The @JusticeDept Readies Its Case: 10 Questions About United States v #ALpolitics @GovernorBentley, @rebmason, et al
Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, April 19, 2016
USA v. Robert J. Bentley, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, and Other Co-Conspirators
By Donald V. Watkins
©Copyrighted and Published (via Facebook) on April 19, 2016
Used with permission
Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley, 73, and political consultant Rebekah Caldwell Mason, 40, are expected to be charged by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) for using Bentley’s position as governor to execute a wide ranging racketeering conspiracy involving wire and mail fraud, tax fraud, bribery, money laundering, the unauthorized use of the federal National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the Law Enforcement Tactical System (LETS) databases, and related criminal charges.
As we announced exclusively on April 9, 2016, federal prosecutors in Washington have decided to expedite the initiation of public corruption charges against Robert Bentley and Rebekah Mason. This article takes you deep inside the criminal case against the governor and his married lover.
Mason, a mother of three young children, is trying to stay out of jail by cooperating with the federal probe. She does not have the financial resources to mount a spirited or sustained defense to the expected criminal charges.
Bentley, whose criminal defense attorneys are paid from campaign funds and personal savings, is helping Rebekah Mason fund her criminal defense by keeping Jonathan Mason, her husband, on the state payroll as the director of Serve Alabama at an annual salary of $94,000. This financial assistance, however, is woefully inadequate considering the tidal wave of legal trouble Rebekah Mason faces.
Robert Bentley, Rebekah Mason and other co-conspirators are staring down the barrel of a criminal indictment that is expected to exceed ninety felony charges once the case has been presented to a federal grand jury. Bentley will be named as the “ringleader” of the racketeering conspiracy.
The commonly asked questions about the governor’s criminal conduct and my legal commentary/answers regarding these questions appear below:
(1) What criminal charges will Bentley and Mason most likely face?
The two lovers acted in concert with each other and others to engage in a racketeering conspiracy that involved wire and mail fraud, tax fraud, bribery, money laundering, and the unauthorized use of the federal NCIC and LETS databases. They also face the criminal forfeiture of their ill-gotten financial gains from the racketeering scheme. Bentley and Mason knowingly defrauded state and federal taxpayers, campaign donors, and “dark money” contributors under the false pretense that their money would be used for legitimate government expenses, or for proper campaign-related expenses, or for authorized non-profit expenditures when, in reality, the money was used to finance and facilitate a personal romantic relationship between Bentley and Mason and for other impermissible expenses. Mason traded sex for absolute control and dominion over Bentley’s executive powers as governor. This exchange constitutes bribery. The couple also reportedly shared in consulting fees paid to Rebekah Mason by third parties who sought and were afforded direct access to Bentley. Bentley’s portion of the cash kickbacks was kept in a secret bank safe deposit box. This cash was not declared on Bentley’s 2015 income tax returns.
(2) Which charges will most likely lead to a conviction?
The racketeering, money laundering, bribery, and fraud charges are the felony crimes that are most likely result in a conviction. The racketeering charges are predicated upon the establishment of the ongoing wire and mail fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, and bribery between Bentley and Mason.
(3) If convicted, how long would Bentley and Mason serve in prison?
Bentley has been designated as the “ringleader” of the racketeering conspiracy. If convicted, Bentley should face a minimum of 28 years in federal prison. This is the sentence that was handed down in the federal racketeering conspiracy case against former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, whose extramarital affair with his chief of staff led to the exposure of a racketeering crime spree that is strikingly similar to the one executed by the Bentley-Mason team.
(4) Does Bentley know that he is the “subject’ or “target” of an ongoing federal criminal investigation?
Yes. The DOJ typically notifies public officials when they are the “subject” or “target” of an ongoing public corruption probe. The public official under investigation is then afforded an opportunity to convince the DOJ that the initiation of criminal charges is not warranted.
(5) Will Bentley attempt to use his resignation as a bargaining chip for a reduction in his sentence?
It is probably too late for this strategy. Had Bentley resigned gracefully and quickly after his sex tapes were released last month, his resignation might have prompted federal prosecutors to lessen the number of expected felony charges against him. There is no incentive for prosecutors to do so now.
(6) Will Bentley employ the “Executive Ignorance” defense where he blames his criminal conduct on subordinates?
Bentley is notorious for avoiding the acceptance of responsibility for his poor judgment and criminal conduct. He is a habitual liar and master of deceit. The expected fall guy for most, if not all, of Bentley’s racketeering schemes is David Byrne, the governor’s chief legal adviser. Bentley will likely shift the blame for anything that is criminal on the legal advice he received from Byrne and other attorneys. Byrne, who escaped prosecution in connection with the 2009 collapse of Colonial Bank, may have his own criminal issues this time around. In the end, Bentley’s invocation of the “I did not know” or “Executive Ignorance” defense will probably fail. The evidence of Bentley’s hands-on involvement in the racketeering conspiracy is simply too overwhelming to ignore.
(7) What is the criminal exposure for staffers who knew of Bentley’s ongoing racketeering scheme and elected to facilitate it?
Those staffers who knew of the racketeering scheme and withdrew from participation in it are okay. Those who participated under duress will likely get what is known as “Kastigar” letters offering them limited immunity from prosecution in exchange for their truthful testimony against Bentley and Mason. Those who soldiered on in the racketeering conspiracy will be charged as co-conspirators with Bentley and Mason.
(8) What is the impact of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s 28-year federal prison sentence for racketeering on Bentley’s strikingly similar racketeering case?
Our Facebook news team will press the DOJ to make sure that criminal justice is color-blind and equal. Bentley should receive a sentence that is at least equal to the 28 years handed down to fellow racketeer, Kwame Kilpatrick.
(9) Will Montgomery U.S. Attorney George Beck attempt to “fix” the case for Bentley and Mason?
Beck is a close personal friend of David Byrne. He is uniformly regarded within the DOJ as a weak and ineffective prosecutor. The biggest criminal conspiracy operating out of the governor’s office in the Alabama’s history has occurred on Beck’s watch. The racketeers had absolutely no respect for Beck or his abilities as a prosecutor. If Beck could position himself to impact the criminal process in Bentley’s favor, he would do so. Beck dislikes me immensely because I routinely highlight his shortcomings as a federal prosecutor. Our Facebook news team will continue to shine a bright light on Beck to ensure that he does not interfere with the proper administration of justice in Bentley’s case.
(10) Will Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange prosecute state public corruption charges against Bentley and Mason?
Not likely. “Big Luther,” as Strange is affectionately known in political and legal circles, is too compromised by his own extramarital affair to pursue state law public corruption charges against Bentley and Mason. Remember, Strange is the state attorney general who embarrassed Alabama nationally by aggressively trying to execute Anthony Ray Hinton, a former death row inmate, even though Strange knew at the time that Anthony was innocent of the murder for which he had been convicted. Anthony was freed last year after spending nearly 30-years on death row. Strange was willing to snuff out an innocent life to win “law and order” votes from hardcore conservatives during his 2014 re-election. Yet, Strange lacks the courage or political will to charge a real criminal like Bentley with public corruption offenses.
Prosecutors know that Bentley has fallen into a psychotic state of mind where he is erratic, delusional, and paranoid. Bentley is holding on to the only thing he has left — the office of governor. The pressure from his growing “sex for power” and public corruption scandal with Rebekah Mason has taken a heavy psychological and emotional toll on Bentley and has also paralyzed state government. Federal prosecutors realize that they must act quickly and do so before Bentley inflicts further irreparable damage to the citizens of Alabama.