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Startling Rebuke to Proseuctors In Order Dismissing Dr. Weiner Prosecution

Judge Biggers entered an opinion dismissing the prosecution against Judge Dr. Weiner.  There’s a lot of news at the level of put-the-cards-on-the-table; he talks about the ways that the Mann Act was used against unpopular political targets (Jack Johnson, Charlie Chaplin).  And then there’s this, explaining the prosecution in terms that do not reflect well on the Government:

The court is aware from arguments and briefs submitted to the court that Dr. Weiner has acted as a strong advocate for quality healthcare in Clarksdale and the surrounding area. As part of this advocacy, Dr. Weiner has been an outspoken critic of the health care organization which manages the local hospital there – a publicly-held company which Dr. Weiner holds responsible  for various deficiencies in the provision of healthcare at the hospital. As a result of his criticism, Dr. Weiner is apparently not in good favor with that company as evidenced by statements such as that made by an agent of the company, a former hospital administrator in Clarksdale, who defense counsel advise allegedly stated prior to Dr. Weiner’s arrest that the corporation was “going to get Dr. Weiner out of there even if it had to do it in handcuffs” (or words to that effect). An e-mail from this same administrator reveals his reaction to the arrest of Dr. Weiner. When advised that Dr. Weiner’s office computer was searched, that the search revealed that Dr. Weiner communicated with persons he thought were women visiting the SugarDaddyForMe website, and that information was taken which, inter alia, led to the indictment herein, the administrator responded in an e-mail, “Alright!!!!!!” The court is also advised that another official in this management company with whom Dr. Weiner has had numerous conflicts is a retired veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The court is further advised that SugarDaddyForMe.com receives thousands of hits a day; yet, according to the information from defense counsel herein, the government has prosecuted not one other individual besides Dr. Weiner for an alleged Mann Act violation accomplished via this website.

The order also describes the “conduct” that lead to the prosecution:

Transcripts of Dr. Weiner’s communications with “Wild Ginger” and “Mary” reveal that these “women” played the role of inducers more than Dr. Weiner did. Dr. Weiner made unequivocal statements to the undercover agents posing as Mary and Ginger that he was not interested in a “hooker” and was then informed and persuaded that the women were not hookers. For instance, during one e-mail exchange, Wild Ginger inquired of Dr. Weiner, “What’s in it for me?” Dr. Weiner responded that there is a “major difference between a sugar baby and a hooker” and that he was no longer interested in her in light of her “crass” inquiry. He stated, “I will pass . . . the talents you are promoting are ubiquitous.” After some effort, Ginger subsequently convinced Dr. Weiner that she was not a hooker and informed him that she wished to travel from Memphis, Tennessee, to Tunica, Mississippi, and she invited him to travel there to meet her. Mary informed Dr. Weiner that she would be traveling through Mississippi on her way home to Mobile, Alabama, from a Memphis business trip, and she suggested that they meet in Clarksdale, Mississippi.

… “Mary” came closest to “potential hypothetical interstate travel” when she told Dr. Weiner she would stop by and see him on her way back to Mobile from Memphis. Obviously realizing she had thereby negated the inducement element of the offense by informing Dr. Weiner that she would be crossing state lines for her own purposes, she called him back on the morning of their planned meeting and, in an apparent attempt to correct her previous error, told him she was not going to Mobile – she was returning to Memphis after their meeting – that is, she had made a “special trip” across state lines just to see him. Mary’s apparent attempt to correct her earlier negating of the inducement element was unsuccessful, however, because she called Dr. Weiner when she was already in Mississippi to tell him her plans to return to Memphis after their meeting. Dr. Weiner told her that her plans were nonsensical and never did he induce her to cross the state line. As far as he knew, she was on her way back to Mobile – a trip for her own purposes – until she called and told him, while already in Mississippi, of her plans to return to Memphis after their meeting. As for Ginger, it is uncontested that she suggested Dr. Weiner meet her in Tunica. Just as with Mary, Dr. Weiner did not induce her or attempt to induce her to cross a state line.  DismiOThe agents repeatedly played the roles of inducers in the present case. Their actions were nothing less than blatant, though unsuccessful, attempts to manufacture federal jurisdiction and are reminiscent of the behavior of the agents in one of the seminal cases on manufactured jurisdiction.

The Court also repeats a hypothetical in proposed at the argument about the motion to dismiss:

The court finds this case analogous to an imagined scenario presented in open court at the oral argument hearing on this motion, to wit: a Memphis resident asks a female friend to travel to Oxford, Mississippi, in order to engage in prostitution there. In this scenario, we will imagine the residents of Memphis sitting in their living room, and one says to the other, “Well, you know, I think I’ve found a good place for us to set up our business. Let’s go down to Oxford. You’ve got all those college boys down there; they’re looking for somebody like you. They’d really be impressed by you. So let’s go down there and set up in a motel there, and we can really make some money.” The female responds, “Well, I’m not really sure I want to do that. I like it up here.” The male says, “No, let’s go down there. I want to. I want to go down there and take you down there.” He attempts back and forth to entice her to come down here to Oxford, but she says, “Well, I just don’t want to go.” The court asked the government at the November 5 hearing whether this hypothetical conversation would be a violation of the Mann Act and a federal offense subject to up to twenty years imprisonment (and in the present case would result in loss of a medical license). Specifically, the court asked the prosecutor, “Has he [the male from Memphis] committed a federal crime?” The prosecutor responded, “Under the statute, yes, Your Honor.” The court disagrees.

It’s a very interesting opinion.  You can read it here.

10 comments to Startling Rebuke to Proseuctors In Order Dismissing Dr. Weiner Prosecution

  • WantedToBeALawyer

    I am really glad Ginger was cleared. Mary, ehhhh. I was always a Ginger man, not so much Mary Ann.

  • Ben

    DoJ’s inspector general needs to crack some heads in the USA’s shop, ND Miss. This is not a pursuit of justice … it’s cold, political, vindictive, oppression of an American citizen.

  • Originally I was sad to see a fellow MD having placed himself in such a situation but we see this sometimes. The combo of the charges, the site name and the fall from grace of another professional just had some ring of truth to it. The comments here argued otherwise (incider knowledge from the foodies) but it certainly sounded like he did something stupid that could have screwed him. Dr Weiner’s thoughts such as “the talents you are promoting are ubiquitous” partially redeems his judgement.

    For a review of his preferred site: http://wealthy-dating-websites.no1reviews.com/SugarDaddyForMe.html
    another site has it higher but it sure looks and sounds cheesy. I am no social Luddite- one of my stepkids married an Italian that he met online (6 years, one kid, and strong marriage so far) and another found a more acceptable companion than her first husband on eharmony but SugarDaddyForMe just has a questionable connotation on its face. I hope his name can be cleaned up some and the local press reveals some of these details to his benefit.

    I imagine that the principals that Judge Biggers refers to will just shrug their collective shoulders and be happy with Doc’s temporary loss of face and diluted ability to criticize.
    The statements of Anon, candice and Anarchyx from an early post echo here. “This was payback, plain and simple.” “Why are people defending him anyway? He is a criminal. We shall see what transpires from all of this.” Follow up comments form Candice and anon will be accepted with their real names. Why not stand behind your name calling. Id love to see their association with the above noted

    Nature Lover
    By the way one of my cute frail 87 year olds refers to me as ‘sugar baby’ should I be concerned?

  • Anderson

    Unfortunately, I doubt a single person involved in the attempted entrapment of Dr. Weiner feels any remorse.

    … One moral of the story: Don’t e-mail anyone, especially a complete stranger, about which bodily orifices particularly intrigue you sexually. It might end up in an indictment one day. News you can use, folks.

  • Bayrat

    And the name of the hospital management company is. . . .?

  • [...] (Hat tip: NMissCommentor.) Digg it |  reddit |  del.icio.us |  Fark [...]

  • a friend of the law

    This was one of those scenarios where most of us from outside of Clarksdale, who knew little or nothing of Dr. Weiner before this matter, viewed the situation with great skepticism and as apparent excessive government action run wild. Many of us wondered why the feds would be wasting their time on something like this, when there are so many other more serious problems in the Clarksdale community re drugs, gangs, murder, etc. But, those in the Clarksdale community who posted here and claimed to know something of the “true facts” seemed to insist that this guy was a really bad person, and that this situation was just the tip of the iceberg. Well, that was quite some time ago. When I initially expressed my strong concerns about this apparent government witch hunt, there was always the thought in the back of my mind: “what if these locals are right, and he turns out to be a dangerous sexual predator, etc.?”. Thus, I suspect that many (like me) may have initially tempered their outrage and remarks for fear of getting egg on our faces later. And a good lesson can be learned here. Did it really matter whether Dr. Weiner was a good guy or bad guy, when the facts supporting the alleged “crimes” committed appeared so flimsy from the outset? No, it shouldn’t. This type of federal witch hunt should not be tolerated no matter the target.

    Bravo to Judge Biggers for his opinion —this opinion should have a chilling effect on any such bullshit in the future.

  • somslawyer

    The management company is Health Management Associates from Naples, FL. They operate 13 hospitals and 20 clinics in Mississippi, including Biloxi Regional, Gulf Oaks, Natchez Community, Central Mississippi, River Oaks, Rankin, and Women’s Hospital.

  • [...] “Mississippi Cardiologist Won’t Go to Prison for Online Dating” [Balko, Freeland] [...]

  • You have the defendant named as “Judge Weiner” in the first sentence of your post. I don’t see any way that they’re the same person!

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