R.K.: So Christie is in a lot of trouble. Okay so you mentioned and you differentiated between wire and mail fraud and RICO crimes. What are the differences?
S.A.: With RICO, which is Racketeering and Influencing Organizations Act, basically to give it to you in a layman's term, there are a certain number of individual crimes that the government has said look we want to crack down on, but we're not able to get at the individuals because they're hiding behind a corporate veil or they're hiding behind an organization.
So what we've done and it came out of Notre Dame with a man by the name of Blakely, he said listen, we need to get a law in the books that said if in ten years you do two certain crimes and you use an organization to do it, we can now get you for racketeering. That way we can, in criminal terms or should I say layman's terms, pierce the corporate veil.
So you can't, if you have an organization, say you're a police officer and you take two bribes, and you did it as a police officer, now we can get you in Federal Court because you have violated the RICO statute. You have committed two counts of bribery in ten years and you used either the fraternal order of police or whatever police department you're on as the organization. That's a little tougher to do to get somebody on than wire and mail fraud. And the reason is this, wire and mail fraud is conducting a fraud by using the mail in any way shape or form, even if you yourself didn't use the mail or the wire, if somebody that you were doing this with did you are now under mail and wire fraud.
I'll give you an example which is, let's suppose somebody robs a store in a state by fraudulent activity. You go in there and you tell them you're going to give them a product and the product is faulty, you know it's faulty, and you do this over and over. Now you haven't used the mail at all, you have gone in there, talked to them, had a conversation with them, they give you a check, you give them the product, you know it's false, now you have done nothing to violate the Federal Laws, until you realize this, that the giving of the check and then the depositing of it into a bank is now wire or mail fraud. You used the wires to get the money transferred from on bank to another, you have used the mail that they mail that check in to get the money into your account. Now it's a federal crime. Now you're not just dealing with the state, so it's very easy, even though you never intended to use the mail, even though you didn't do anything on the internet. Just the depositing of a check into that bank now you violated federal laws.
And this situation with Blagojevich and the situation with Christie, that's never going to be a problem for the government to prove. Why? Because the Sandy funds that were given from the Federal Government to the state of New Jersey were given via the wire, so now you have used, if it's shown to be fraud, now you have used a wire to do that. So the Feds are involved because of interstate commerce.
If you sent out campaign, this is one of the things that we argued in Blagojevich and lost, if you use the mails to send out campaign literature and then you've used that campaign literature to create a fraud, now you have used a wire. Now the Feds can come in under federal crimes. So it's very very easy to get caught up by the Feds on the use of wire and mail fraud and a little harder on RICO.
R.K.: So, that's real clear to me that if the Feds want to mess with you and screw up your life they have the carte blanche ability to do it for just about anybody who breaths.
S.A.: There is absolutely no question about that. I have spent my entire, my father spent his entire career, I spent my entire career, fighting against that. Now what I mean by that is of course nobody is for crime, nobody is. But there is so much power here that can be leveled by the Federal Government on individuals that you can't possible compete and there are so many laws on the books here that if they want to do it, they certainly can.
I don't think there's anybody who has filed a tax return as an adult and gone through and not at some point made mistakes that can be seen as fraudulent. There's nobody. Nobody has filed a return that's been 100%, nobody. And if the Feds want to mess with you that's one of the ways in which they can do it. Why? You have to mail in or electronically file your taxes.
Once you do that, the Feds automatically have jurisdiction and so that's one of the things I have spent my entire career fighting against is, look, the individuals here, the little guys here, doesn't have a shot if the government wants to come at you. Now, Christie and Blagojevich are, in my opinion, a little bit different. I don't believe Blagojevich committed an actual crime.
Do I like the governor of my state making references between him getting a job in exchange for giving a senate seat away? Of course not. Of course I don't. But I don't think it's criminal until you take an actual act and do something. But if the government wants to say it is a criminal act and gave him fourteen years, a non-violent offense, he ended up getting fourteen years. That's why I was so passionate about it at the time, we have a government here that is in many instances over-zealous, over-burdensome and goes after individuals for things that aren't actual crimes.
The reason I think Christie may have a serious problem here, I'm not saying he does, but he certainly MAY have a serious problem here is it's even more explicit than what Blagojevich was charged with doing. There's now accusations here that you tried to trade Sandy funds for getting a job done and also at the same time, while that's occurring, the individual's law firm who is representing the party that is trying to get the project approved is somebody that you appointed to the port authority. Now that's pretty darn close, and who is involved in sending emails back and forth about getting the traffic problems for the city and the Mayor who went against the Governor. That's some pretty serious allegations here and misuse of power which is not what we had in Blagojevich.
R.K.: What is the decision tree in the Feds deciding to throw all of their resources against Christie? What would that look like?
S.A.: Now, (laughing) the truth is I honestly have no idea. I can tell you what they'll say is that there are no political implications in the US Attorney's office. They don't care whether he's a republican, he's a democrat, he's an independent, whether he's a green party, that's what they'll tell you. What do I believe? I believe that politics play a huge part in this.
I believe when it comes to Blagojevich I truly believe this, that at the same time that he got arrested was right when President Obama was coming in to be sworn in and they had to get Blagojevich arrested before that because Obama would not want coming from Chicago, coming from Illinois having dealt with Blagojevich and just coming in as a new president would not want the governor arrested.