Monday, March 7, 2011

BingoGate: Decision expected this week on wiretap admissibility

Last week, US Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel held a three-day hearing, consisting of oral arguments and testimony by FBI Agents, regarding the defendants’ motion to suppress the wiretap evidence in USA vs. McGregor et al.

The defendants seek to have the wiretaps thrown out, arguing that the government overstepped its authority and violated the defendants privacy and constitutional rights. It is a moment of peril for the government, since the wiretaps are critical evidence in the case. Without that evidence, the Department of Justice’s case falls apart.

Capel gave all parties until today to submit any additional briefs on the matter, and his decision could come at any time. With the trial date June 6 now only three months away, a swift decision is likely and legal analysts expect it this week at the earliest, next week at the latest.

This gives time for the losing side to appeal Capel’s decision, with appeal arguments submitted and an appeal hearing scheduled before US District Judge Myron Thompson.

For those who are convinced that the nearly 13,000 recorded conversations also include evidence incriminating Auburn University officials, boosters or even coaching staff in the ever-expanding NCAA probe into improper benefits and recruiting violations, Capel’s decision is critical. There has been considerable speculation that one or more “smoking guns” exist among the voluminous number of recordings, since so many of the individuals involved are also Auburn boosters and graduates.

Suppressing the wiretaps means that none of those recordings are ever heard in public, nor will their transcripts ever see the light of day.

Exit Question: What happens to the tapes, then?

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