This Is How They Do It
Updated: Aug 6, 2018
By Donald V. Watkins ©Copyrighted and Published on August 4, 2018
Last Sunday, I published an article titled, “A ‘Pizza Man’ is Leading the Charge”. On Tuesday, I published a follow-up article on the “Growing Problem of Prosecutorial Misconduct”. Both articles described the degree to which rogue prosecutors have abused the federal grand jury and trial system. As documented in a special series of investigative reports in USA Today, this prosecutorial abuse is rampant, growing, and has been going on for decades.
President Donald Trump complains about this problem every day. Yet, he has been impotent in his power to stop it. Last week, Trump publicly begged U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop it. His presidential plea fell on deaf ears.
Congress has issued a number of well-documented reports about rogue prosecutors and their chronic abuse of the criminal justice system. Former U.S. Attorneys General like Richard Thornburgh and Janet Reno acknowledged the problem and tried to stop rogue federal prosecutors from using grand juries and trials to implement their narrow-minded political and personal retribution.
Reputable versus Rogue Prosecutors
Every federal grand jury investigation begins with a prosecutor’s request to a judge to empanel a grand jury. Sixteen to twenty-three individuals serve as grand jurors.
From the time grand jurors are empaneled, prosecutors shape the narrative and decide what testimony and evidence will be presented to the grand jury. This is when, where, and how rogue prosecutors “fix” cases in a criminal justice system that President Trump has proclaimed as “rigged”. Trump knows this subject better than most because his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, was a former prosecutor and highly respected federal appeals court judge.
Reputable prosecutors present all pertinent evidence to grand jurors, whether favorable or unfavorable. Rogue prosecutors will only present evidence that paints the “targets” of the investigation in the most unfavorable light possible. Grand jurors rarely demand all evidence in the prosecutor’s possession on a potential charge, whether favorable or unfavorable.
Reputable prosecutors willingly present exculpatory evidence that favors the “targets” of the investigation. Rogue prosecutors are notorious for withholding exculpatory evidence from grand jurors. I witnessed the withholding of exculpatory evidence first-hand in my case. For example, prosecutors never disclosed to grand jurors that I worked for my companies and their stakeholders full-time for 12 years without taking any of the salary they authorized for my CEO position. Likewise, prosecutors never disclosed that my direct investment in these companies exceeded the aggregate investment of all other stakeholders combined. Furthermore, prosecutors never told grand jurors that every financial transaction they characterized as “fraudulent” was specifically authorized in binding corporate governance documents (that were written 8 years before I became CEO), all of which these stakeholders agreed in writing to honor.
Instead, the rogue prosecutors in my case painted me as a "crook" who invested no money in my companies and who used stakeholder money for personal expenses. They knew this portrayal was false and misleading, but did not care.
Reputable prosecutors open a criminal investigation based upon credible evidence that there is probable cause a crime has been committed. Rogue prosecutors target their personal or political enemies and search for ways to manufacture a crime from bits and pieces of information about the targeted individual.
Because of the enormous amount of time prosecutors spend in the presence of grand jurors in a tightly controlled environment, grand jurors typically give all prosecutors “presumed” credibility and generally follow their lead. Grand jurors almost never question a prosecutor’s personal background or personal and political animus. In my case, this allowed a lead prosecutor with extremist views toward women and minorities to hijack the grand jury process. A couple of members of the multi-agency law enforcement team working on my case share this prosecutor’s extremist views on women and minorities.
The most frequently used tool for controlling the narrative prosecutors present to a grand jury is the use of pre-grand jury interviews. Prosecutors prefer this tool because they do not want to be surprised by what an un-coached witness might say in front of a grand jury that they have worked for many months to rubber stamp their prosecutorial recommendations.
The pre-grand jury interviews typically occur in the presence of one or more prosecutors and several law enforcement agents. This show of force is designed to overwhelm and intimidate potential witnesses. The pre-interview is never transcribed on a verbatim Q&A basis. Instead, the witness’ interview statements are captured in the form of notes taken by one of the agents present. These notes are not shown to the witness to check the accuracy of what is written by the agent. If the witness deviates in the grand jury room from the summary of testimony captured in the agent’s notes, the witness is then exposed to a felony charge of lying to a federal agent. This potential jeopardy makes the witness more than eager to please prosecutors by giving coached and enhanced testimony to the grand jury. This occurrence has happened in my case on multiple occasions.
The pre-grand jury interviews give reputable prosecutors an opportunity to discover any exculpatory information the witness may have and present this information to the grand jury. Rogue prosecutors tend to avoid unscripted questions and answers in front of the grand jury that may lead to the disclosure of exculpatory testimony and evidence. They are primarily interested in the persecution and abuse of targeted individuals, not a search for the truth and the fair administration of justice.
Reputable prosecutors tend to stay within the scope of the matters presented in the original investigation. Rogue prosecutors roam the landscape like marauders looking for any legal theory they can use to justify their continued pursuit of the “targets” and the fabrication of unwarranted criminal charges. In my case, after their “securities fraud” case collapsed, prosecutors tried to build a criminal case around a flimsy “bank fraud” theory that flies in the face of permissible transactions under recognized exceptions to applicable banking regulations. Even the tainted FDIC, which has been collaborating with the rogue prosecutors in my case, has been unable to succeed with its factually weak and baseless administrative charge on this subject.
Reputable prosecutors use the grand jury subpoena power in good faith to develop testimony and secure relevant documents on the matters under investigation. Rogue prosecutors use the grand jury subpoena powers to maliciously carpet-bomb the “targets” of their investigation, as well as all of their known business associates, friends, and family members.
Reputable prosecutors never engage in forum shopping for a so-called “friendly” trial judge. Rogue prosecutors engage in forum shopping as a course of conduct.
Reputable prosecutors never cheat to win. Rogue prosecutors cannot win an indictment or trial without cheating.
Reputable prosecutors bring integrity to the criminal justice system. Rogue prosecutors bring dishonor to the Justice Department and their profession with their lawlessness and self-serving pettiness. They exhibit a character flaw that makes them a clear and present danger to society. They also represent a new wave of COINTELPRO-era government agents.
Stopping Rogue Prosecutors
Sunshine is always the best disinfectant for ridding our society of rogue prosecutors like the ones in my case. This is why I shine the bright light of the free press on their misconduct.
Prosecutors who cheat to win generally do not have the litigation skills and courtroom experience needed to prevail in a criminal case at trial. I have encountered and defeated prosecutors like the ones in my case on countless occasions during my career.
Sooner or later, these prosecutors must enter the gladiator arena where litigation skills, trial experience, defense strategies, and exculpatory evidence matter. This is where, when, and how the rogue prosecutors in my case will be stopped.
PHOTO: First Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama Lloyd C. Peeples is the lead prosecutor in my case. He was running a Homewood, Alabama pizza parlor in 2017, when U.S. Attorney Jay Town hired him for the job. Peeples is the author of published feature articles in a right-wing news magazine that reflect an extremist view on women and minorities.