Alabama Legislators and Casino Employees to Be Re-Tried


The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama has postponed the retrial of eight defendants on corruption charges relating to the gambling industry and various State legislators and employees, originally scheduled to commence on October 3, until January 9, 2012, according to The charges stemmed from an FBI investigation into alleged bribery of legislators relating to an upcoming vote on a gambling bill. Two of the defendants, Alabama State Senator Quinton Ross and VictoryLand casino lobbyist Bob Geddie, were acquitted on August 11, following a nine week trial and an additional week of jury deliberations. The jury deadlocked as to the other defendants. None of the defendants were convicted.

The Court stated that ti would rule on whether to retry the defendants together or in separate trials. The defense has opposed severance, citing that the defendants were all tried jointly and claiming that the government is attempting to change the rules midway through the game.

The defense raised concerns regarding the rescheduled date, suggesting that it might conflict with the college football National Championship game in New Orleans. 

Pfizer Hit With 140 Million RICO Verdict Over Alleged Promotion of Off-Label Uses for Epilepsy Drug Neurontin

As reported in the National Law Journal, a federal jury in Massachusetts last week returned a $47 million verdict against pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for allegedly promoting Neurontin, an epilepsy drug manufactured by Pfizer, for off-label uses in alleged violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. Since the RICO statute provides for treble (triple) damages, the amount of the verdict is actually $141 million.

The plaintiffs, Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, alleged that Pfizer allegedly deceived the organizations into believing that Neurotin could be used to effectively treat conditions such as migraines and bipolar disorder. Neurontin has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration since 1993 to treat epilepsy.

Pfizer officials have issued a statement stating that the company will appeal the verdict. Pfizer officials allege that Kaiser misled the jury during trial and that it continues to recommend Neurontin to its patients for the off-label uses. Officials claimed that Neurontin is safe and effective.


Wecht Fur Continues to Fly

The fur continues to fly in the Wecht case in the run up to the retrial, currently scheduled for May, 27 2008. 

As I have previously stated in this blog, it is my hope that this blog will raise the standard of the criminal defense bar by posting pleadings that can be accessed and then used in one’s own practice. In that respect, the filings by Wecht’s counsel provide us with an excellent standard to emulate:

  •             The defense has recently filed a Motion to Dismiss for Prosecutorial Misconduct (the brief is available here), alleging that the investigating agent and the lead AUSA have committed prosecutorial misconduct which infected the search warrant affidavit and the trial by suggesting that the movement of certain evidence occurred on one day in an effort at concealment, when, in fact, it occurred on a different day, such that no concealment could have occurred. This post trial motions practice is of an exceptionally high quality and brings to light some very disturbing allegations related to the prosecution’s handling of this troubling case.
  •             The defense has Renewed its Motion for Verdict of Acquittal under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 29 alleging that the government failed to prove any misrepresentation or concealment. It is particularly interesting how interwoven these pleadings are because the Renewed Motion for Verdict of Acquittal ties in nicely with the prosecutorial misconduct motion and the government contention of concealment of evidence, which, is at the very least mistaken.  
  •             And, finally, the defense has raised a Double Jeopardy claim related to the manner in which the mistrial was declared (this is no doubt a long shot, but generally a litigant is entitled to a direct appeal from the denial of a double jeopardy claim), and now seeks to appeal the trial judge’s denial of that motion.

Wecht is being capabably represented. These pleadings provide all of us in the defense bar with exceptional post judgment guides.