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May 4, 1998


Donald C. Smaltz, Independent Counsel, In re Espy, today announced:

   (1) The filing of a brief seeking full-court review of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision in the case of United States v. Sun-Diamond Growers of California; (2) the opening of an Independent Counsel Internet website to provide public access to publicly available information about this investigation; and (3) the appointment of Deputy Independent Counsel Theodore S. Greenberg as Spokesman for the office.

1. Petition for Rehearing in Sun-Diamond

   The Government today filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit a petition for rehearing in Sun-Diamond. On March 20, 1998, a three-judge panel reversed a District of Columbia trial court jury's conviction and sentence of the California agricultural cooperative for giving illegal gratuities worth approximately $6,000 to former Secretary of Agriculture Espy. The panel found that the trial court judge incorrectly instructed the jury about what constituted an "illegal gratuity" under federal criminal law. The panel affirmed the conviction of Sun-Diamond for wire fraud and illegal campaign contributions under the Federal Election Campaign Act.

   The Government petitioned for rehearing because the Court created a more lenient rule for acceptance of illegal gratuities in Washington, DC, than exists in the rest of the country. In the "Petition for Rehearing and Suggestion for Rehearing En Banc," the Government wrote that:

   Contrary to all previous law on the subject, which holds that the Government need only show the donor's intent to curry the official's favor and goodwill generally, the Decision now requires that a gratuity in the District [of Columbia] be linked to a "specific" past act or a "concrete" future act of the public official, and thereby blurring the distinction between gratuities and bribes. . . .

   The Decision in this case is contrary to controlling Supreme Court precedent and creates a significant (and acknowledged) circuit split on the interpretation of an important federal criminal statute. Moreover, the unfortunate result of the Decision is that the law in the District of Columbia Circuit, the seat of the federal government, is significantly more tolerant of gratuities to federal officials than in any other part of the country. It is astonishing that a gratuity that would be illegal if given to a minor federal official in a local office somewhere else in the country nonetheless would be legal if conferred upon a Cabinet Secretary in Washington. The Decision stands as a virtual invitation to regulated entities to flood government offices in the District with gratuities earmarked for general goodwill and "generalized sympathy." The confused state of the law that the Decision engenders undermines enforcement and complicates the lives of those who would try to stay within its strictures.

   A copy of the Government's brief will be available tonight in the "briefs and opinions" section of the website at "".

2. website address: ""

   This office has created the first Independent Counsel website located at "" in order to facilitate public access to public documents and information concerning this office's investigation and prosecutions. Mr. Smaltz stated:

   The citizens of the United States are entitled not only to know about the public aspects of the Independent Counsel's work but also have convenient access to that public information. This website will permit prompt access to important documents relating to this investigation and prosecutions, including the Attorney General's reasons for asking the Court to appoint an Independent Counsel, her suggestions as to the jurisdiction of the investigation and this Office's reports to Congress. Through the website, I hope the public will develop an informed understanding of the role of the Independent Counsel in investigating allegations of wrongdoing by high-ranking government officials.

   The information on the website describes the responsibilities of the Espy Independent Counsel and contains the text of certain public documents filed with various federal courts of the United States, as well as public statements by the Independent Counsel, since his appointment on September 9, 1994. These include:

(1) Status and summary report on every case prosecuted by this Office, updated to reflect new dates and changes as they occur;
(2) Copies of all grand jury indictments, informations and civil complaints;
(3) All press releases;
(4) The text of Attorney General Janet Reno's application for the appointment of an Independent Counsel to investigate the solicitation and receipt of illegal gratuities, and related offenses, by former Secretary of Agriculture Alphonso Michael Espy to the Special Division of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for the Appointment of Independent Counsels;
(5) The text of the Special Division's Order issued on September 9, 1994 appointing Donald C. Smaltz as Independent Counsel and defining his core investigative and prosecutorial jurisdiction, as well as referred and related matters;
(6) Selected published opinions of the United States Courts and briefs of the United States concerning this investigation and related prosecutions;
(7) Annual reports filed with the United States Congress as required by the Independent Counsel Reauthorization Act of 1994;
(8) The text of Congressional testimony by Independent Counsel Smaltz before the United States Congress;
(9) The text of speeches and articles by Mr. Smaltz concerning the Independent Counsel statute, the history of Independent Counsels and special prosecutors in the United States, and his personal insights into the role of the Independent Counsel; and
(10) List of full-time attorneys currently employed by the Office of Independent Counsel In re Espy.

Also, future press releases, select Government court briefs, select court opinions, and any additional indictments, upon approval for public disclosure, will appear on the website. All documents on the website are already public and do not contain any information subject to grand jury secrecy.

3. Appointment of Ted Greenberg, Media Spokesman

   In addition to his duties as Deputy Independent Counsel, Ted Greenberg has assumed the duties of Media Spokesman for this office. Mr. Greenberg is a 24-year career federal prosecutor on detail to this office from the Department of Justice, where he most recently served as Chief of the Money Laundering Section. Members of the press should address all inquiries to Mr. Greenberg at (703) 706-0010.

4. Press Releases by E-Mail

   In order to disseminate more quickly future press releases, this Office will issue press releases by e-mail. Please contact Barbara Schultz at (703) 706-0010 to ensure that we have your accurate e-mail address. You also may advise her if you prefer to receive a hard copy by fax instead of by e-mail.

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