Scanlon’s Sentencing Delayed

Posted July 12, 2010 at 10:16am

Michael Scanlon, a key figure in the influence-peddling investigation centered on disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, will not be sentenced until at least October after a federal judge agreed Friday to postpone his court date, citing a recent Supreme Court decision that narrowed a public corruption statute central to Scanlon’s plea deal.

Responding to a request from Scanlon’s defense team, U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle scrapped an August sentencing date and scheduled a new hearing on Oct. 4.

Attorney Stephen Braga, along with Plato Cacheris and John Hundley, asserted in a Thursday motion, that the defense needs time to review its client’s plea as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Skilling v. United States.

In that case, the Supreme Court limited the use of a public corruption statute known as the “honest services” law to only those cases involving bribery or kickback schemes. Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, who was charged under the law, had argued that the statute was too vague.

“Much of the conduct to which Scanlon pled guilty was predicated on the ‘honest service’ fraud statute. In Scanlon’s plea agreement, this ‘honest services’ fraud conduct was — in turn — the principal driver of both his offense level and restitution calculations,” Braga wrote.

Braga added that he believes that review may establish a “challenge to the ‘honest services’ fraud portions of Scanlon’s plea.”

“[I]f the parties cannot reach agreement upon how to resolve any ‘honest services’ fraud challenge to Scanlon’s plea, then it will take some additional time as well for the parties to brief that challenge for decision by the Court,” Braga wrote.

Scanlon pleaded guilty in November 2005 to one count of conspiracy to violate federal laws including bribery and honest services fraud.

The former spokesman for ex-Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) later opened his own public relations firm and colluded with Abramoff to overbill American Indian tribes for services.

Federal prosecutors did not object to the request to delay Scanlon’s sentencing date.