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Prosecutor Accused Of Retaliating For Speech
Jul 06, 2012
A businessman was accused of "structuring" cash deposits of his income from farmers market sales, and now the federal prosecutor who took his money is accused of retaliating against the businessman for protesting to the press:
In an e-mail to [Baltimore City Paper], Watt [the businessman's lawyer] paraphrases what he recalls [prosecutor] Cassella saying: “Well, Dave, now I have a problem. Your client spoke to the press and now I have to file charges. Otherwise it will appear that I was influenced by your client speaking to the press. Also, I don’t want the next person who I file against to think that he/she can gain leverage by talking to the press.”
Prior to the article, Watt says working to resolve the case with Cassella had been a “relatively amiable process.” Afterward, Watt continues, the prosecutor changed his tune. Rather than engaging in what Watt says Cassella had previously described to him—a back-and-forth of offers and counteroffers over the amount of seized money the government would keep—Cassella instead said Watt “misunderstood” how the process would go, and gave a hard-and-fast, nonnegotiable figure of $29,500, saying, in essence, to take it or leave it.
“I have a hard time explaining to my client why he is being treated differently,” Watt wrote, “especially where your initial concern was that the government agents not be liable for any claims for the seizure,” an issue Watt contended was addressed in another section of the agreement.
Cassella, in what Watt and Kamenar say was the last communication from Cassella in the matter, responded with one sentence: “Mr. Taylor did not give an interview to the press.”
Here's the story from the City Paper.
Update: I owe a hat-tip, as I do so often, to Walter Olson's Overlawyered.