Bradley partner Jason Mehta was quoted in The Daily Beast discussing allegations surrounding U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. After a case was filed in federal court against Fortenberry surrounding acquisitions of illicit campaign contributions from a Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire, Fortenberry’s legal team moved to disqualify the assistant U.S. attorney in charge of the prosecution after finding tapes. Fortenberry’s legal team argued the assistant U.S. attorney’s involvement in the lead-up investigation made him a witness and could unfairly influence the jury.
In addition, the defense, in their filing, noted it had warned prosecutors they would move to disqualify AUSA Mack Jenkins “months before indictment.”
Mehta said that, while such requests are “not unprecedented,” they are only granted in “the most unusual” instances.
“The federal criminal justice system envisions an active role for law enforcement agents and prosecutors. And, in the presence of law enforcement agents, federal prosecutors are often involved with questioning of witnesses or defendants,” Mehta explained. “Seeking the recusal of a prosecutor for his or her involvement in a case is not unprecedented, although it is a rarely granted motion except in the most unusual of circumstances.”
Mehta added that even if the move is unlikely to succeed, defense teams sometimes take the risk because it is “a powerful threat.” Federal prosecutions, he observed, are often “very individual-specific,” and can hang on the actions of agents and prosecutors in the investigation.
The original article, “Indicted GOP Congressman Says the Feds Got Him on Tape—Twice,” appeared in The Daily Beast on December 3, 2021.