O.I.C. logo

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Holding a Criminal Term
Grand Jury 97-1, Sworn on January 31, 1997


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

VS.

 

RONALD HENDERSON BLACKLEY,

  Defendant.


 

Criminal No.97-0166

Violations:

18 U.S.C. 1001 (False Statements)

 

INDICTMENT

THE GRAND JURY CHARGES: Background

   At all times relevant to this Indictment:

   1. The United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") was a department of the United States Government. The duties of the USDA were, among other things, to improve and promote agricultural development and production in the United States. The Secretary of Agriculture was in charge of USDA.

   2. The USDA had various programs, such as the Price Support and Production Adjustment Program, the Conservation Reserve Program and the Rice Storage Loan Program, through which farmers could apply for monetary subsidies.

   3. Commencing in or about 1983, defendant RONALD HENDERSON BLACKLEY ("defendant BLACKLEY") owned and operated a sole proprietorship known as Mississippi Rice Services which brokered rice for farmers in the State of Mississippi delta region.

   4. From in or about 1984 until in or about 1987, defendant BLACKLEY was employed in Washington County, Mississippi, working as a field assistant and later as a program assistant for an agency of the USDA known as the Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service ("ASCS").

   5. Commencing in or about 1987, defendant BLACKLEY also did business as Ron Blackley and Associates. Ron Blackley and Associates was a consulting business in which defendant BLACKLEY, among others things, assisted farmers in obtaining monetary subsidies from USDA.

   6. On or about January 14, 1993, as a result of conflict of interest inquiries by the President-elect's transition team, defendant BLACKLEY provided a written memorandum, dated January 14, 1993, to (1) the transition team, (2) the Secretary of Agriculture-designate and (3) the United States Senate which stated, among other things, "at this time, I have no personal business interests and my only source of income is my congressional salary."

   7. On or about January 21, 1993, defendant BLACKLEY was appointed as the Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Agriculture and was subject to specific provisions of the Ethics in Government Act which, among other things, required the completion and timely filing of a Public Financial Disclosure Report, Form SF 278.

   8. The Public Financial Disclosure Report, Form SF 278, is required to be filed, among other reasons, so

    that those having responsibility for review of reports filed pursuant to the Act or permitted public access to reports [are] given sufficient information by reporting individuals concerning the nature of their outside interests and activities so that an informed judgment can be made with respect to compliance with applicable conflict of interest laws and standards of conduct regulations.

   9. The Public Financial Disclosure Report, Form SF 278, requires, among other things, the reporting of

  1. the actual amount . . . of non-investment income, exceeding $200 from any one source. Such income includes, fees, salaries, commissions [and] compensation for personal services; as to the spouse of the reporting individual, the amount of non-investment income exceeding $1,000 from any one source;
  2. gifts received by the reporting individual, his spouse and dependent children aggregating $100 or more from any one source; and
  3. liabilities owed by the reporting individual, his spouse or dependent children to any creditor which exceeded $10,000; and
  4. any agreements or arrangements concerning a continuation of payments by a former employer other than the United States government.

   10. Defendant BLACKLEY's "Position Description" at USDA described him as the "alter ego" to the Secretary of Agriculture and specified that he "shared with the Secretary the burdens and responsibilities of his office." The Position Description defined BLACKLEY's duties to include "maintaining a continuous scrutiny of the Department's programs and administration." Moreover, defendant BLACKLEY's Position Description specified that "the scope and effect of the work done and the decisions made by the Chief of Staff are as broad as the programs of the Department because he or she is acting for the Secretary."

   11. Charles Fuller, not named as a defendant herein, was a longtime friend and business associate of defendant BLACKLEY. Mr. Fuller, through different farming operations, sought and received monetary subsidies from USDA, totaling approximately $63,000 in 1993.

   12. Charles ("Buddy") Cochran, not named as a defendant herein, was a longtime friend and client of defendant BLACKLEY. Mr. Cochran owned and operated a farming operation known as "Coco Planting Company" ("Coco"), which sought and received monetary subsidies from USDA, totaling approximately $284,000 in 1993.

   13. During the calendar year 1993, Mr. Fuller made and caused to be made the following payments to defendant BLACKLEY and his wife, Sharon Blackley, not named as a defendant herein:

 

PAYMENT DATE PAYEE AMOUNT
1 1/5/93 Ronnie Blackley $ 2,500
2 2/8/93 Ron Blackley $ 1,000
3 2/8/93 Ron Blackley $ 1,000
4 3/12/93 Sharon Blackley $ 450
5 3/31/93 Sharon Blackley $ 400
6 5/6/93 Sharon Blackley $ 200
7 7/14/93 Ron Blackley $ 5, 000
8 8/25/93 Sharon Blackley $10,000
9 8/25/93 Blackley $ 200
10 12/15/93 Ron Blackley $ 275
 
TOTAL: $21,025

   14. On or about May 22, 1993, Mr. Cochran gave defendant BLACKLEY and/or Sharon Blackley a check for $1,000, payable to Ron Blackley, Jr., which was later deposited in the joint checking account of defendant BLACKLEY and Sharon Blackley.

   15. Defendant BLACKLEY served as Chief of Staff for the Secretary of Agriculture until in or about February 1994 at which time he became a Special Assistant in the USDA's Farmers Home Administration.

COUNT ONE

FALSE STATEMENTS

   16. Paragraphs 1 through 15 are realleged and incorporated herein by reference.

   17. In the calendar year 1993, defendant BLACKLEY and Mrs. Blackley received payments totaling approximately $22,025 as previously alleged.

   18. On or about June 28, 1994, in the District of Columbia, defendant BLACKLEY, knowingly and willfully, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the USDA, a department of the United States, falsified, concealed and covered up by a trick, scheme, and device, material facts, made false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations, and made and used a false writing and document knowing the same to contain false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and entries, in that defendant BLACKLEY, as required by law, prepared, signed and submitted to the USDA a Public Financial Disclosure Report, Form SF 278 (covering the calendar year 1993) on which he certified that the statements made were "true, complete and correct" to the best of his knowledge and belief. In truth and fact, as defendant BLACKLEY well knew, said Public Financial Disclosure Report failed to disclose the receipt of approximately $22,025 as follows:

  1. on Schedule A ("Assets and Income") the sources of income which generated over $200 in income during the reporting period;
  2. on Schedule B, Part II ("Gifts, Reimbursement and Travel Expenses") gifts from one source totaling $100 or more in value;
  3. on Schedule C, Part I ("Liabilities") liabilities over $10,000 owed to any one creditor at any time during the reporting period; and
  4. on Schedule C, Part II, ("Agreements or Arrangements") an agreement and arrangement for continuation of payments of money.

   19. It was material pursuant to the Ethics in Government Act that defendant BLACKLEY report all sources of income, gifts, liabilities and agreements or arrangements so that those having responsibility for the review of reports filed pursuant to the Act could make an informed judgment about BLACKLEY's compliance with applicable conflict of interest laws and standards of conduct regulations.

(In violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 1001)

COUNT TWO

FALSE STATEMENTS

   20. Paragraphs 1 through 15 are realleged and incorporated herein by reference.

   21. In or about November 1994, the USDA Office of Inspector General ("USDA OIG") was conducting an investigation of defendant BLACKLEY into conflict of interest allegations.

   22. It was material to the USDA OIG investigation to determine if defendant BLACKLEY while employed at USDA was

  1. continuing to do business with certain entities;
  2. continuing to represent certain farmers; and
  3. continuing to receive payments from sources other than his government salary with USDA.

   23. On or about November 28, 1994, in the District of Columbia, defendant BLACKLEY, knowingly and willfully, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the USDA, a department of the United States, falsified, concealed and covered up by a trick, scheme, and device material facts, made false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations and made and used a false writing and document knowing the same to contain false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and entries, in that defendant BLACKLEY signed a sworn declaration which stated:

In truth and fact, as defendant BLACKLEY well knew, he had received the payments alleged in paragraphs 13 and 14 above.

(In violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001)

COUNT THREE

FALSE STATEMENTS

   24. Paragraphs 1 through 15 are realleged and incorporated herein by reference.

   25. On or about June 12, 1995, defendant BLACKLEY was appointed as the Special Assistant in the Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs, in the United States Agency for International Development ("U.S. AID"). In this position, defendant BLACKLEY was required to obtain and hold a Top Secret security clearance.

   26. In or about August 1996, the U.S. AID Office of Inspector General ("U.S. AID OIG") was conducting an investigation to determine if defendant BLACKLEY had been or was involved in unreported conflicts of interest and whether defendant BLACKLEY should retain his Top Secret security clearance. It was material to the U.S. AID OIG investigation to determine if defendant BLACKLEY was receiving or had received remuneration from any source other than the United States Government since he had entered government service on or about January 21, 1993.

   27. On or about August 15, 1996, in the District of Columbia, defendant BLACKLEY, knowingly and willfully, in a matter within the jurisdiction of the United States Agency for International Development, an agency of the United States, falsified, concealed and covered up by a trick, scheme, and device material facts, made false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations and made and used a false writing and document knowing the same to contain false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and entries, in that defendant BLACKLEY signed a sworn declaration which stated, "After I ended my consulting business and entered U.S. Government service, I did not receive any remuneration of any kind from Mitchell or anyone else." In truth and fact, as defendant BLACKLEY well knew, he had received the payments alleged in paragraphs 13 and 14 above.

(In violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001)

 

A TRUE BILL

 

 



Foreperson

 



DONALD C. SMALTZ
INDEPENDENT COUNSEL

William F. Fahey
Counsellor

Washington, D.C.
April 22, 1997

 

Back to top