Monday, June 16, 2008

accepting bribes in exchange for dismissing criminal charges

Caribou prosecutor charged
SODA SPRINGS - Attorney General Lawrence Wasden's office announced Caribou County Prosecutor Criss James has been charged for allegedly accepting bribes in exchange for dismissing criminal charges.

James was charged Monday with 11 felony counts of misuse of public funds. According to a Tuesday press release, the complaint alleges that between March 25, 2006 and July 2, 2007, James accepted 15 checks from defendants in exchange for dismissing charges against them....


  1. Geez, does that really surprise anyone? As despicable as it is, corruption within the prosecutorial arm of the justice system is all too common. Take for example the financial elder abuse case (defendants were Russavage, Overturff & Haans) filed in Del Norte County a couple of years back. The 40+ count, felony complaint against all three defendants was dismissed by the District Attorney (Michael Riese) in exchange for, among other things, a $100,000 kick-back deposited into the County coiffers and earmarked for the District Attorney's own department budget. The kick-back was initially claimed by the DA, to be for "reimbursement" of costs expended by his department during the investigation of the case. But the DA conveniently ignored as well as intentially misrepresented the fact that other than a few interviews and some token leg-work by his DA Investigator (who is paid to investigate such crimes in the first place), the bulk of the investigation (i.e., the forensic financial work) was conducted by employees of the State of California via the Department of Justice. When notified about the dismissal, representatives from the State were surprised by the news of the dismissal. Even more concerning was the State representative's outright denial of having given a seal of approval to the plea deal as the DA so testified to when questioned under oath during a Grand Jury investigation. The next "justification" for solicitation of the kick-back, as offered by the DA was that the $100,000 was to be used to fund an elder abuse investigation/prosecution unit within the DA's Office. The County Admininstration of course bought the DA's bridge; hook line and sinker. However, no such specialized prosecution unit was ever assembled nor any subsequent elder abuse case ever funded with any of the kick-back monies. In fact, the $100,000 was used as payroll for a Law Clerk (law school graduate awaiting State Bar exam results), then payroll for that Law Clerk-turned-DDA after he passed the State Bar, and not surprisingly once again as payroll for yet another DDA after the Law Clerk-turned-DDA moved on to greener pasture! What's most appalling and troublesome is a certain Penal Code section that specifically prohibits the plea bargaining of elder abuse cases (and yes, it does include financial elder abuse cases) was not only ignored by the DA but also by a presiding Judge, who shamefully allowed the dismissal to occur without even raising an eyebrow. As if that wasn't bad enough, when the scandal was brought to light... the State Prosecutors in the AG's Office, after only a mere glance at the blatant affront to Justice, just shrugged their shoulders and declared that it wasn't worth the trip up to lil ole Del Norte County to deal with! And one wonders why such a pervasive and deep-rooted practice of corruption, abuse of authority and misconduct permiates the highest ranks of the legal system and political communities in rural communities, including our own. Why any self-respecting representative of the judicial system or any officer of the court would ever believe even for one moment that the smug pandering of Justice for professional gain is any less offensive (not to mention criminal) then when done for personal gain is truly mind boggling at best. So in closing, I dare suggest that the all-mighty egos of the DA in Del Norte County and the DDA mentioned above are the by-product of power and influence placed in the hands of narcisstic personalities. Who are allowed to rise through that ever widening hole in the moral fabric of our precious justice system and thrive in communities where integrity, ethics and accountability are fast becoming mere ideals that Local Authorities and State Officials so willingly choose to ignore. Sad, very sad indeed!

  2. Hell, our DA does this all of the time. He gets money from dopers and then dismisses their charges. The same with other crimes. And, these are not civil compromises nor are they crimes which would qualify for civil compromises.


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