In Baltimore, The White-Collar Crime That Wasn’t


Homicides usually produce clear-cut evidence of a crime – dead bodies. Experts say public corruption cases often start out with investigators trying to determine if any criminal act has been committed, says the Baltimore Sun. That’s why it was neither unusual nor unexpected to see Maryland U.S. Attorney Allen F. Loucks close the books on a corruption investigation into the Baltimore City Council without producing a single indictment. “In any white-collar crime, it’s very hard,” said Byron L. Warnken, a professor of criminal law at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “Even the ones where billions of dollars have been taken – the WorldComs, the Enrons – that doesn’t make it easier to put together. And that’s if there is any crime at all.”

For the officials being investigated, it can be an excruciating process, a point made repeatedly by council members, business executives, and their attorneys who were subpoenaed for thousands of documents since fall 2003. Some of those involved in the 18-month City Council investigation remained highly critical of the U.S. attorney’s office. “When they dug into this, they didn’t need to dig a mine shaft,” said David Irwin, a former federal prosecutor who represented several businesses subpoenaed. “The first couple of shovels of information should have showed that there was nothing here.”


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