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Broadcom Prosecution Collapses as Judge Finds Sweeping Misconduct by Federal Prosecutors

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On Tuesday, Federal Judge Cormac Carney (an All Pac-10 wide receiver for UCLA before George W. Bush appointed him to the bench) dropped a bombshell in the Broadcom case pending in a federal court in Orange County, California. Prosecutors had built a case against Broadcom founder Henry T. Nicholas III and CFO William Ruehle based on options backdating. The judge dismissed the charges against them, unleashing a torrent of attacks on the prosecutors who brought the case for potentially criminal wrongdoing. Carney’s choicest words had to do with the prosecutors’ bogus case against an engineer, Dr. Henry Samueli:

The uncontroverted evidence at trial established that Dr. Samueli was a brilliant engineer and a man of incredible integrity. There was no evidence at trial to suggest that Dr. Samueli did anything wrong, let alone criminal. Yet, the government embarked on a campaign of intimidation and other misconduct to embarrass him and bring him down.

Among other wrongful acts the government,

One, unreasonably demanded that Dr. Samueli submit to as many as 30 grueling interrogations by the lead prosecutor.

Two, falsely stated and improperly leaked to the media that Dr. Samueli was not cooperating in the government’s investigation.

Three, improperly pressured Broadcom to terminate Dr. Samueli’s employment and remove him from the board.

Four, misled Dr. Samueli into believing that the lead prosecutor would be replaced because of misconduct.

Five, obtained an inflammatory indictment that referred to Dr. Samueli 72 times and accused him of being an unindicted coconspirator when the government knew, or should have known, that he did nothing wrong.

And seven, [sic] crafted an unconscionable plea agreement pursuant to which Dr. Samueli would plead guilty to a crime he did not commit and pay a ridiculous sum of $12 million to the United States Treasury.

One must conclude that the government engaged in this misconduct to pressure Dr. Samueli to falsely admit guilt and incriminate Mr. Ruehle or, if he was unwilling to make such a false admission and incrimination, to destroy Dr. Samueli’s credibility as a witness for Mr. Ruehle. Needless to say, the government’s treatment of Dr. Samueli was shameful and contrary to American values of decency and justice.

The judge also notes that prosecutors stooped so low as to engage in a campaign of intimidation targeting one defendant’s thirteen-year-old son, whom they wanted to force to give evidence against his father. What the judge catalogues here is a laundry list of the tactics of Bush-era prosecutors who handled high-profile cases, especially cases which targeted political adversaries. The U.S. Attorney responsible for the case, and who ostensibly supervised the prosecutors involved, Bush holdover George S. Cardona, informed the judge he “respectfully disagreed with the decision.”

With the case against Broadcom disposed of, the question becomes what to do with the misbehaving prosecutors. If they are not disciplined–which has been the norm for the past eight years–that will furnish further evidence that their outrageous conduct is fully supported by those in charge at the Justice Department.

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