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Editorial Results (free)

1. Celebrities to Sling Cocktails for CLC -

Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., television personality and former professional wrestler Jerry Lawler, and longtime Fox 13 news anchor Mearl Purvis are among the celebrity bartenders who’ll serve up cocktails Thursday, Oct. 27, at Strut Memphis, a benefit for the Community Legal Center.

2. Three Cops Indicted In Nightclub Payoff Case -

Three Memphis police officers arrested on federal bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Lt. Timothy Green and patrol officers Christopher Crawford and Michael Young are now charged in a 53-count indictment with theft or bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

3. UPDATE: Three Cops Indicted In Nightclub Payoff Case -

Three Memphis police officers arrested on federal bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges have been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Lt. Timothy Green and patrol officers Christopher Crawford and Michael Young are now charged in a 53-count indictment with theft or bribery, extortion and conspiracy.

4. Feds Seize Money From Cordova Orthotics Company -

The federal government has seized more than $600,000 from NewGen Advance Orthotics Lab Inc. of Cordova and the company is fighting to get the money back.

5. Thompson Case Points To Shady Culture -

Former Shelby County Board of Commissioners member Bruce Thompson told a federal judge this week his behavior was “anomaly.”

6. Thompson Draws Six Month Prison Sentence - $10,000 Fine - Former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison and fined $10,000 for telling executive of a Jackson, Tn. construction company that he could influence votes on the Memphis school board.

Thompson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla on one count of mail fraud.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could have been sentenced to 21-27 months in prison.

But the plea deal from Thompson's February guilty plea would have allowed Thompson to withdraw his guilty plea if he was sentenced to more than a year and a day in jail. McCalla could have rejected it and the case would have moved toward trial. But McCalla accepted the recommendation of the prosecution and defense to depart from the guidelines.

"I'm here to accept responsibilities for my actions," Thompson told McCalla before the sentence was imposed. "I never expected to be here. ... My reputation has certainly taken a beating. I've spent 25 years building a reputation that's certainly been trashed."

Thompson termed his criminal behavior an "anomaly." His attorney, Leslie Ballin, argued for probation.

McCalla agreed Thompson's behavior in the case was "aberrant." But he also said a prison sentence was called for as a deterrent.

"This is a difficult concept. It only works if people know what happens," McCalla said, referring to the certainty of jail time.

Ballin argued in his position paper that Thompson’s sentence should be determined based on the $7,000 instead of the more than $200,000 Thompson was to be paid by the two construction firms. He also contended Thompson wasn’t using his office as a county commissioner to influence the school board.

“H&M suffered no loss and Thompson only received the fair market value of services rendered by way of his arms-length consulting contract,” Ballin wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza disagreed on the harm done even if Thompson didn’t influence the outcome.

“Whether or not campaign contributions were required to be given in order for H&M Construction Company to win contract approval is irrelevant, as it is uncontested that the defendant conveyed to H&M .... managers that said contributions would in fact be needed to influence the awarding of the contract,” DiScenza wrote in the government’s position paper submitted last week.

McCalla sided with DiScenza in his ruling and the higher amount was a factor in the prison sentence.

Thompson had no comment as he left the Federal Building Wednesday. The federal Bureau of Prisons will determine where and when he reports to prison.

Several dozen family members and friends were in the courtroom to show support. Rev. Craig Strickland, pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church, testified as a character witness for Thompson. He asked McCalla for leniency.

...

7. Thompson Gets Six Month Jail Sentence -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson was sentenced this evening to six months in prison and fined $10,000 for telling executive of a Jackson, Tn. construction company that he could influence votes on the Memphis school board.

Thompson was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla on one count of mail fraud.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, he could have been sentenced to 21-27 months in prison.

But the plea deal from Thompson's February guilty plea would have allowed Thompson to withdraw his guilty plea if he was sentenced to more than a year and a day in jail. McCalla could have rejected it and the case would have moved toward trial. But McCalla accepted the recommendation of the prosecution and defense to depart from the guidelines.

"I'm here to accept responsibilities for my actions," Thompson told McCalla before the sentence was imposed. "I never expected to be here. ... My reputation has certainly taken a beating. I've spent 25 years building a reputation that's certainly been trashed."

Thompson termed his criminal behavior an "anomaly." His attorney, Leslie Ballin, argued for probation.

McCalla agreed Thompson's behavior in the case was "aberrant." But he also said a prison sentence was called for as a deterrent.

"This is a difficult concept. It only works if people know what happens," McCalla said, referring to the certainty of jail time.

Leaders of H&M Construction Company, who hired Thompson in 2004 to win a contract to build three Memphis city schools had some vocal misgivings about what Thompson was doing.

The reservations are detailed in an excerpt from an FBI report in what became a federal corruption case.

The FBI report excerpt, also known as a “302,” was filed as part of Ballin’s argument that Thompson should avoid prison time and instead be sentenced to probation.

Back and forth

Thompson admitted taking $7,000 in 2004 from two construction firms, H&M Construction and Salton-Fox Construction of Memphis. The payment was made to Thompson after he told the companies’ executives he could control votes on the Memphis City Schools board because of his position as a county commissioner. The companies, working in partnership, were seeking the construction contract.

Thompson quibbled about his precise role, according to the FBI report on its interview with James E. Campbell of H&M.

“I’m not lobbying, I’m consulting,” Campbell quoted Thompson as saying.

Campbell drew up a consulting contract, but Thompson never signed it.

Campbell had five meetings with Thompson when he spotted Thompson on H&M’s parking lot in Jackson talking with another company official, Dewitt Day. Thompson asked Campbell what he thought about making campaign contributions to four school board members.

“It looks like this for that,” Campbell remembered replying.

He said Thompson’s response was, “It’s legal to do.”

Campbell planned to write the campaign contribution checks and “it was agreed Thompson would deliver the checks to the recipients.”

“While writing the first check, Campbell decided it didn’t look good for H&M to give campaign contributions to these individuals,” the FBI report reads. “Campbell then thought about using H&M subcontractors to give the contributions but ultimately decided Day could give the $7,000 to his relatives in Memphis and have them deliver the contributions in their name.”

Day “grabbed” $7,000 and drove to Memphis, according to the FBI. His brother-in-law also didn’t like the looks of the money exchange and consulted attorney and former Memphis City Council member John Bobango.

“Bobango advised Day not to give these campaign contributions because H&M already had the (school board) votes to win approval,” the FBI 302 reads. Campbell told Thompson and others, including construction executive Kirby Salton, that the deal was off.

“Thompson and Salton went on to say that the four individuals would be disappointed and Campbell got the impression the ‘votes could go the other way,’” according to the report. It was Thompson’s conduct during the conference call that broke the law, Ballin conceded.

Campbell then wrote Salton a check for $7,000 and “never questioned Salton on whether he delivered the campaign contribution to the four individuals.”

Money differences

Ballin argued in his position paper that Thompson’s sentence should be determined based on the $7,000 instead of the more than $250,000 Thompson was paid by the two construction firms. He also contended Thompson wasn’t using his office as a county commissioner to influence the school board.

“H&M suffered no loss and Thompson only received the fair market value of services rendered by way of his arms-length consulting contract,” Ballin wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim DiScenza disagreed on the harm done even if Thompson didn’t influence the outcome.

“Whether or not campaign contributions were required to be given in order for H&M Construction Company to win contract approval is irrelevant, as it is uncontested that the defendant conveyed to H&M .... managers that said contributions would in fact be needed to influence the awarding of the contract,” DiScenza wrote in the government’s position paper submitted last week.

McCalla sided with DiScenza in his ruling and the higher dollar amount was a factor in the prison sentence.

Salton and school board members Wanda Halbert, Sara Lewis, Willie Brooks and Hubon Sandridge all testified before the federal grand jury that indicted Thompson. Salton said publicly that he paid several thousand dollars to a campaign worker for Halbert, who has since been elected to the Memphis City Council. Halbert denied any knowledge of getting the cash but listed on an amended campaign finance report $2,000 that was lost.

DiScenza said in February that the four school board members mentioned by Thompson but never identified in court were not aware of the deal, and none has ever been charged with taking the money.

Thompson had no comment as he left the Federal Building this evening. The federal Bureau of Prisons will determine where and when he reports to prison.

...

8. Thompson Pleads Guilty to Fraud -

Former Shelby County Board of Commissioners member Bruce Thompson pleaded guilty Wednesday to a federal fraud charge in a corruption case involving a 2004 construction contract to build three Memphis city schools.

9. Platinum Plus Owner Sentenced -

It might have been one of the more unique statements ever made during a sentencing hearing in Memphis federal court.

"I didn't realize the girl shows were prostitution. But I should have," strip club owner Ralph Lunati told U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

10. Lunati Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison -

The owner of the city’s best known strip club owners was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Ralph Lunati pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Under terms of the plea deal, Lunati could have withdrawn his guilty plea had U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays sentenced him to more than 18 months.

11. Lunati Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison -

The owner of the city’s best known strip club was sentenced today to 18 months in prison on a federal conspiracy charge.

Ralph Lunati pleaded guilty in November to one count of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Under terms of the plea deal, Lunati could have withdrawn his guilty plea had U.S. District Court Judge Hardy Mays sentenced him to more than 18 months.

12. Thompson Trial Set for March 31 -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson's pending corruption trial appears to be on a fast track. U.S. District Jon P. McCalla this week set a March 31 trial date on the charges of extortion and mail fraud.

13. Thompson Proclaims Innocence While Prosecution Proceeds -

Former Shelby County Commissioner Bruce Thompson's defense against public corruption charges could touch on some fundamental questions about the private business dealings of public officials.

Thompson turned himself in to the U.S. Marshals Service Wednesday, the day after a federal grand jury indicted him on one count of extortion and three counts of mail fraud.

14. Oilman Charged in Cemetery Scandal to Stay in Jail for Now -

MEMPHIS (AP) - Oklahoma oilman Clayton Smart, charged after authorities said millions of dollars were missing from a $90 million cemetery trust fund, will remain in the Shelby County Jail at least until August.

15. Legal Community Gets Chance To Dissect Winkler Case -

Attorneys are said to practice law because that is exactly what they do - constantly practice to learn more about their craft and the law itself.

So when a high-profile case such as the recent first-degree murder trial of Mary Winkler comes along, it offers a unique opportunity for attorneys to take a look back and see what can be learned.

16. Archived Article: Law Focus - Balance between liberty, security tenuous after 9/11

Balance between liberty, security tenuous after 9/11

By BRYAN MASSEY

The Daily News

In these worrisome, eventful, sometimes unnerving post-Sept. 11 days, three Memphis lawyers agree pe...

17. Archived Article: Law Briefs - The American Law Institute-American Bar Association Committee on Continuing Professional Education opened the nominating perio The Memphis Bar Association presents "Criminal Law for the General Practitioner" from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Fri...

18. Archived Article: Gov't (lead) - Criminal court Court costs on increase By KATHLEEN BURT The Daily News Beginning today, those who have cases in many of the courts of Shelby County will see increases in service fees. The increases were approved during the 1999 legislative session. ...

19. Archived Article: Law Briefs - The Memphis Bar Association will present a seminar on the art of jury selection from 1:30 p The Memphis Bar Association will present a seminar on the art of jury selection from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Friday at Sams Town Hotel in Robinsonville, Miss....

20. Archived Article: Law Briefs - The Memphis Bar Association will continue its estate planning series from 4:30 p The Memphis Bar Association will continue its estate planning series from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Racquet Club, 5111 Sanderlin. The seminar offers two hou...

21. Archived Article: Law Focus St - By SUZANNE THOMPSON Stepping up to the bar New MBA president wants association to be more "lawyer friendly" By SUZANNE THOMPSON The Daily News Now that the changing of the guard is complete at the Memphis Bar Association, the new group of ...

22. Archived Article: Back-mba - Bar association sets Bar association sets final candidate slate The slate of 1998 officer and director candidates for the Memphis Bar Association has been finalized. No nominations were received from the membership in the time allotted under the byl...

23. Archived Article: Focus2 - Bar association committee announces nominees Bar association committee announces nominees Prince C. Chambliss Jr., president of the Memphis Bar Association, has released the report of its nominations and elections committee chaired by Max Shelton. T...