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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Measuring Barry Bonds: Justice Plays Small Ball

Looking for love in the wrong place can really have bad consequences if you are rich and famous. 

The long-dreaded awaited federal circus show trial perjury trial of baseball steroid home run king Barry Bonds has now brought official testimony from Bonds' attention-starved, vengeful and scorned ex-girlfriend about bedroom matters better left described in less reputable publications.

A professional investigation and prosecution would have ensured that Typhoid Mary Kimberly Bell (whom self-respecting men should avoid) never would have shared her "story" with numerous press outlets prior to becoming a valued government witness. In fact, from a legal perspective this is risky, as such public statements allow for the defense plenty of material (and preparation time) to destroy her credibility on cross-examination by highlighting all her lies inconsistencies on the stand.  Instead, the government allowed Bell to become a witness. 

There is an unwanted consequence.  By using Bell, the government has encouraged other prospective witnesses in countless other cases to sell their story to the highest bidder press, invent their story to avoid an accusation of perjury make it sound genuine and credible, and after cashing in on publicity, still use their story as a snitch rat fink government witness for promises of avoiding federal prison purposes which are rarely honorable.  (See my earlier article speculating on why Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein agreed to testify in the ongoing criminal trial of Raj Rajaratnam for insider trading.)

The Bonds case -- and many other cases in which salacious but irrelevant information is conveniently "leaked" to friendly dupes in the press reporters who want a job in government -- shows that the Justice Department is willing to use embarrassment and other tools of personal destruction to go after high-profile targets whose stature allows government employees the opportunity for career advancement and personal financial gain. 

Such tactics do not replace the lack of hard criminality, nor do they adequately explain the use of scarce prosecutorial resources at a time when mortgage fraud, bank fraud and other financial crimes have both skyrocketed and become easier to detect, and when many other hard crimes go unprosecuted.  

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer who handles investigations, business due diligence and other legal matters of a sensitive nature.  Mr. Dixon also handles strategic analysis and political consulting for businesses, political candidates and other organizations.  Mr. Dixon can be reached for further comment or consultation at 917-696-2442 and edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com.
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