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.