FBI, NYPD reportedly have criminal investigations underway on Harvey Weinstein

Earlier reports that Harvey Weinstein fled US jurisdiction by flying to "sex addiction" rehab in Europe apparently are false, but he may yet face the long arm of the law.  The U.K. Daily Mail reports:

The FBI has opened an investigation into Harvey Weinstein, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.

DailyMail.com understands the move came at the behest of the Department of Justice, run by Donald Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which instructed the bureau to investigate the mounting allegations leveled at the movie mogul.

While it is unknown whether the DOJ order came directly from Sessions, the move is likely to be seen in a political light given Weinstein's friendship with Trump foe Hillary Clinton.

Unless rape or sexual assault is committed on federal property, or unless interstate transportation was directly involved in the commission of those crimes, they fall under state and local jurisdiction, not the feds'.  But there are potential federal crimes that could well be involved if the accusations against Weinstein are true.  Most of them have to do with taxes.  In particular, if the settlements paid to aggrieved females were deducted as business expenses, then the IRS has a claim against the Weinstein Company or other business entity that paid out and deducted the costs of silencing victims.

Or the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport someone across state lines for immoral purposes, could apply if a starlet was ferried from New Jersey or Connecticut to Manhattan, for instance.

But if I had to bet, I'd say Harvey's worst nightmares may come from the New York Police Department.  Nate Jones writes:

In interviews with the Daily Beast and The New Yorker, NYPD officers involved in a 2015 sexual assault accusation against Harvey Weinstein expressed bewilderment that the mogul was not charged following the incident. 

The incident in question is the wire worn by Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, which recorded Harvey admitting that he touched her breast before and that he does this a lot.

As law enforcement sources told The New Yorker, such a case would usually merit a charge of third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. Instead, Weinstein was never charged.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the Manhattan district attorney's office disputed the implication that Weinstein had used his influence to escape charges. (Weinstein's lawyer was a campaign donor to DA Cyrus Vance.) In the statement, ADA Karen Friedman Agnifilo puts the blame for the case falling apart at the feet of the NYPD. "The seasoned prosecutors in our Sex Crimes Unit were not afforded the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators on what was necessary to capture in order to prove a misdemeanor sex crime," Agnifilo writes. "While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent."

Vance went on television last night to reinforce the message that the political hot potato is in the NYPD's lap, not his:

Rush transcript via Grabien:

VANCE JR.: " – not the court of public opinion, and our sex crimes prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case and so the decision was made not to go forward. That's the basis for it. I understand that folks – folks are outraged by his behavior. I understand that there are many other allegations that have surfaced, but in our case we really did what I think the law obligates us to do: Focus on the evidence and the facts that we have, and then I relied on the true professionals to help guide the decision which is not always going to be the popular decision. That's the nature of being prosecuted."
REPORTER: "Were you the final say?"
REPORTER: "What else do you need?"
REPORTER: "When you say we, do you mean you made the decision?"
VANCE JR.: "We made the decision as an office. I was guided by the head of our sex crimes unit and her recommendation, and that's – and that's – and her investigation is what led me to the conclusion."
REPORTER: "Do you regret taking donations from the President and from Weinstein's attorney?"
VANCE JR.: "From who?"
REPORTER: "Marc Kasowitz."
VANCE JR.: "No contribution ever in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any impact on my decision-making in a case. Contributions are, unfortunately, a part of running for office. They are legal, and I have a very sound vetting system, so the answer is I don't regret as a D.A. having to raise money in order to campaign for office, and nothing that Marc ever contributed or anyone else ever contributed has had the slightest impact on my decision-making. I've been a lawyer now for 35 years. I understand how to focus on the law and what my obligations are as district attorney, so the answer is they had no impact on my thinking."
REPORTER: "Do you regret the decision?"
REPORTER: "Is it appropriate that district attorneys are allowed to raise so much money from –"
VANCE JR: "The answer is it is legal."
REPORTER: "Yes, it's legal, but is it appropriate?"
VANCE JR.: "It is legal and it has been common practice for district attorneys to be able to raise money from lawyers, even though those lawyers may have –"
REPORTER: "Does that make it right?"
VANCE JR.: "What it does do is calls for an opportunity like this for me to rethink with my assistants and how we wish to handle this matter going forward. In answer it's absolutely legal but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be re-examined."
REPORTER: "Do you regret –"
REPORTER: "Do you wish that you had in light of all of the allegations nationwide, do you have any regrets about not prosecuting Harvey Weinstein at this point, regrets about that case because obviously in your statement you said some errors were made by the NYPD so let's do the Monday morning quarterback, if we may."
VANCE JR.: "Let's try to be fair and straight."
REPORTER: "Okay."
VANCE JR.: "If we had a case that we felt we could prosecute, and my experts felt we could prosecute against Harvey Weinstein, we would have. We take on many, many, many difficult sex crime prosecutions with individuals irrespective of their background or their money, so that's not an issue for us. We're really based on the facts, not what people think about it, not about whether people liked Harvey or not. Obviously, hehas serious issues and the tape is terrible. But I as D.A. have to be guided by the evidence and the elements of the crime and my experts in the office, and if I stop being guided by any of those things and start being guided bid outside influences whether it's money or whether it's public opinion, then I'm not doing my job. So I'll take criticism for my decisions, but my decisions were based on the law and the investigation guided by my experts."
REPORTER: "Have you given any of the money back?"

I think Vance Jr. has made a big mistake.  Recall that it was the NYPD that brought down Anthony Weiner, not the feds.  I have enormous respect for the NYPD[i].  They embody a culture that is very, very intolerant of assaulting helpless females.  Ed Timperlake, who grew up in an NYPD family, remarked to me yesterday, "I suspect Harvey is facing some very unforgiving NYPD female officers in addition to their fellow male officers who also have the protection of women in their historic DNA."

According to lore, there is a strong rivalry between the NYPD and the FBI, and the opportunity to make high-profile collar first would be considerable.  Just what Harvey needs: two massive law enforcement agencies trying to nail him.  Perhaps it's time for him to consider the wisdom of the saying, "Be nice to people on your way up.  You'll meet them on the way down."

If I were Harvey, I'd much rather do time in a federal prison than a state pen.  I don't think he would last very long at all among the prison population in Dannemora or Attica.


[i] OK, some of that is because I was in the process of being mugged one night in Manhattan during the Dinkins mayoralty when the NYPD showed up (on patrol, driving down the dark street on which I stupidly had ventured), had a blast on their siren, shined their spotlight on us, and chased away the muggers who had just begun the mugging.

Earlier reports that Harvey Weinstein fled US jurisdiction by flying to "sex addiction" rehab in Europe apparently are false, but he may yet face the long arm of the law.  The U.K. Daily Mail reports:

The FBI has opened an investigation into Harvey Weinstein, DailyMail.com has exclusively learned.

DailyMail.com understands the move came at the behest of the Department of Justice, run by Donald Trump's Attorney General Jeff Sessions, which instructed the bureau to investigate the mounting allegations leveled at the movie mogul.

While it is unknown whether the DOJ order came directly from Sessions, the move is likely to be seen in a political light given Weinstein's friendship with Trump foe Hillary Clinton.

Unless rape or sexual assault is committed on federal property, or unless interstate transportation was directly involved in the commission of those crimes, they fall under state and local jurisdiction, not the feds'.  But there are potential federal crimes that could well be involved if the accusations against Weinstein are true.  Most of them have to do with taxes.  In particular, if the settlements paid to aggrieved females were deducted as business expenses, then the IRS has a claim against the Weinstein Company or other business entity that paid out and deducted the costs of silencing victims.

Or the Mann Act, which makes it illegal to transport someone across state lines for immoral purposes, could apply if a starlet was ferried from New Jersey or Connecticut to Manhattan, for instance.

But if I had to bet, I'd say Harvey's worst nightmares may come from the New York Police Department.  Nate Jones writes:

In interviews with the Daily Beast and The New Yorker, NYPD officers involved in a 2015 sexual assault accusation against Harvey Weinstein expressed bewilderment that the mogul was not charged following the incident. 

The incident in question is the wire worn by Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, which recorded Harvey admitting that he touched her breast before and that he does this a lot.

As law enforcement sources told The New Yorker, such a case would usually merit a charge of third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor. Instead, Weinstein was never charged.

In a statement Tuesday afternoon, the Manhattan district attorney's office disputed the implication that Weinstein had used his influence to escape charges. (Weinstein's lawyer was a campaign donor to DA Cyrus Vance.) In the statement, ADA Karen Friedman Agnifilo puts the blame for the case falling apart at the feet of the NYPD. "The seasoned prosecutors in our Sex Crimes Unit were not afforded the opportunity before the meeting to counsel investigators on what was necessary to capture in order to prove a misdemeanor sex crime," Agnifilo writes. "While the recording is horrifying to listen to, what emerged from the audio was insufficient to prove a crime under New York law, which requires prosecutors to establish criminal intent."

Vance went on television last night to reinforce the message that the political hot potato is in the NYPD's lap, not his:

Rush transcript via Grabien:

VANCE JR.: " – not the court of public opinion, and our sex crimes prosecutors made a determination that this was not going to be a provable case and so the decision was made not to go forward. That's the basis for it. I understand that folks – folks are outraged by his behavior. I understand that there are many other allegations that have surfaced, but in our case we really did what I think the law obligates us to do: Focus on the evidence and the facts that we have, and then I relied on the true professionals to help guide the decision which is not always going to be the popular decision. That's the nature of being prosecuted."
REPORTER: "Were you the final say?"
REPORTER: "What else do you need?"
REPORTER: "When you say we, do you mean you made the decision?"
VANCE JR.: "We made the decision as an office. I was guided by the head of our sex crimes unit and her recommendation, and that's – and that's – and her investigation is what led me to the conclusion."
REPORTER: "Do you regret taking donations from the President and from Weinstein's attorney?"
VANCE JR.: "From who?"
REPORTER: "Marc Kasowitz."
VANCE JR.: "No contribution ever in my seven years as district attorney has ever had any impact on my decision-making in a case. Contributions are, unfortunately, a part of running for office. They are legal, and I have a very sound vetting system, so the answer is I don't regret as a D.A. having to raise money in order to campaign for office, and nothing that Marc ever contributed or anyone else ever contributed has had the slightest impact on my decision-making. I've been a lawyer now for 35 years. I understand how to focus on the law and what my obligations are as district attorney, so the answer is they had no impact on my thinking."
REPORTER: "Do you regret the decision?"
REPORTER: "Is it appropriate that district attorneys are allowed to raise so much money from –"
VANCE JR: "The answer is it is legal."
REPORTER: "Yes, it's legal, but is it appropriate?"
VANCE JR.: "It is legal and it has been common practice for district attorneys to be able to raise money from lawyers, even though those lawyers may have –"
REPORTER: "Does that make it right?"
VANCE JR.: "What it does do is calls for an opportunity like this for me to rethink with my assistants and how we wish to handle this matter going forward. In answer it's absolutely legal but it doesn't mean that it shouldn't be re-examined."
REPORTER: "Do you regret –"
REPORTER: "Do you wish that you had in light of all of the allegations nationwide, do you have any regrets about not prosecuting Harvey Weinstein at this point, regrets about that case because obviously in your statement you said some errors were made by the NYPD so let's do the Monday morning quarterback, if we may."
VANCE JR.: "Let's try to be fair and straight."
REPORTER: "Okay."
VANCE JR.: "If we had a case that we felt we could prosecute, and my experts felt we could prosecute against Harvey Weinstein, we would have. We take on many, many, many difficult sex crime prosecutions with individuals irrespective of their background or their money, so that's not an issue for us. We're really based on the facts, not what people think about it, not about whether people liked Harvey or not. Obviously, hehas serious issues and the tape is terrible. But I as D.A. have to be guided by the evidence and the elements of the crime and my experts in the office, and if I stop being guided by any of those things and start being guided bid outside influences whether it's money or whether it's public opinion, then I'm not doing my job. So I'll take criticism for my decisions, but my decisions were based on the law and the investigation guided by my experts."
REPORTER: "Have you given any of the money back?"

I think Vance Jr. has made a big mistake.  Recall that it was the NYPD that brought down Anthony Weiner, not the feds.  I have enormous respect for the NYPD[i].  They embody a culture that is very, very intolerant of assaulting helpless females.  Ed Timperlake, who grew up in an NYPD family, remarked to me yesterday, "I suspect Harvey is facing some very unforgiving NYPD female officers in addition to their fellow male officers who also have the protection of women in their historic DNA."

According to lore, there is a strong rivalry between the NYPD and the FBI, and the opportunity to make high-profile collar first would be considerable.  Just what Harvey needs: two massive law enforcement agencies trying to nail him.  Perhaps it's time for him to consider the wisdom of the saying, "Be nice to people on your way up.  You'll meet them on the way down."

If I were Harvey, I'd much rather do time in a federal prison than a state pen.  I don't think he would last very long at all among the prison population in Dannemora or Attica.


[i] OK, some of that is because I was in the process of being mugged one night in Manhattan during the Dinkins mayoralty when the NYPD showed up (on patrol, driving down the dark street on which I stupidly had ventured), had a blast on their siren, shined their spotlight on us, and chased away the muggers who had just begun the mugging.

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