From the introduction to Corporate Drug Trafficking Liability—-a New Legal Front in the Opioid Crisis (LSB 10207, June 6, 2019):
In April 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) opened a new front in the struggle against the illicit distribution of prescription opioids by indicting Rochester Drug Cooperative, Inc. (Rochester Drug) and two of its executives under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) based on the company’s sale of oxycodone and fentanyl to pharmacies that illegally distributed the drugs.
Although pharmaceutical companies and their executives have previously been subject to civil sanctions and criminal prosecution related to the marketing and distribution of opioids, the Rochester Drug indictments mark the first time DOJ has brought felony charges against a pharmaceutical company under the general drug trafficking provisions of the CSA. This Sidebar contextualizes the indictments by first providing an overview of the key laws governing prescription opioids, the CSA and the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).
On May 23, 2019, the DOJ filed a superseding indictment against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. The 18 count indictment charges 17 violations of the Espionage Act, 18 U.S.C. §793, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. Read the indictment here.
On May 16, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia unsealed sentencing documents for Michael Flynn. Included in those documents were descriptions of how Flynn assisted prosecutors, including both the cases he had been involved with, and the way in which his cooperation had assisted the investigation.
From the Daily Kos: “The documents show that Flynn’s cooperation was vital in three different cases: the criminal investigation into how Flynn’s former business partner acted as an unregistered agent for Turkey; the special counsel investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia; and a third case, the description of which remains redacted. Some speculation has suggested that the third case may be related to the ongoing trial of Roger Stone, or other potential cases related to WikiLeaks. Others have suggested that it might represent Flynn’s knowledge of some financial matter related to the Trump Organization … which mostly shows just how little is known about the multiple cases still pending in various jurisdictions following the Mueller investigation.”
Hat tip to beSpacific for this litigation update. Read the memorandum opinion in Blumenthal v. Trump, DCDC 1:17-cv-01154-EGS.
Attorney General William Barr issued an order Tuesday limiting immigration judges’ power to release asylum seekers from detention on bond, marking another step in the Trump administration’s efforts to keep migrants from coming to the United States. Under the ruling, certain immigrants cannot be released on bond and instead must remain in detention unless the Department of Homeland Security chooses to release them. Read the ruling, Matter of M-S-, Respondent, 27 I&N Dec. 509 (A.G., Apr. 16, 2019, here.
The US Justice Department announced Thursday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted on conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to commit computer intrusion in 2010. Read the indictment.
A federal judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction on Monday afternoon blocking the Trump administration from forcing asylum seekers to wait in Mexico until their cases have been finalized starting this weekend. Read the order granting motion for preliminary injunction.
From the press release: “[T]he Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a request in the federal district court for the District of Columbia for an order that would authorize the public release of grand jury material that is “cited, quoted, or referenced” in the report submitted to Attorney General William Barr by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.” Read the application here.
Prosecutors with U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York publicly released hundreds of pages of search warrant applications and supporting material Tuesday related to the search of Michael Cohen’s work spaces and home in April 2018. The documents show that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office was investigating Cohen only a few months after President Donald Trump was sworn in to office. The special counsel’s look at Cohen’s emails began in July 2017, and revealed information that appears to have been later shared with Manhattan prosecutors. Read the documents here.
From the New York Times: “Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman, has been charged in New York with mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other state felonies, the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said Wednesday, an effort to ensure he will still face prison time if Mr. Trump pardons him for his federal crimes.”
Here’s the text of the Manhattan District Attorney Indictment of Paul Manafort
President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced in a Washington, DC, courtroom today, less than a week after he was sentenced in Virginia to 47 months in prison for financial fraud convictions.
Manafort was sentenced on two charges — conspiracy against the US and conspiracy to obstruct justice for attempting to tamper with witnesses. Judge Amy Berman Jackson could have given Manafort a maximum of 10 years but decided to hand down a seven year sentence with credit for times served and with 30 months of the sentence running concurrently. Accordingly today’s sentencing adds 43 months in prison, on top of his sentence he received last week from the court in Virginia for a total of 90 months. That sentence can be reduced for time off for good behavior.
The New York Times compiled the list here.
Facing up to 24 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines for the bank and tax fraud he was convicted of in Virginia, Paul Manafort was sentenced to just under four years. Manafort has already spent nine months in jail — meaning the sentence imposed Thursday could end in less than three years, with an additional reduction for good behavior.
Here’s some reaction to the sentencing from the Washington Post:
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s emergency powers declaration to secure funds to build a wall along the southern border. Read the complaint here.
Sixteen states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Virginia and Michigan) have filed suit against President Trump over his declaration of national emergency. The complaint is available here.
The New York Times reported on Monday that Cliff Sims, author of “Team of Vipers,” is “suing the president in his official capacity, alleging that he used his campaign organization as a ‘cutout’ to improperly seek retribution against former employees and keep them from invoking their First Amendment rights.” Sims’ lawsuit comes after the Trump campaign filed an arbitration claim against the White House aide turned author. The campaign is claiming that Sims violated a non-disclosure agreement, but Sims is reportedly not entirely sure he signed an NDA at all. Read the complaint here.
Law.com is reporting that seven retired federal judges, including former Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner, filed an amicus brief in a class action over PACER fees now on appeal. The brief argues that PACER fees harm the judiciary’s credibility and pro se litigants.
Roger Jason Stone, Jr. was arrested in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 25, 2019, following an indictment by a federal grand jury on Jan. 24, 2019, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains seven counts: one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. Read the Stone indictment here.
A federal judge in New York has ruled against the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman ordered the administration to stop its plans to include the controversial question on forms for the upcoming national head count “without curing the legal defects” the judge identified in his opinion released on Tuesday. Read the opinion here.