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Legal News: Law Blog - WSJ.com
The Case Against Eliot: The Mann Act, Structuring. . . . or Immunity?
By Dan Slater
A handful of issues today to talk about in L’Affaire Spitzer, but first, let’s get you caught up on a number of threads from around the Web-o-sphere on the potential criminal issues facing the governor.
Will Spitzer Be Charged? Eliot Spitzer has reportedly retained lawyers at Paul, Weiss to help guide him through his current morass. But it’s still unclear whether federal prosecutors will go after him at all. If they do, what will they charge him with? One theoretical possibility, as we alluded to yesterday: a violation under The Mann Act, which, broadly speaking, deals with prostitution and trafficking. Commentators aren’t so sure this is where the feds are headed. Michael Bachner, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office, told the WSJ: “The Mann Act really was designed more towards those who get someone to travel against their will.”
A Crime Called Structuring: According to Spitzer coverage in today’s NYT, one law enforcement official said that discussions soon to be held between Spitzerís lawyers and federal prosecutors will likely focus on how it was paid for: Whether the payments from Spitzer to the prostitution service were made in a way to conceal their purpose and source. That could amount to a crime called structuring, reports the NYT, for which the maximum penalty is five years in prison, and a fine.(Click here for another report on the “structuring” aspect from ABC News, and here for the word from Talking Points Memo.)
The Spitzer as Witness Angle Over at the White Collar Crime Prof blog, the authors wonder: “Will Spitzer need to be a witness in the case against the four individuals charged with conspiracy, prostitution, and money laundering? Will he be given immunity?” In the federal system, the authors write, this would be “use” immunity as opposed to “transactional immunity,” which means that anything Spitzer said, or anything derived from what he said, could not be used against him. (Click here for an American Lawyer piece that fleshes out Spitzer’s legal landscape, and here for another from the NY Sun.)
Beloved Law Blog readers, let’s keep the robust discussion going. Putting aside, for the moment, whether Spitzer is likely to resign today, do you think he’ll be charged by the feds?
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