Detectives use inductive and deductive reasoning to draw conclusions. Deductive reasoning is where you can use general truths to draw specific conclusions. In the case of Scott Maddox there are some deductions we can make.
The Department of Justice Public Integrity Section is in charge of indicting public official criminal behavior. They have a good record of winning cases because they rarely bring a case they think they will lose.
Over the past twenty years the Department of Justice brought charges against 5,394 elected and appointed local officials. They won convictions in 4,761 cases. That is an 88.2% conviction rate.
The last year that statistics are available, 2017, the Department of Justice made 223 charges against local officials. They won 208 convictions for a 93.3% conviction rate.
The Internal Revenue Service, when it pursues public corruption investigations, has a 93.4% conviction rate against local officials for the last year records are available.
If you are a private citizen caught up in a local official public corruption case the conviction rate for the last twenty years is 90.3%. So, if you were providing money or services as a private citizen or corporation to an elected official for favors there is a nine in ten chance you will be convicted if an indictment is filed.
Despite this impressive record there may be some sunshine for Scott Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith. In 2016 the United States Supreme Court overturned the public corruption conviction of Virginia Governor Bob McConnell. The Supreme Court raised the standard that prosecutors have to meet in order to obtain a conviction.
The Supreme Court drew a fine line between “official acts” and “political courtesy”.
Chief Justice Roberts wrote the decision that overturned Governor McConnell’s conviction. Justice Roberts wrote a public official, in order to be convicted, “must involve a formal exercise of governmental power.” An official act must occur.
Political courtesy is allowed. Justice Roberts wrote “Conscientious public officials arrange meetings for constituents, contact other officials on their behalf, and include them in events all the time. Representative government assumes that public officials will hear from their constituents and act appropriately on their concerns.” This allows a lot of room for maneuvering by a public official without falling afoul of anti-public corruption laws.
If an elected official does not vote on the matter in question than no “official act” occurred.
Federal prosecutors dropped charges against New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez after a mistrial. Senator Menendez allegedly received gifts and campaign contributions from a friend. In exchange Senator Menendez provided “political courtesy”.
Some convictions were overturned against a couple of prominent New York state public officials after the Supreme Court ruling. Both underwent new trials. Both were re-convicted and the convictions stood.
The reason why the convictions were overturned is the jury instructions did not reflect the higher standard established by the Supreme Court. At the re-trial the instructions were changed to reflect the new standard and the politicians were convicted again.
I have read the indictments against Mr. Maddox. I am not a lawyer. It is possible, based on my understanding of the Supreme Court ruling and the indictments, that Mr. Maddox will prevail on the multiple allegations of extortion. His defense may argue he was only doing favors for friends and/or corporations as a matter of “political courtesy”.
Where the greater danger of convictions occurs are the two allegations of bank fraud, three allegations of false statements to a financial institution, two allegations of false statements, and, seven allegations of either making a false statement on a tax return or conspiracy to defraud the United States IRS.
One of the problems defendants have with Federal prosecutions is the prosecutors have an almost unlimited amount of Federal funds and resources to make their case.
Mr. Maddox will have to fund his own defense. While not being an expert on defense attorney legal fees I can imagine that more than $250,000 to $300,000 will have to be spent by Mr. Maddox regardless of whether he prevails or not.
That is a lot of money to come out of the family accounts. Yes, I am aware Mr. Maddox took funds from his State Senate campaign account to pay for the defense. I imagine those funds and another $200,000 in personal funds will be spent before this case concludes.
Remember, if Mr. Maddox is convicted there is also the probability that the Department of Justice will move to seize assets.
Ms. Paige Carter-Smith does not have a State Senate campaign. I suspect she is not worth as much as Mr. Maddox. The last time Mr. Maddox had to file a detailed asset and income report was in 2010 when he ran for Agricultural Commissioner.
At that time Mr. Maddox had assets of $1,582,156 with a declared annual income of $222,000 (mostly from Governance, Inc.).
The assets of Ms. Paige Carter-Smith are not available through public records. The question here is can Mr. Carter-Smith afford to spend $200,000 for a defense.
If the answer is no it raises the possibility of striking a plea bargain where she agrees to testify against Mr. Maddox.
If you follow Mr. Robert Mueller’s investigation into Mr. Paul Manafort then you are aware that Mr. Manafort’s trusted deputy, Mr. Rick Gates, turned on Mr. Manafort and testified against him.
What Mr. Gates did is likely on Mr. Maddox’s mind.
Jon M. Ausman is the longest serving member of the Democratic National Committee in Florida’s history (December 1992 to January 2017). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 850-321-7799.
Is there no limit to your ego? Do you really believe you are qualified to undertake a legal analysis of the government’s case? Do us all a favor and stick to what you are qualified in, Democrat Party activities and liberal analysis of all things conservative.
So simple, and Dobson may be the best criminal defense lawyer in Tallahassee. In the end, the DOJ has an extreme upper hand in these prosecutions. Regardless of the 44 counts, the DOJ has Honest Services Fraud which is a devastating charge because of the low threshold for proving it. Maddox will soon be a camper at the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Good analysis Mr. Ausman.
I offer a more direct and time and time again locally proven prediction of what will happen to Mr. Maddox. Everyone knows what I am about to say is totally true and I understand why most locals will publicly deny the truth.
Here you go:
If Maddox has Esquire Dobson representing him he will walk free and clear – 100% – no question about it. There is absolutely nothing the FBI can do to change this fact.
If Maddox has Esquire Judkins or Esquire Jansen there is a 75% chance he will walk free and clear.
Any other Esquire and Scotty’s going to jail.
What have we learned here?
If you are in deep smelly brown hire Esquire Dobson.
Hope you have some wry interesting points, and I would love to meet you. Thank God this new City Commissioners are opening the doors of City Hall to all citizens… Not only the well connected, rich, the poor, and people of Color!
Hope – Nice job to come out swinging insinuating corruption is a Democrat Party-endorsed virtue. While Mr. Maddox is the local poster boy, I’m not sure he is much of anything compared to the GUILTY Paul Manafort… I say this as a registered Independent.
You must have your head in the sand… I guess you missed the not one but three Democrats elected who did not live in their District.
I guess you missed Willie Meggs showing favoritism to Sheriff Harvey’s drunk driving and over prosecuting others.
I guess you missed Sheriff Campbell’s corruption and incompetence that culminated in a death of one of his deputies.
I guess you missed the Democrats who took over the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce to promote themselves and their clients rather than businesses.
I guess you missed Andrew Gillum’s antics, Dustin Daniels antics, Sheriff McNeil doing a slanted investigation of Gillum and Daniels, and the other Non-Stop corruption self-promoting and nonsense.
Please enlighten the taxpayers of Leon County why the school board of Leon County fails to act on the issue where Superintendent Rocky Hanna SELF ADMITTED that he had NO knowledge of any wrongdoing in Leon Schools, Rocky ADMITTED he gathered the documents that HE included in the notebook, Rocky ADMITTED that he alone authored the false and misleading summaries in each section in the notebook that HE circulated the notebook to state and federal authorities causing taxpayers over $600,000 in investigative costs that Rocky understood from his own admission was bogus. If that is not enough, he broke school board policy using his work email to settle his 10 years of REFUSAL to pay child support until sued.
I believe Pons was getting a little too Pied Piperish with the taxpayers money especially the time Pons gave Gary Yordon an $80,000 a year job as a media specialist.
Of course, citizens found out and Yordon resigned within a few weeks, (also, Gabordi was mixed up in this fiasco).
I believe Pons giving contracts to his contributors started out with good intentions, but just got carried away. I believe citizens wanted a superintendent that would focus on education and not servicing contributors.
I believe Hanna resonated with citizens and his students and did a good job as Principal at Leon High.
Perhaps, you should run for School Board. Maybe you should run for superintendent or work on changing the process to appoint a superintendent.
I believe the things you keep bringing to our attention are political and don’t fall within the criminal realm.. But, not saying if you believe in something to continue marching on.
Gabordi had to suspend himself recently:
Abuse cannot be tolerated? That’s hypocrisy, if I’ve ever heard it.
And if he’s such a great journalist, how could he sit on this board for nine months and not have heard about this abusive event from four years ago? While the abusive employee, who fathered a child with one of the disabled residents, continued to work there!
Finally, what about conflict of interest issues? This is precisely why editors should decline service on boards which could end up involved in negative media stories. It undernines the credibility of the media outlet.
Count on your fingers the bullet points Gabordi violated. Not to forget Hatfield’s 10-story pay-for-play scheme with Dustin Daniels, which is unarguably a clear violation addressed in the policy above.
All told, it explains exactly why they are now printing less than 16,000 propaganda sheets a day.
“I guess you missed Andrew Gillum’s antics, Dustin Daniels antics, Sheriff McNeil doing a slanted investigation of Gillum and Daniels, and the other Non-Stop corruption self-promoting and nonsense.”
As the one that filed the criminal complaint against the former Mayor, I disagree with your conclusions regarding the LCSO in this incident. I met with a competent investigator, the complaint was fully investigated, and then presented to the grand jury as I had requested. It was there that the ball was dropped IMO. As an example, despite clear evidence that Mr. Gillum had used personal funds to buy the software before holding office (this is knowledge that it was not OK to use tax dollars for it), the grand jury decided to give him a pass. They were also confused by the lack of accountability inherent in the City of Tallahassee’s purchasing process. I saw that firsthand when I had filed a public records request for red light camera data in 2014. My request was cut from several items to just a couple of items w/o explanation or the name of the person that did it.
I have to disagree with you because Sheriff McNeil was too close to the people being investigated and had conflicts galore.
So it was tainted from the get go. I stand by my statement that Gillum and Daniels misused City funds and should have been held accountable.
Fortunately voters got it where the grand jury fell short.
Having worked in law enforcement, specifically investigative work, it is very frustrating to present a case and have the prosecutor (State Attorney’s Office/SAO, or in this case the grand jury) refuse to take it. My experience was in the 20th Judicial Circuit, but the principle remains the same regardless of location. As a homicide investigator, at one point the SAO told me there was no case law to support a felony murder charge, so I found case law, and from that point on included it in my reports. What I got then was not to put case law in reports since it gave defense attorneys an advantage. 🙂
Another time I worked a fraud case involving a pregnant suspect in another county. I obtained a taped confession post-Miranda warning from her and they refused to prosecute. I obtained an arrest warrant to close the case and they actually tried to complain about me doing that. Before I retired, I joked about having to make a case against the SAO and the suspect. Things got so bad we had to get a stamped receipt for every piece of paper we sent to them, otherwise they would claim to never have received it. 🙁
In this case, as I noted, the law was/is very clear. It’s unfortunate ordinary people can understand the law was violated and where the buck stops, but those few on a GJ could not (also agree with your voter comment below). Having sat on one myself, I know they are composed of all levels of legal & general knowledge. It was frustrating to have to explain in one case how since someone was shot, that even though no gun was recovered, the person they had indicted for the shooting (a convicted felon) also violated the law re: possession of a gun by a felon. Lawyers will tell you a jury is unpredictable, and a grand jury is no different.
I do agree with you that it may have been better to have another agency investigate due to the perception of improper influence, but ultimately for an elected official, the GJ makes the decision regardless of who investigates.
The usual Leon County Democratic Party operative nonsense.
I never saw you step-up and question Maddox’s dealings especially not living in his district.
You said nothing and did nothing regarding his many other indiscretions abuse and felonious actions.
Had some people followed the rules and demanded accountability perhaps you would have protected him from himself. But, only looking the other way enabling him and protecting him hurt your party, our County , his family and most of all Maddox himself.
I was expecting a little more from you.
BREAKING: Maddox files motion to remove more than half of the 44 indictment counts against him:
Thank you News Maven for the post. I wrote this article last week. I think Mr. Dobson on behalf Mr. Maddox may prevail on the extortion allegations. Note that this motion does not address the charges listed in my paragraph above that begins “Where the greater…”.
Apparently you failed to do a simple google search using both of our names. I have in the past critiqued three Florida Democratic Party Chairs, an Executive Director of the same, and, a pair of Mayors.
I been public on my critiques. Frankly, to return the favor back to you, I never say you at my side when I did.
Your comment is unjustified and betrays an lack of awareness.
Jon M. Ausman
Nice try, Jon, but I don’t see it and you didn’t critique them sufficiently.
This column has Maddox written all over it … you can’t even write a column without being the mouthpiece for Maddox.
Mr. Dobson has his work cut out for him and luckily for him Maddox had to use campaign funds to pay for his services..
I don’t think Maddox is going to wiggle out of this one even with Mr Dobson.