The unco-operative Mr. Beckley (Part II)

No question mark this time—further indications that he's not a co-operating witness

by , Dec 28, 2011 | 12:31 pm

I wrote a blog post a week ago suggesting that Brent Beckley, who pleaded guilty on December 20th to two federal counts in the Black Friday indictments, may not be a co-operating witness for the government. This was based on a reading of the press release issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (the USAO) and a comparison of what we know of Mr. Beckley’s situation with what we know of Bradley Franzen’s circumstances. Recall that Mr. Franzen pled guilty this past May to three counts associated with the same superseding indictment. Last week’s post was not based on a review of Mr. Beckley’s plea agreement, a copy of which was posted at the Association of Players, Casinos, and Webmasters’ website.

Based on a comparison of Mr. Beckley’s plea agreement with Mr. Franzen’s plea agreement, I’m even more convinced that Mr. Beckley is not a co-operator.

First, let’s look at Mr. Franzen’s agreement. It contains the caveat that the sentence to be imposed is within the sole discretion of the US District Court and is careful to note that the USAO is not making any promise or representation about the sentence that Mr. Franzen will receive. (Mr. Beckley’s agreement has substantially the same language.) However, read the third paragraph on page 2 of Mr. Franzen’s plea. This paragraph sets out that Mr. Franzen is to do a number of things for the US Attorney further to this transaction. For example, he is to “truthfully and completely disclose all information with respect to the activities of himself and others concerning all matters about which this Office inquires of him, which information can be used for any purpose.” He is to attend all meetings at which the USAO requests his presence. Mr. Franzen is to bring to the Department of Justice’s attention “all crimes which he has committed, and all administrative, civil, or criminal proceedings, investigations, or prosecutions in which he has been or is a subject, target, party, or witness.” He is to provide truthful testimony at any trial—including, presumably, at the trial of John Campos and Chad Elie next March, if it goes forward—and at “any other court proceeding with respect to any matters about which this Office may request his testimony.” The essence of what this paragraph is after is in (b): that Mr. Franzen is to “cooperate fully with this Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and any other law enforcement agency designated by this Office.” In return for his co-operation, and notwithstanding that his sentence will be up to the court, the USAO will (at page 3) inform the probation department and the court, among other things, of Mr. Franzen’s plea agreement and “the nature and extent of Mr. Franzen’s co-operation with this Office.” This is why Mr. Franzen doesn’t yet have a sentencing date. The government is waiting to see how he performs as a co-operator first; that will be one of the factors affecting his sentence.

Now read Mr. Beckley’s plea agreement. It sets out the counts to which he pleaded guilty, stipulates that he agrees to forfeit $300,000, and establishes a schedule related to that forfeiture. It also contains stipulations related to the sentencing guidelines and (as discussed above) it leaves any term of incarceration up to the court. (The parties also agreed that Mr. Beckley’s stipulated guidelines sentencing range is 12-18 months.) But none of the extensive co-operating language in Mr. Franzen’s deal is in Mr. Beckley’s plea agreement. According to Mr. Beckley’s plea, he doesn’t need to testify before a grand jury or at trial or at any other proceedings. He need not give information about any other party in response to any queries put to him by the USAO. He doesn’t have to attend any meeting at the USAO’s request. In short, he doesn’t have to co-operate with the USAO, the FBI, or any other law enforcement agency under the terms of his deal.

It looks like all Brent Beckley has to do is show up to be sentenced on April 19, 2012.

Let’s see what happens in the spring. But based on the publicly-available documents, it appears that Mr. Beckley does not need to do anything to help the government in order to move ahead with his sentencing, and I’m even more confident that he’s not a co-operator. He also presently appears to have more of a final date for getting out of this case than any other Black Friday defendant.

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