Tom DeLay may be able to escape prosecution for money laundering, on the grounds that the Texas money laundering statute does not apply to checks, according to Republican justices in Texas. A panel of judges voted along party lines not to rehear a decision that would exempt checks from the definition of “funds” in the money laundering law. DeLay’s attorneys believe that this will force prosecutors to dismiss charges against DeLay.
An Austin-based appeals court split along party lines in rejecting a call from one of its members for a full-court rehearing of a case involving Tom DeLay’s onetime political associates.
Third Court of Appeals Justice Diane Henson, a Democrat, unsuccessfully asked the six-member court to reconsider a decision, reached last month by a panel of three Republican justices, that DeLay’s attorney believes will eventually throw out the prosecution’s case against the former congressman.
DeLay was not a party to the appeal but faces the same money laundering and conspiracy charges as his associates, John Colyandro and James Ellis. The panel refused to dismiss charges, finding that the state’s ban on corporate contributions is constitutional. But it said that the money laundering statute in place at the time did not apply to checks.
The full court on Friday denied Henson’s request, with the four Republican members voting against a full hearing and Henson and Democrat Jan Patterson dissenting.
The rejection of Henson’s request for a rehearing could make it more likely that Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle will ask the full court to reconsider the ruling. He still could appeal to the state’s highest criminal court, the Court of Criminal Appeals. If the Third Court’s ruling stands, DeGuerin said he will ask the trial judge hearing the DeLay case to dismiss the indictments.
Henson issued a strongly worded dissenting opinion critical of the panel for its two-year delay between oral argument and the issuance of the opinion. She said her colleagues overreached to decide an issue that was not properly before the court.
DeLay was indicted in 2005 and had to give up his leadership position as majority leader because of the indictments. He resigned from Congress in 2006 and is working as a consultant in Washington. Henson said the length of time it took the panel to decide the case shows that the appeal raises complex issues that should be reviewed by the entire court.
“In a case where the panel has been unable to resolve pretrial proceedings in this accelerated case in even a remotely reasonable period of time, effectively tying the hands of the prosecution for several years and delaying the resolution of charges of public corruption that undermine the very core of our political system, the need for en banc (full court) review is evident,” she wrote.
DeLay and his associates are accused of funneling $190,000 in corporate donations illegally to seven Texas House candidates in 2002. Prosecutors allege they conspired to violate the corporate ban by laundering money through national Republican Party accounts.
Dick DeGuerin, DeLay’s attorney, said he believes that the ruling will force prosecutors to eventually dismiss the charges because the indictment alleges the transactions were conducted with checks. The Legislature in 2005 added checks to the definition of “funds” in the money laundering law.
Have those Texas candidates ever returned the money or admitted that they used it for their campaigns, six of them haven’t. Not surprising either, that Delay is a consultant in Washington. I’m sure he is very helpful with finding creative ways to fund Republican campaigns. The Texas Judges must be proud of their contribution to helping “the most corrupt politicians in history”. Their doing a wonderful job at making sure they never see the inside of a prison.
UPDATE: While Teflon Tom DeLay gets off scot-free from justice. Amy Goodman, an AP Photographer, two other members of Democracy Now!, (Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar) several members of LegalWatch, and the New York Post were arrested for Obstruction and a numerous other charges this week. This proves their our different forms of “so-called” justice in our country, Republican Justice and Justice for the commoners.