United States District Court Judge Dennis Cavanaugh today threw out all of former state Sen. Joseph Coniglio’s post-trial motions to dismiss his indictment and conviction, according to U.S. Attorney spokesman Michael Drewniak.
Coniglio defense attorney Gerald Krovatin had filed several motions, most notably arguing that Coniglio was selectively prosecuted by former U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is now running for governor. Cavanaugh ruled that Krovatin failed to show any evidence of discrimination,
“Judge Cavanaugh made the specific finding that Krovatin and Coniglio failed to show any discriminatory effect or intent in this office's prosecution of Coniglio and noted that Krovatin failed to identify any similarly situated individuals (in the legislature) who could have been but were not prosecuted in our investigation of Coniglio and others,” wrote Drewniak in an email to PolitickerNJ.com.
The decision effectively quashes a subpoena Krovatin sent to The Record seeking a recording and notes of Christie's interview by the newspaper's editorial board.
*Update: The U.S. Attorney's office issued a press release this afternoon listing all the motions Krovatin filed. Below:
1) MOTION: The Court should grant an evidentiary hearing and dismiss the Indictment in this matter because defendant Coniglio was selectively prosecuted for partisan political purposes based on his protected status as a member of a political party and democratic state legislator – DENIED
Judge Cavanaugh made specific findings that Krovatin and Coniglio failed to show any discriminatory effect or intent in U.S. Attorney’s Office prosecution of Coniglio. The Judge also noted that Krovatin failed to identify any similarly situated individuals in the legislature who could have been but were not prosecuted in our investigation of Coniglio and others. (* See the excerpt below taken from the government’s brief in opposition to Krovatin’s motion, concerning similarity between Coniglio and convicted ex-Sen. Wayne Bryant, but not other legislators.)
2) MOTION: The Court should grant the defendant a new trial – DENIED.
a) On the basis that the jury’s verdict on the counts of conviction was against the weight of the evidence — DENIED .
b) On the basis that the Indictment impermissibly expanded the scope of quid pro quo bribery – DENIED.
c) On the basis that the Court erred in giving the government’s request to charge on “non-disclosure of material information” for purposes of honest services fraud counts – DENIED.
d) On the basis that the jurors were not instructed that they had to be unanimous on the alternative objects of the alleged fraudulent scheme common to Counts 1 through 8 of the Indictment, or on the stream of corrupt payments charged in Count 9 – DENIED.
e) On the basis that the Court should not have submitted the Indictment to the jury during its deliberations – DENIED.
3) Finally, in view of those denials, Judge Cavanaugh logically also quashed Krovatin’s subpoena to the Bergen Record regarding his effort to force the newspaper to turn over audio recordings, etc. of their interview(s) with the former U.S. Attorney.
* From the government’s brief in opposition to Krovatin’s motion:
“It should be obvious — although, reading defendant’s brief, it is not — that to be similarly situated to defendant for “selective prosecution” purposes, the members of the group to which he seeks to compare himself must have committed a crime. That is, of course, what the Supreme Court meant when it referred to others who “could have been prosecuted,” but were not. Armstrong, 517 U.S. at 469.
“In other words, “‘selective prosecution’ implies that a selection has taken place.” Id. at 469 (citation omitted). While it certainly may be true that other New Jersey legislators have had “paid or unpaid affiliations” — whatever that means — to hospitals in the State, having such an “affiliation” is not a federal offense. What does constitute a federal offense is the striking of a bargain in which a legislator agrees to exercise official action on a hospital’s behalf as specific opportunities arise, in exchange for a stream of corrupt payments, and the taking of steps to conceal the nature of this bargain.
“Of the nineteen legislators on defendant’s list, the government is aware of evidence of such conduct regarding exactly one of them: former Senator Wayne Bryant. Just as defendant was, Senator Bryant was indicted, tried and convicted by a jury of his peers. In other words, the only individual known to be similarly-situated to the defendant was treated in exactly the same fashion. The other individuals on the list — the majority of whom are Democrats, it should be noted — have not been prosecuted for the simple reason that there is no evidence in the government’s possession indicating that they have committed a crime.”