What do you call it when a prosecutor offers to let someone who's facing felony charges plead to a misdemeanor? If you're Tom DeLay, you call it coercion.
The plea offer was mentioned in a letter to [ Travis County District Attorney Ronnie] Earle from attorney Dick DeGuerin of Houston that accompanied motions to dismiss the indictments against DeLay. DeGuerin also asked that DeLay be severed from two co-defendants so he could be tried as quickly as possible.
DeLay, R-Sugar Land, was forced to step down as House majority leader after a grand jury under Earle's direction returned the first of two felony indictments against DeLay last month.
DeGuerin said Earle made the plea offer in the context of DeLay keeping his House leadership post.
"You tried to coerce a guilty plea from Tom DeLay for a misdemeanor, stating the alternative was indictment for a felony which would require his stepping down as majority leader," DeGuerin wrote.
"He turned you down, so you had him indicted, in spite of the advice from others in your office that Tom DeLay had committed no crime."
As for DeLay's motion to separate his trial, it's about his desire to wrap this up quickly. Ellis and Colyandro want to go all the way through the appeals process because they say the law is too "vague" - what they really mean is that since they made their payoffs with checks and not bags of cash, they technically didn't do anything wrong. DeLay doesn't want to draw this out; among other things, he's got the whole Abramoff thing to be worried about. He needs a quick resolution. I'm guessing he'll get his wish to be severed, but if he doesn't it could be unpleasant for him. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Grits says DeLay is getting a taste of business as usual in Travis County.Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 18, 2005 to Scandalized! | TrackBack