Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Sprague And Sprague Connection To Todd Eachus
Sprague and Sprague, represented Robert Powell in the Kids For Cash scheme that is part of the Luzerne County corruption scandal. He was also represented by Mark Sheppard, formerly of Sprague and Sprague according to this article that appeard on Law.com from The Legal Intelligencer. The article dealt with the F.B.I. putting its sights on now former Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Toole.
When asked if Toole had taken a payoff from Powell, one of Powell's attorneys, Mark B. Sheppard, formerly of Sprague & Sprague and now a partner at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, said he could not comment.
Law.com features another story from The Legal Intelligencer dated February 13, 2009. It details a letter signed by Attorney Richard Sprague on behalf of Robert Powell in connection with the ongoing probe.
In a letter signed by Mark B. Sheppard of Sprague & Sprague in Philadelphia, Powell's lawyers said he had been unfairly portrayed in news reports on the corruption probe.
"First, it is grossly inaccurate to suggest that our client ever sought or had any influence in the sentencing of any juvenile offender. In fact, Bob Powell never offered to pay a single penny to these former judges. Instead, Bob Powell was a victim of their demands for payment," the letter says.
The letter goes on to say that, although Powell recognizes he made a mistake by not going to authorities, he remained silent about the judges' demands because they exerted pressure on Powell and his clients.
"The record will show that despite this, Powell not only refused the Judges' continued demands for additional payments, but ultimately reported the conduct to authorities," the letter says.
The letter, also signed by Richard A. Sprague and Geoffrey R. Johnson, says Powell is continuing to cooperate with authorities and is integral to the U.S. Attorney's prosecution of Ciavarella and Conahan.
What does all of this information have to do with Todd Eachus?
On February 3, 2010 Jennifer Lin of the Philadelphia Inquirer penned this article about lawyer Richard Sprague's testimony before two dozen legislators who grilled him, wanting to know just what his group - the Pennsylvania Casino Association - was up to.
The casino group sent big names into yesterday's hearing: Sprague, whose career as a prosecutor and defense lawyer dates to the 1950s, and PCA's adviser, Stephen A. Zappala - a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court.
During the joint hearing of the House Gaming Oversight Committee and the Senate Committee on Community, Economic and Recreational Development, Sprague conceded that last fall, in the heat of the debate over changing the state's gaming law to allow poker and other table games, his trade group sent three e-mails to all legislators in an effort to budge them on two points of contention: proposed tax rates for table games, and adding more licenses for so-called resort casinos.
He said that was lobbying - but not to a degree that would trip the 2007 law's rules for registering publicly.
The casino association also has drawn particular attention from lawmakers because of its staff. Sprague said he initially brought in Zappala, the former chief justice, as "chair of the association," while Michele Zappala Peck, his daughter, is its director of operations.
In addition, Lisa DeNaples, a principal and financial backer of the Mount Airy casino, is a director of PCA.
Sprague said Zappala brought stature to PCA. "The fact I have Chief Justice Zappala with me is what gives me a voice," he said.
Zappala said he did not lobby lawmakers.
Sprague said his own outreach to legislators was limited to personal visits in 2008 with eight senators and representatives, including House Majority Leader Todd Eachus (D., Luzerne) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware).
"When I went to each of them," Sprague said, "my opening statement was 'I am here, and I don't want you to do a thing for me. . . . I'm here to introduce myself.' "
The purpose of his calls? To see "who does what and who's on which side.".
Treasury Secretary Jack McCord's website has a feature where the public can search state contracts called e-Contracts. There is a very interesting piece of information concerning Mr. Sprague's firm and Mr. Eachus.
On November 03, 2008 the House Democratic Caucus awarded Contract Number HDC01111008 not to exceed $100,000.00 in billing to Sprague and Sprague. There is no end date on the contract. The House Democratic Caucus will inform Sprague and Sprague when it no longer desires it services according to page 3 of the document.
Was it convenient that Attorney Sprague didn't mention this fact during his testimony or was it unknown to all those present that Mr. Eachus as well as all of the House Democratic Members of the House Gaming Oversight Committee were being or had been represented by Attorney Sprague's firm? I seriously doubt the second part is plausable.
The question that the media should be asking is whether the engagement of the Sprague firm by the House Democratic Caucus is any way connected to the Robert Powell investigation and are the taxpayers of the Commonwealth paying for Mr. Eachus's possible defense in Bonusgate or any other matter?
Maybe Mr. Eachus should explain to the public which side he is on?
The ending to the story concerning Attorney Sprague and the Pennsylvania Casino Association? Pennsylvania Casino Association Registers with State