Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Perata Beats the Rap

by Robert Gammon
Wed, May 27, 2009 at 11:18 AM

The US Attorney's Office in Sacramento has decided not to pursue public corruption charges against former state Senator Don Perata of Oakland. In a statement released Wednesday, acting US Attorney Lawrence Brown said: "Prosecutors from both this office and the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice have reviewed the matter involving Senator Don Perata and have determined not to pursue criminal charges. This office and the Criminal Division in Washington, D.C. worked collaboratively in undertaking this review. Each office reached its decision independently based on our respective analyses of the facts and the law. Beyond that, in accordance with departmental policy, we cannot disclose our deliberative process."

According to the Trib, Perata responded with his own statement, saying: "This is a complete affirmation of everything I've maintained for the last five years - that I've acted appropriately in both my professional life and my career in public service." Perata also called it "a full vindication," although it should be noted that the prosecutors' decision not to file charges doesn't mean that there was no evidence of Perata wrongdoing. According to the Associated Press, Perata's attorney George O'Connell said that he received a letter from Sacramento prosecutors informing him of their decision earlier this morning.

The move brings an end to the five-year-plus federal probe of Perata, and opens the door for his planned run for mayor of Oakland. Perata, a prodigious fund-raiser, will now be tough to be beat. Perata had always maintained his innocence, but the FBI believed it had built a criminal case against him. After Perata's high-priced defense team convinced the US Attorney's Office in San Francisco not to file charges against him last year, FBI agents took their case to Sacramento. But prosecutors there apparently agreed that the case against Perata wasn't strong enough to go forward.

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