I am Tom Freeland, a lawyer in Oxford, Mississippi. The picture in the header is my law office. I'm on Twitter as NMissC

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Government’s motion reveals Dino Grisanti’s cooperation in the Neilson case

Yesterday, Dino Grisanti’s sentencing occurred before Judge Mills.  The Daily Journal reports he got a day in jail and a $7,500 fine on his guilty plea for selling vehicles in his inventory at Grisanti Rebel Motors in Oxford while concealing that from the bank:  “Prosecutors said that Grisanti concealed the sales of 66 automobiles and didn’t tell Regions to the tune of $2,085,768.”  Regions was ultimately repaid.

This seemed a remarkable sentence for Grisanti and his lawyer, Tony Farese, to have achieved.

Today, Judge Mills unsealed the government’s motion for a downward departure, which explains this result.  The motion attaches a letter from the prosecutors who handled Hal Neilson’s case, which has details about Grisanti’s cooperation, and how the government learned about Neilson’s participation.  Recall that Neilson was prosecuted for falsehoods in financial statements relating to an FBI building here last fall, resulting in a hung jury on some counts and innocence on others.

According to Grisanti, Neilson asked to be a co-owner of the building during the site selection process.

On July 9, 2008, Mr. Grisanti was interviewed by two agents with the DOJ-OIG and an attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In that debriefing, Mr. Grisanti provided the entire background regarding his business relationship with Neilson, including Neilson’s involvement in the site selection process for the new FBI Building.  According to Mr. Grisanti, Neilson requested during the selection process to be a one-third owner in the building should the contract be obtained by Mr. Grisanti and his business partner, John Covington.

The letter describes Nielson’s calling around to witnesses as soon as he heard of the investigation:

On July 29, 2008, Neilson learned that he was being investigated based on his financial interest in the FBI building.  Neilson immediately began contacting potential witnesses.  On the afternoon of July 29, 2008, Mr. Grisanti spoke with Neilson on the phone and allowed his conversation to be recorded by DOJ-OIG.  Neilson was not aware that Mr. Grisanti was cooperating in the investigation

The letter outlines the prosecutor’s decision not to call Grisanti as a witness in the Neilson case, a decision that puzzled some.

Here’s the motion and letter.

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