One prominent local lawyer keeps insisting that Joe Bruno's case will be dismissed because of the Supreme Court decision in Skilling. He might be right but I'm not so sure.
The attorney talks about how the Supreme Court decision limited the "honest services" law to bribes and kickbacks. He claims that this case did not involve a kickback.
Bruno's case is right on the edge of this, however. In their motion papers, the Government pointed out what was in the jury instructions:
In addition to a conflict of interest, the jury had to find that (1) the conflict of interest was material, (2) Defendant took "discretionary action directly benefitting the individual or organization behind that financial interest," and (3) Defendant "acted with the intent to deprive the public of the intangible right of honest services."
It's clear that Bruno received money from someone (Abbruzzese). If the jury found that he took discretionary action directly benefiting that individual, then that's awfully close to a kickback or bribe.
My favorite quote from the local attorney who supports Bruno is that he says "every legal scholar who has looked at this" says Bruno's case doesn't fit.
Um, exactly which legal scholars have looked at Bruno's case? Did Harvard Law School have a symposium? And how many of these scholars are friends of Bruno?
The Supreme Court decision in Skilling was a completely different case. There was no outside individual giving Skilling money or getting a benefit. The jury instruction mentioned above does seem to fit in the general ballpark of bribery and kickbacks. Joe Bruno may still be going to Club Fed.