The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a public corruption law used by Maryland federal prosecutors in high-profile cases, including those against Edward T. Norris, the former Baltimore police commissioner and Stephen P. Amos, the former executive director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention, says the Baltimore Sun.
The law lets prosecutors pursue virtually any local corruption investigation if it is linked to a government agency that received at least $10,000 in federal funds. Prosecutors do not have to prove a connection between the corruption and federal dollars.
Norris pleaded guilty in March to misusing money that came from a little-known police expense account. He faces a prison term of up to a year when he is sentenced next month.
Amos is awaiting trial on charges that he misused millions of dollars in crime-fighting grants, in part to pay for staff for then-Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Critics called the law used in these cases unconstitutional, saying it allowed federal authorities to delve into cases that should be the realm of state and local prosecutors. In a unanimous decision yesterday, the high court supported the law – sometimes referred to as its criminal code number “666” — saying it helped protect federal money.