Manhattan U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia must tread carefully in deciding whether to prosecute Eliot Spitzer, who has been driven from the governor’s mansion by revelations that he hired a prostitute through a high-priced escort service, reports the New York Law Journal. One former prosecutor said, “If you are a prosecutor thinking about this situation you have to ask yourself if it’s fair to bring charges when we don’t normally prosecute johns. You always have to wrestle with the question, ‘Am I prosecuting this person because he or she is a public figure?'”
Mark Zauderer, who has represented clients in cases against then-Attorney General Spitzer, said that based on what has been reported publicly, Spitzer’s “legal situation might not be as drastic” as has been suggested. If charges are brought under the Mann Act or the structuring laws, Zauderer said, Spitzer could assert “very credible defenses,” including that he lacked the intent to evade the reporting requirements needed to support a conviction for structuring. Edward J.M. Little worked in the U.S. Attorney’s public corruption unit for eight years. “My bottom line is I would think they would exercise discretion in not bringing” charges against Spitzer, he said. Unless evidence emerges that government funds were involved, it could be viewed as “overkill” if prosecutors bring charges, Little added. Another ex-prosecutor said, “If you’re talking about money laundering” and tens of thousands of dollars, “that’s going to cut in the direction of pulling the trigger” and charging Spitzer.