Jim Hendrick’s reply to yesterday’s Taking Applications for Homeland Security Positions post, which you can reach by clicking on that link. Jim’s part is in italics.
Sloan,This is written notice that your blog post today contained a false and defamatory statement about me, i.e.,that I was convicted for “conspiracy to solicit bribes for a county commissioner”.
If you insist.
I don’t insist on anything, Jim. If you sue me, it’s at your insistence. And it will be picking hairs.
From the Internet, here’s the Key West Citizen article reporting your conviction:
HENDRICK FOUND GUILTY ON ALL CHARGES – 02/24/2007
Citizen Staff KEY WEST — A jury found former County Attorney Jim Hendrick guilty of conspiracy, witness tampering and obstruction of justice Friday, after deliberating for about two hours.
Hendrick, 59, immediately was taken to the Federal Detention Center in Miami, where he will remain in custody until his May 4 sentencing. He faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
His wife, Vera Vasek, maintained his innocence to reporters outside the federal courthouse in Key West and said he would appeal his conviction.
“We will continue to fight, every step of the way, to prove his innocence,” Vasek said.
A judge denied Hendrick’s request for bond while he files his appeal on the four charges, which include two counts of witness tampering.
Jurors declined to answer media questions as they left the courthouse. An alternate, who did not take part in the deliberations, said she had not formed an opinion about Hendrick’s guilt or innocence.
“They came back so quickly, I thought it would have went the other way,” said Joan Teach, who stayed to listen to the verdict. “I really did not have a chance to process it all. I was tired by the end of each day. … We also could not take our notes home. I really didn’t have a chance to form an opinion. I really didn’t.”
Hendrick’s attorney, Ed Shohat, declined to comment on the verdict.
Prosecuting attorney Brenda Morris, who questioned Hendrick on cross-examination and gave closing arguments, also declined to comment about the case.
Morris and fellow federal prosecutor Christopher Clark built a case that Hendrick was involved in a bribery scheme and subsequent cover-up as federal investigators began questioning people about it. Former County Mayor Jack London and political consultant Randy Hilliard admitted that developer Marvin Rappaport paid them $82,500 to secure building permits to redevelop his Hall’s Resort in Marathon in 1996.
The Planning Department previously had said the redevelopment plans did not conform to development regulations. London, who was to testify in the trial, died in November.
Hendrick did not receive money, but allegedly arranged the bribe and orchestrated the cover-up, prosecutors said. He advised London to leave the country to avoid having to testify before a grand jury. He also tried to get Hilliard to tailor his grand jury testimony to mirror what London had told FBI agents, prosecutors said.
Key to the prosecution was the testimony of London’s widow, Elaine, who gave a detailed account of a lunch she had with her husband and Hendrick at the Pier House on March 17, 2004. In talking about the case possibly going before the federal grand jury in Key West, Hendrick told London to go to Ireland, Elaine London testified.
Morris finished her closing argument citing part of Elaine’s testimony, when she said the two had referred to themselves as “the two most powerful men in Monroe County.”
“He’s just a man. He’s an arrogant man,” Morris told the jury. “He has duped Monroe County for years and he thinks maybe he can get away with it … I submit to you that the defendant never thought Elaine London would have the strength to come in here and testify.”
London was arrested at the Key West International Airport before his flight to Ireland in 2004 and charged with lying to federal agents and tax evasion for not reporting the bribe money. The statute of limitations on the bribe had run out. The feds dropped the lying charge after London began cooperating with the FBI.
Hilliard, who was granted immunity for his testimony, was another key witness, having secretly taped conversations between himself and Hendrick for the FBI. On one tape, Hendrick said London “rose in our eyes when he didn’t stand up and tell them what we had done,” referring to himself and developer Pritam Singh. In another, Hendrick told Hilliard “in the eyes of the government I am your co-conspirator.”
The courtroom was filled with Hendrick supporters, many of whom looked stunned and gasped when the verdict was read. Minutes before, Hendrick, a self-proclaimed Buddhist, closed his eyes and appeared to be meditating as the crowd sat quietly awaiting the verdict.
The scene was a stark contrast from most days of the three-week trial. Jokes had been exchanged between prosecutors and defense attorneys, and Hendrick supporters mingled among each other during breaks.
On cross appeal by the US Attorney and you to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, your probation sentence was reversed as being outside the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and your conviction was affirmed.
I may have not stated the conspiracy count accurately. If you will send me the correct description, I will publish that to correct the record and my trivial mistake.
What I recall from your resentencing hearing in Ft. Lauderdale last fall was a great deal of your fate that day hinged on whether the new federal judge assigned to your case accepted the higher dollar number paid to Randy Hilliard, as a consulting/lobbyist fee, or whether the judge accepted only the lower amount, the bribe, County Commissioner Jack London actually received, as the basis for calculating the gravity of your crime and the length/severity of your sentence under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Your attorney argued for and did not contest the lower amount, the bribe, while the US Attorney argued for the higher amount. The judge went with the lower amount, because it was the illegal amount (the bribe amount), was how I understood the judge’s statements and reasoning.
From where I sat in the audience, and I don’t think I was alone, the judge going with only what Jack London actually received allowed the judge to resentence you to new terms and conditions of probation, instead of giving you a prison sentence. We all were happy for you at the time, but I have to say today that I now regret my having written an email to the judge in your behalf prior to the resentencing hearing. It was what the angels told me to do, so I did it, even though it was against my better judgement. You were the County Attorney of Monroe County, as well as a practicing lawyer, when these shenanigans occurred. You betrayed the public trust. You appealed your conviction, instead of accepting it as proof that you had done what you were convicted of doing. You maintained your innoncence and showed no remorse or contrition. You should have gone to prison.
If you sue me for defamation for what basically is a scrivener’s error on my part, I imagine the trial will be rather interesting. You will call witnesses to prove your good reputation in the community where you live and work. I will cross examine your witnesses and call witnesses of my own, who testify that your reputation in the community where you live and work is horrible and that you are the personification of Evil and have no good reputation to be besmirched. I will call the second federal judge, who left you out on probation, and your federal probation officer. I will call your friends and relatives as adverse witnesses, under subpoena. Some of their names: Pritam Singh, Roger Bernstein, the Spottswoods, Todd German, Vera Vasec, your old law partners. They, and witnesses you call in your behalf, will be put through the wringer, but that will not matter to you. I have never met a more selfish, conceited, megalomaniac person than you, Jim. You truly believe you are above the law, even though the facts have clearly proven you are not.
Relevant at your retrial might be the Citizen Editorial cartoons of you and me. I was portrayed at Don Quixote doing battle with the Gang of Three on the County Commisson. You were protrayed, according to Todd German the other day, as Darth Vader saying to government officials something like, “Do what I tell you to do.” A member of the Citizen Editoral Board, Todd thought both editorial cartoons were funny. I did not think yours was funny; I thought it was a true statement of who Jim Hendrick really is by the only daily newspaper in the Keys. As was the editoral cartoon about me a true statement of who I really am.
You call your consulting firm, Critical Concern, Inc., a hijack of Monroe County being designated by the State of Florida as an area of critical concern as the result of runaway development, disregard of the environment, and public corruption, in all of which you were a, if not the, major player, as the County Attorney and the premiere local land use attorney in private practice. Area of Critical concern you indeed are, Jim, in need of permanent oversight and regulation. I leave you with your self-delusions.
Political advertisement, paid for and approved by me, District 2 county commission candidate from the school of the Federal Judiciary, where I was trained by a member thereof, as his law clerk. Judge Clarennce W. Allgood tried all of the federal criminal cases in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, and was revered as a man and a judge. The most righteous man I have known in my life.
I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.