Broward Probe: 302 Reasons Not To Talk To The FBI

BY SAM FIELDS
Guest Columnist

Actually, there are not 302 reasons.  There is but one and it is called in federal court “The 302.   It could screw the innocent and the unwary.

 
The newspapers and Browardbeat.com make clear that the Federal investigations that led to the arrests of County Commissioner Josephus Eggleston, former Miramar Commissioner Fitzroy Salesman and School Board member Bev Gallagher are just beginning. 

The FBI will be interviewing everyone from County Administrator Bertha Henry to bus drivers about anything and everything.
 
They are looking for scalps.
 
I suspect that if the average person thought about it, he would assume that when the FBI comes calling, like Joe Friday from DRAGNET, they “want the facts and nothing but the facts.  Equally important they want an accurate record of that interview so they bring a court reporter or at the very least a tape recorder.
 
The average person would be wrong.

Agents bring a pencil and pad to take notes.  They then prepare a summary of the interview called a “302 Report. 

If you are called as a witness at trial, prior to testifying, you will be given a copy of “Your 302 to review.  It is a record of what the FBI insists you said at your previous meeting.
 
If your interview lasted more than thirty seconds, it is guaranteed you will find numerous discrepancies.  Some of them will be insignificant; some of them could be material. 
 
 Ask two people to listen to you in a discussion about a traffic accident and then write a summary.  It is a guaranteed they will have differences with each other as well as with you, the witness.
 
You said, “I am reasonably sure that the traffic light was green.  

One report takes out the equivocation and quotes you as saying: “The light was green.
 
This brings us to Federal law 18 USC 1001.  That statute makes it a felony to lie to the government.  And guess who decides whether or not you were lying?  The government. 
 
So here is your conundrum.  Do you testify about your doubts about the light, which is the truth, or do you adopt the “302 version to avoid the wrath of the FBI? 
 
Whether or not the “302 discrepancies are a result of stupidity or cupidity makes no difference.  Testify in opposition to the “302 and you are in the crosshairs of the Feds.
 
If they believe your testimony cost them the case, the next thing you likely to hear from the FBI will be: “Please place your hands behind your back.
 
A number of years ago, fed up with the 302 Two Step, I turned the tables on them.
 
In a high profile case, my client was asked to submit to an FBI interview at their offices in North Miami Beach. 

Feigning naivety, I asked where the court reporter was.  I was told there was no court reporter. 

 I then asked where the tape recorder was. 
 
I will always be impressed that the agent was able to give us the response he did without laughing.  He said the FBI could not tape the interview because they did not have “enough money in their budget.
 
It was time to play the Trump Card.
 
At that point, I removed a cassette recorder from my pocket and explained that my client had been able to scrape together the 59 cents for a cassette tape. Further we would pay for the tape to be transcribed and supply them with a free copy of everything.
 
You could’ve heard a fart in a vacuum.
 
They now made it clear that no way, no how would any FBI interview be recorded.  So we went forward with the interview as the agent took notes.
 
Months later the client was called to testify at trial.

I warned him the “302 would be a work of fiction. It was.  I was sitting in the back of the courtroom.
 
Called to the stand, he told the “real truth and not the “302 version of the truth.  The Assistant U.S. Attorney was frustrated and kept on confronting him with the “302 version.
 
Fed up with the prosecutor and in the presence of the jury, the witness preceded to recount my debate over recording from the first interview.  Pointing to me in the back of the courtroom, the witness announced that I had warned him that they would pull this crap with the “302 report.
 
It didn’t take the jury very long to acquit. 
 
With the advent of DNA and groups like the Innocence Project, we have now seen that so-called unrecorded confessions have put many innocent people in jail and even on Death Row.  As a result, agencies such as the BSO, now require all interviews to be taped. 
 
But not the FBI.

Like anyone, including lawyers, the FBI wants to control the record of the interview.  Taping hurts that effort.
 
I’m not saying that it is FBI policy to step over the line. But they have chalk on their shoes more often than you can imagine.
 

So, what’s should you do if the FBI comes calling?
 
First of all, the advice I am about to give is not for the a guy who was an inadvertent witness to a bank robbery. 

I am talking about people who are being interviewed as part of the types of crimes that are best described as corruption, RICO, white collar, etc.

Those are the kinds of cases that involve tons of evidence.  Giving an innocent, but incorrect answer to a vague question could leave any of us in deep CaCa.
 
A case in point is the lead story in the September 26, 2009 Herald. Chris Walton, director of the Broward County Transportation Department, was interviewed by two FBI agents.  
 
He stated that they wanted to know if “commissioners attempted to influence contracts. 
 
 “I told them no.
 
It may sound like a simple straight forward Q-and-A but it ain’t necessarily so.  He may think his interview and public statement ends the matter. 

In actuality, he has thrown down the gauntlet in front of the FBI.  
 
Start out with the understanding that the FBI is not investigating to see if there is crime and corruption in Broward County government.  They already believe there is. They are only trying to uncover evidence to confirm their beliefs.
 
Walton’s blanket defense of the Commission has made the Feds conclude he is a fool or co-conspirator.

The FBI just needs the evidence and not much of it.  To quote the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan:  “any prosecutor worth his salt could indict a ham sandwich.”
 
This means all evidence, regardless of its ambiguous nature, will be interpreted to support their assumption of wrongdoing.
 
They will be using software to go through millions of E-mail messages to look for key words.  As Buddy has quoted me:  “The  ‘E’ in E-mail stands for evidence.
 
So imagine the following scenario. 

Six months from now they uncover an E-mail from the County Manager to Walton stating that Commissioner X wants to know if the bid of company Y for new busses was correctly filled out.  He replies that it was.
 
Months later he has totally forgotten about the innocuous E-mail. Based on the merits, he happens to rank Y’s bid number one.
 
You can bet as sure as J. Edgar Hoover wore pink poodle skirts, the FBI will conclude this was code from Commissioner X to Walton to vote for Y. 
 
Armed with the E-mail you can be damn sure that the G-Men will be back threatening him with everything including a stint in Gitmo.
 
 All of this might have been avoided if he had followed my three basic rules.
 
  Memorize them. 
 
 1. Do not talk to the FBI without a lawyer.
 
 2. Do not talk to the FBI without a lawyer.
 
 3. Do not talk to the FBI without a lawyer.



32 Responses to “Broward Probe: 302 Reasons Not To Talk To The FBI”

  1. Robert Lewis says:

    How dare you tell anyone not to fully cooporate with those who would investigate corruption. You are the typical lawyer — win at all costs and justice be damned.

  2. Why Leaders Fail says:

    We continue to witness the fall of leaders in our society, not just religious and political leaders but also leaders in business and sports. One day they are our heroes and the next they are scorned.

    If you ask them, almost all would say that such an end could never happen to them. That very miscalculation is all the evidence we should need that while leaders are merely human just like you and me.

    They may be extraordinary humans. But human beings nonetheless and therefore subject to weakness.

    Why do they fail?

    Most leaders are naturally driven and motivated to achieve results. Over time however they begin to lose sight of what’s important. They get caught up in other priorities and lack the skill to self-diagnose that they are slipping or to do what it takes to realign their focus back onto what is truly important.

    Vanity, ego, power: these are very seductive drugs. And like becoming addicted, a leader losing his focus is like a junkie losing their soul.

    No leader can afford to lose their proper focus and hope to serve others well. Or, in the end, hope to get away from it because the followers pick up on those signals and they act on them.

    Leaders often start listening to people that don’t share their focus. Those people want to use them, to yoke their power and bend it to serve their will and not those of followers.

    They have no stake in the leader’s success but only in their own self interest.

    Such people are masters at manipulating leaders, and they do so until the leader loses their own voice, until they forget why they aspired to leadership in the first place.

    To be a good leader, you must have a wide circle of contacts but few friends. None of them can be people that stand to gain from anything that the leader could possibly provide. Some measure of loneliness is the price of being a quality leader.

    Leadership is draining and exhausting. But it is a vocation, and because of that the leader must overcome being tired and refresh themselves constantly to the mission.

    At the point that a leader no longer has the will to lead, but only wants the rewards of leadership, it’s time for them to go. Nothing is more wasteful than an unmotivated leader.

    True leadership is never about what happens to the leader and is always about what happens to the followers.

    At the point that a leader shows that they care more about themselves than about those they are chosen to lead, it’s time for them to go. That is the time for those that follow to choose other leaders.

  3. Mister Courthouse says:

    I hate to admit it, but Fields gives a great lesson here. Listen to him.

  4. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Robert Lewis
    I want to apologize for pointing out to people that they have rights under the 5th and 6th Amendments to our Constitution.

  5. vince mcmahon says:

    sam fields is the biggest, most lying bull shipper around. just a classless guy who believes in nothing but his arrogance. i’ve seen him lie in court many times, could care less about the laws of our land, and it sickens me to read his faux concerns about 302. just a POS fraud

  6. vince mcmahon says:

    and let me add, sam fields is a coward, liar, fake jew who plays his jewish birth in front of jewish judges but then tells us all how there is no GOD.sammy you are a creep who knows no shame, just a complete bull shipper slinging nonsense and was rewarded w/ a 3rd place finish for judge. so appropriate, but shut your mouth until you get honest b/c you are a lying con man.

  7. Resident says:

    But beyond that you think Sam Fields is a great guy. Don’t hold it in, just let it out. You can tell us.

  8. J. Edger says:

    Mr. Fields is very brave. The FBI had people followed, taxes examined and people questioned for far less than what Mr. Fields is writing.

  9. vince mcmahon says:

    my experience w/ sammy shows he is not brave nor honest.just a typical liar oops lawyer who could care less about the laws he swore an oath to honor. thats just my experience, maybe he had a bad day, but he still is a pontifical, lying, arrogant wusskit who anyone should avoid if looking for the truth.thats just sammy!!!

  10. vince mcmahon says:

    little sammy , who likes to tell us about the 5th/6th ammendents will look a judge in the eye, obviously not swearing an oath to GOD to tell the truth, nothing but the truth and just wink, lie, and laugh after he hosed someone is a fraud. this creep is allowed his time to talk, but is too much of a wooskit to allow the same and will lie, cheat and show his hypocrisy to get his pay.sammy is the last one to tell us the laws of OUR LAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Ok says:

    Good read. My brother who use to be a public defender, now a judge always said. “You have a case against my client? PROVE IT” I think Sam is just stating that like in many positions in government, success gets you up the ladder. Case in point..Janet Reno made a career locking up innocent people regardless of the evidence…all the way to the top!

  12. Redo says:

    Sam is right, but does he have to tell potential criminals at the School Board and among the School Board and county staff not to talk to the FBI. The rest of us want the crooks locked up!

  13. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Vince McMahon
    Is there no end to hypocrisy and absurdity.

    Someone how claims to speak the truth adopts the screen name of a person who puts on fake fights. That should tell you something.

    If you are a lawyer and you believe you have seen me lie to the court you have an obligation to report me to the Bar. I dare you to do it.

    Finally, no one has ever called me these kinds of things to my face including you and you apparently watch me with great intent.

    I have every reason to believe you are among the many who I am very friendly with. Yet at the same time you secretly this incredible ill will.

    How do I best describe you. Well the best description come from
    The OJAY’s:

    They smile in your face
    All the time they want to take your place
    THE BACKSTABBERS

    P>S> I came in second in the race for the bench with 49+% of the vote

  14. Beth The Bounty Hunder says:

    There has to be some reason that they don’t make takes or videos, because that is the real story.

  15. Bus Driver says:

    The Feds remember Chris Walton from the Detroit corruption scandal about 10 years ago. In this case they came to him first out of dozens of people they claim ti want to interview. They must have something big and juicy they’re waiting to sink their teeth in. Walton actions prove he clearly thinks he is above the law. The Feds know it too. The trap is set.

  16. Signal 9 says:

    The only problem with Chris Walton is he’s GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY! Maybe this time the Feds will get him. I hope they come and talk to a lot of bus drivers, and others at Mass Transit. I hope they get some of his cronies, “do-boys” lackeys, and co-conspirators. Good luck G-men!!!!

  17. vince mcmahon says:

    no sammy, i’m not a lawyer, not a backstabber.just a guy you went before a jewish judge, winked w/ 2 jewish attys to get your version of winning while my kids lives, future, financial safety net etc was at risk.and sammy, you did lie. oh, by the way, you had the legal system put on hold, costing taxpayers their money for a continuance b/c you wanted to be a judge.thats right sammy, the same system, county, state country that is broke.the ojays sang great, but im not a backstabber, i spoke to you many times, but you are a lying lawyer [double entremble]and believe me if i thoght the gutless, w/o out cajones do nothing BAR would hold you or any atty , judge etc accountable, i would do it in a new york second.but , if you would be the honest wanna be journalist you would talk about that. but you wont, you’ll keep bull shipping, lying, winking, and hurting familys if you get paid to not tell the truth, oh thats right, instead of SEEKING THE TRUTH.somewhere like most attys, you either missed that class or forgot it on the way to the bank.

  18. vince mcmahon says:

    sammy, wanna tussle , have a cup of joe, or finally tell the truth and stop your arrogant horse droppings?? or apologize to the taxpayers for telling judges you needed a continuence b/c you were running for judge.by the way, if you did get 49%, strap it on and go for it again, good luck, but tell the truth, not your arrogant lying wink, nod could care less of lives BS.i had to deal w/ you sammy,you dont tell the truth.

  19. Sam Fields says:

    Dear Vince
    I don’t have the slightest idea what you are talking about and as long as you refuse to identify the case or yourself I will come to believe that this is a gag and you have put one over on Buddy for continuing to allow this to be printed.

    What do you think I would do to you? I am 64 and, even if I could, I promise not to beat you up.

    Let me correct a notion. Lawyers are not there to seek the truth. For most of a millennium we have had an advocacy system where, within the rules, lawyers are to promote their client’s interest.

    If we only cared about the truth we would wipe out the 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendments which put a limit on government “truth seeking”. That is known as “justice”.

    The fact of the matter is that often “truth” and “justice” clash when the government acts illegally.

    If I caused some case to be tossed because I discovered government misconduct then I did my job and I am proud of it.

  20. Sam Fields says:

    WINCE,
    I AM GLAD TO SEE YOU ARE NOT A LAWYER BECAUSE IT IS APPARENT YOU ARE WILLING TO VIOLATE THE OATH, THE LAW AND YOUR CLIENT’S INTEREST BECAUSE YOU PLACE YOUR PERSONAL FEELINGS OVER ALL.

  21. Sam's Groupie says:

    County employees cannot rely on a representative from the County Attorney’s office to represent them in this kind of thing, either. The County Attorney represents the Commission, not County Administration or the employees. The Administrator has said the FBI has free access to all employees. If the FBI shows up in someone’s office, virtually unannounced, it is very unlikely that people are going to feel comfortable sending them away until they secure the services of a private attorney, even if they could afford representation, which is unlikely given the level of people being interviewed. It’s a no-win situation for other County employees. How do you feel about pro bono work, Sam?

  22. honest abe says:

    TALKING TO THE FBI OR THE POLICE WITHOUT A LAWYER IS LIKE SWIMMING AMONG SHARKS. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEM THEY DECIDE TO TAKE A BITE OUT OF YOU.

  23. anonymous1 says:

    Sammy,
    You are 100 percent right. Your post should be manditory reading for everybody at the Government Center or the School Board.

  24. tammy cohen says:

    sammy is a fool

  25. Good Advice...Or NOT? says:

    If you are a witness-type of interviewee..you do NOT want to bring a lawyer with you.

    If you are a potential target, Mr. Fields is providing you with some sound advice.

    Everything is relative.

  26. Sam Fields says:

    I do a lot of pro bono work. I decide them on a case by case basis.
    I will always listen

  27. e b white says:

    By the way wince, “lying lawyer” isn’t a double entremble” (whatever that is), its an oxymoron.

    You also fit the definition of the last two syllables of oxymoron.

    Sincerely,
    A lawyer who tells the truth.

  28. vince mcmahon says:

    sammy, hope you get to 74, i’m trying to geet to your current age, by the GRACE OF GOD, but the wink of your eye, playing the JEWISH card w/ geoff , you lied and it hurt my kids.and you like to run your mouth, which is fine, its a free country.people are dying for that right. but its supposed to be about the truth, and taking care of their own family.THINK SAMMY, THINK!!!!!!!!! where were you arrogant, lied, and your actions for pay hurt kids?????????? to laugh w/ fellow attys could care less about what is right or wrong.. and as a non lawyer,i’m chagrined and looking up the law, i really thought the court house was about the truth, THE LAW!!!!!!!!!! i actually think i understand the role of a defense atty,pros, judge, but its still supposed to get to the truth.and that wink, nod, back hall deals that hurt familys, lives, futures while you go make a bank deposit is what i find reprehensible.my point again is, write, pontificate, be an officer of the court, but dont wink, nod or use your very heavy power of most lackeys in the court house to abuse people, or how bout this, the taxpayers ?? put violent offenders away, quit wasting our money on all this other nonsense.

  29. vince mcmahon says:

    sammy, to further review your thoughts/ writings i’m now laughing,. you talk about the INNOCENT and unwary,please give me a break. my time in court w/ you further proves you are a lying bull shipper.you could care less about the innocent nor the unwary, just your paycheck and the fellow lying scum lawyers you are trading favors w/ . pls keep talking, b/c you prove how corrupt attys are and the damage they do to our country.you are a pompous jerk, but more importantly, a liar.and you have alot of company, look around you today, they know your spots/stripes, keep pontificating, its just proof of the pudding.your friend, me

  30. vince mcmahon says:

    where are you sammy?? cat got your tongue?? working your mind out trying to figure out what case you lied to a judge and call it the system. shame on you sammy, i’ve seen you in the halls w/ that arrogant smirk, i have no problem w/ that.my problem is when you and a lying atty is sitting in the back row, kids are crying, a family is in distres, and you know you lied, your friends lied, and as a fellow being of life was being creamed.SHAME ON YOU, sorry for your heartache, really am, just think you need to before you ruminate. or ZIP it, as i’ve been told about myself. THINK!!!!!!!!!

  31. admin says:

    DEAR MR. “VINCE MCMAHON”:
    I ALLOW THE COMMENTS SECTION OF BROWARDBEAT.COM TO BE FAIRLY FREE WHEELING.
    I HAVE ALLOWED YOU TO WRITE VAGUE AND REPEATED ATTACKS AGAINST SAM FIELDS.
    BUT YOUR COMMENTS ARE NOW BECOMING BORING. BORING IS ONE THING I WON’T PERMIT.
    I WILL PUT A STOP TO THESE ATTACKS, UNLESS YOU CAN OFFER ANY DETAILS OR PROOF OF YOUR ALLEGATIONS. YOU CAN SEND THEM TO ME PRIVATELY AT BROWARDBEAT@HOTMAIL.COM IF YOU DON’T WANT TO POST THEM.

  32. Olivia Brame says:

    Just letting you know it was not Justice Brennan who authored the famous “ham sandwich” quote. While various sources offer conflicting facts, the general consensus is that it was actually Sol Wachtler, the former New York State chief judge.

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