This is a narrative summary of the 30 criminal counts in the indictment on which the jury, on December 2, 1998, acquitted the defendant in United States v. Alphonso Michael Espy. The following breaks down those counts by the criminal charges alleged in the redacted indictment:
Below is an overview of these counts. A detailed discussion of the Government=s argument in support of the evidence and allegations is available by reading the Government=s Opposition to the Defendant=s Motion for Acquittal filed November 23, 1998, which the Government filed at the conclusion of its case. You also may find the Government=s Opposition at Indictments index under the original Espy indictment.
The original indictment contained 39 counts. In pretrial motions to dismiss, the trial court dismissed four counts -- one count of false statements to President Clinton=s Chief of Staff and White House Counsel and three counts of accepting illegal gratuities under Meat Inspection Act. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reinstated the three Meat Inspection Act counts. At the conclusion of the Government=s case, the trial court dismissed eight counts leaving the 30 counts for the jury to decide.
These 30 counts of the Indictment alleged three categories of criminal misconduct by the former Secretary of Agriculture:
The balance of the discussion gives you an idea of what the Government was required to prove Abeyond a reasonable doubt.@ The elements of the offenses derive directly from the instructions that the trial court gave to the jury. You may view many of the instructions given by the trial court to the jury by clicking here or returning to the Indictments index and clicking on the jury instructions under the Espy redacted indictment.
Counts 1 through 8 charged Espy with accepting 18 different things of value from corporations and individuals that he regulated and concealing those gifts, in violation of the mail and wire fraud statutes: 18 U.S.C. '' 1341, 1343, and 1346. The Court required the Government to prove that Espy:
To prove a Adeprivation of honest services@ the Court required the government to show that Espy either:
Counts one through four, the wire fraud violations, were (1) May 4, 1993 telephone communications between the USDA in Washington and Tyson Foods in Springdale, Arkansas, to accept Tyson Foods= invitation to a weekend birthday party hosted by Tyson Foods; (2) a May 12, 1993 fax between Tyson Foods in Springdale, Arkansas and the USDA in Washington to provide Espy=s travel and lodging arrangements for the weekend birthday party hosted by Tyson Foods; (3) June 17, 1993 telephone communications between the USDA in Washington and Quaker Oats headquarters in Chicago, Illinois to solicit two 1993 NBA Championship tickets from Quaker Oats for Espy; and (4) a February 4, 1994 fax from the President of Oglethorpe Power, in Tucker, Georgia to Espy at the USDA in Washington requesting that Espy elevate to other government officials Oglethorpe Power=s proposal to pre-pay USDA-guaranteed bonds after the administering federal bank within the Department of the Treasury previously rejected Oglethorpe=s prepayment proposal.
Counts 5 through 8, the mail fraud violations, were (1) (Count 5) an April 6, 1993 purchase order for $6,204 for the period of February 1993 through September 1993 sent from the USDA in Washington to Chrysler Credit in Ridgeland, Mississippi for the lease of a 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee; (2) (Count 6) a March 18, 1994 handwritten note from Espy in Washington to Don Tyson in Springdale, Arkansas with a $68 personal check as payment for the January 16, 1994 Dallas Cowboys - Green Bay Packers NFL Playoff game; (3) (Count 7) a June 2, 1994 letter from the Speaking/Travel Coordinator at USDA in Washington to the Arkansas Poultry Federation in Little Rock, Arkansas containing Espy=s personal check in the approximate amount of $69 for lodging expenses at the Tyson Management Development Center on May 15, 1993; and (4) (Count 8) an August 25, 1994 letter from Espy to Quaker Oats in Chicago, Illinois stating that tickets to the Chicago Bulls - Phoenix Suns NBA Playoff game in Chicago that the Chairman of Quaker Oats provided to Espy and Richard Douglas had not been repaid due to an oversight, and contained Espy=s personal check for $90.
Counts 9 through 18 charged Espy, a public official, with accepting gratuities in violation of 18 U.S.C. ' 201(c)(1)(B). To prove those offenses, the Court required the Government to prove that Espy:
To prove that Espy accepted or received the things of value Afor or because of official acts@ the government had to prove that Espy knew that the giver of the gratuity intended either:
The element of Afor or because of official acts@ did not require the jury to find that the thing of value was accepted as a quid pro quo, or in return for the performance of a specific official act. Similarly, the Government did not have to show that Espy altered any decision or action because of the receipt of a gratuity. It was not a defense to the crime of receiving or accepting a gratuity as charged in Counts Nine through Eighteen of the Indictment that the official act performed or to be performed was actually lawful, desirable, or even beneficial to the public.
Additionally, the Government was not required to show that the gratuity and the official act motivated one another. Rather, it was enough for the Government to show that Espy knew that the giver hoped that his gratuity would affect a future official act taken by Espy. It was not enough, however, for the Government to show that Espy believed that the giver of any gratuity hoped merely to Aget cozy@ or Ainduce warm feelings@ towards Espy by giving the thing of value.
The Court further instructed the jury that it would have been improper to find Espy guilty of the gratuities offenses if it found that he believed that he received any of the gratuities solely because of his personal relationship or friendship with the donor, or if it found that Espy believed that the donor gave, and he received, any of the gratuities alleged in the Indictment merely because of his position as Secretary of Agriculture.
The illegal gratuities charged in Counts 9 through 18 were the following: four illegal gratuities from Sun-Diamond Growers of California and Richard Douglas -- (Count 9) luggage given on March 14, 1993 valued at $2,427, (Count 10) cash in the amount of #3,200 given on May 13, 1993 to Patricia Dempsey, Espy=s girlfriend, (Count 11) U.S. Open tennis tickets and limousines given on September 11 and 12, 1993 valued at $4,446, and (Count 12) tickets to a Washington Bullets-New York Knicks NBA Game given on November 10, 1993 valued at $222; three illegal gratuities from Tyson Foods and its Washington lobbyist Jack Williams -- (Count 13) four seats at a Presidential Inaugural Dinner given on January 18, 1993 valued at $6,000, (Count 14) the Tyson birthday party celebration in Russellville, Arkansas, including airfare, meals, lodging and entertainment, given May 14 through 16, 1993 valued at $2,556, and (Count 15) a weekend trip to Dallas, Texas for Espy and Dempsey, including Dempsey=s airfare, and limousines and football game tickets to the Dallas Cowboys - Green Bay Packers NFL Playoff Football Game for Espy and Dempsey given January 15 and 16, 1994 valued at $2,087; (Count 16) one Super Bowl ticket given to Espy by Oglethorpe Power, EOP Group, and Smith Barney on January 30, 1994 valued at $2,200 (the price paid to a ticket scalper for the ticket); (Count 17) employment that commenced on May 1, 1993 for Dempsey from the EOP Group; and (Count 18) tickets to the Chicago Bulls-Phoenix Suns NBA Championship Game on June 18, 1993 from Quaker Oats and its Chairman valued at $90.
Counts 19 through 21 charged Espy with violating the gratuities provision of the Meat Inspection Act, 21 U.S.C. ' 622. To prove that offense, the government was required to prove that Espy:
To prove that Espy accepted or received the things of value Ain connection with or arising out of the performance of his official duties@ the government had to prove that Espy knew that:
The violations of the Meat Inspection Act were (Count 19) the Russellville, Arkansas, weekend in May 1993, which included airfare, meals, lodging and entertainment, from Tyson Foods; (Count 20) the airfare, and limousines and football game tickets to the Dallas Cowboys - Green Bay Packers NFL Playoff Football Game from Tyson Foods in January 1994; and (Count 21) the Chicago Bulls-Phoenix Suns NBA Championship Game tickets from Quaker Oats and its Chairman in June 1993.
Counts 22 through 25 charged Espy with violating the Travel Act, 18 U.S.C. ' 1952, by traveling in interstate commerce with the intent to facilitate the promotion of unlawful activities. To prove the Travel Act violations, the Government had to prove that Espy:
The Government alleged that Espy traveled interstate on four occasions to violate the federal illegal gratuities statute -- (Count 22) on May 15, 1993
from Washington to Russellville to attend the Tyson party; (Count 23) on June 18, 1993; (Count 24) on September 11, 1993 from Washington to New York to attend the U.S. Open tennis tournament; and (Count 25) on January 15, 1994 from Washington to Dallas to attend the Cowboys-Packers NFL playoff game.
Counts 26 and 28 through 30 charged Espy with making false statements and submitting false documents to the United States in violation of 18 U.S.C. ' 1001. These charges stemmed from his false statements to agents of the Department of Agriculture=s Office of Inspector General and to special agents of the FBI, as well as his submission of false Public Financial Disclosure Reports on forms SF-278. To prove those offenses, the government had to prove that Espy:
Whether a the fact concealed or false document made was material depends on whether it could have influenced the government=s decisions or activities. There was no requirement that the Government prove that the receiving department or agency was in fact misled. The fact concealed or the document made or used must simply have had the capacity to impair or pervert the functioning of the government department.
Count 27 charged Espy with tampering with a witness, specifically his assistant Eloise Thomas, in violation of 18 U.S.C. '' 1512(b)(2)(A) and (B) and 1512(b)(3). To prove that offense, the Government had to prove that Espy:
The charge of witness tampering was in connection with Espy=s instruction to Thomas to remove personal information from his official itinerary for his travel to Dallas, Texas in January 1994 to attend the Dallas Cowboys - Green Bay Packers NFL playoff game as a guest in the Tyson Foods skybox at Texas Stadium.
The documents in this index have been electronically