A tale of two federal plea deals

In some situations, it’s best for a defendant accused of breaking federal law to have their attorney negotiate a plea agreement with prosecutors. By doing so, the defendant will often admit guilt in exchange for having some federal charges withdrawn or for having prosecutors agree to recommend to the court a reduced sentence, or both.

According to a recent newspaper article, a Georgia woman recently entered into a plea agreement in which prosecutors are recommending six months of house arrest in exchange for an admission that she bribed a Mississippi school superintendent.

The woman owned a reading program based in Conyers, Georgia; the company was doing business with a Mississippi Delta school district.

However, the woman was indicted toward the end of 2012 on 10 counts involving bribery of the Greenville school district’s superintendent. She was accused of funneling about $270,000 to the superintendent in exchange for his influence in getting the district to award her company a $1.4 million contract.

The superintendent was also charged in the case. He faces a sentence of from 70 to 87 months in the case, according to federal sentencing guidelines. His attorney says he entered into a plea agreement in which he would get a recommendation of a reduced sentence from prosecutors in exchange for his testimony against the Georgia woman.

But after she agreed to plead guilty, prosecutors apparently withdrew their offer to the superintendent.

However, a prosecutor said in a court filing that the man had assured the Georgia woman that he would testify that the amounts she gave him were, in fact, loans and not bribes. That testimony that would have made it difficult to effectively prosecute her, the Assistant U.S. Attorney stated.

If the superintendent had “simply admitted the facts to which he had already pled guilty under oath, the government would have proceeded to trial” against the Georgia woman, the prosecutor stated in documents.

Instead, she entered a guilty plea the same day her trial was slated to begin.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help a defendant admit to making a mistake, and in some situations, help the defendant receive a reduced sentence commensurate with the crime.

Source: Athens Banner-Herald, “House arrest recommended for Georgia woman in bribery case,” Nov. 8, 2013