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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly


Lobbyist says he was pressured to testify against Espy (10-31-98)

Judge throws out 8 1/2 counts against Espy

Bulk of government's case intact

By Ted Barrett/CNN


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics) -- A federal judge in the corruption trial of Mike Espy threw out eight and a half counts against the former agriculture secretary but left the bulk of the government's case intact, and in the hands of the jury who will begin deliberating the case in a week.

Espy was charged by Independent Counsel Donald Smaltz with 38 counts of accepting illegal gratuities from companies he regulated at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), then lying about or covering up the gifts.

U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Urbina dismissed two counts alleging Espy illegally accepted four Super Bowl tickets from the Fernbank Natural History Museum of Atlanta in January of 1994. At the time, Fernbank had a contract with the USDA to construct a Smokey the Bear traveling exhibit for the U.S. Forest Service, a branch of the USDA.

Urbina also threw out a count that charged Espy with accepting an illegal gift in the form of a $1,200 scholarship from poultry company Tyson Foods Inc., that went to Espy's then-girlfriend Patricia Dempsey.

A false statement count, alleging Espy lied to the FBI about travel to a party sponsored by Tyson boss, Don Tyson, was also put aside.

In addition, three mail or wire fraud counts, an illegal gratuity charge involving a crystal bowl filled with Sun-Maid raisins, and a federal Travel Act violation charge for attending a Chicago Bulls playoff game were dismissed.

"The framework of the case is very much in place," said Deputy Independent Counsel William Noakes.


Tuesday, November 24, 1998

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