February 15, 2007

Diane Feinstein Says "Thank You, Carol Lam"

Carol Lam

Courtesy of the San Diego Union Tribune

The other day, I noted that Carol Lam deserves our thanks for her work in prosecuting Duke Cunningham and indicting Brent Wilkes and Dusty Foggo. Well, it seems that there is a great deal more that she's accomplished as prosecutor and where she served the public good that should be recognized. Via TPMMuckraker, here's Diane Feinstein's thanks to Carol Lam for her service as US Attorney.

Today is U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's last day in office. I want to commend her. I thank her for the work she has done in that office. She was sworn in as U.S. attorney in September of 2002 and was appointed by the President in November 2002. Prior to serving as U.S. attorney, she was a judge of the Superior Court of San Diego, and she served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of California for 11 years. So she was no newcomer. She has been successful in bringing many of the country's most important corruption cases. I want to go through a few of them.

In March of 2004, Steven Mark Lash, the former chief financial officer of FPA Medical Management, was sentenced for his role in defrauding shareholders and lenders of FPA. The collapse of the company left more than 1,600 doctors being owed more than $60 million and patients reported being unable to obtain medical care because FPA had ceased paying providers. Thank you, Carol Lam.

In January 2005, Mark Anthony Kolowich, owner of World Express Rx, pled guilty to conspiracy to selling counterfeit pharmaceuticals, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and smuggle pharmaceuticals, and conspiracy to launder money. Mr. Kolowich had run an Internet pharmacy Web site where customers could order prescription drugs without a valid prescription. The judge called him the kingpin and architect of an elicit pharmaceutical ring that recruited many others to smuggle drugs across the United States-Mexico border at San Ysidro. Ms. Lam also announced that charges had been filed against five other individuals in a related case involving MyRxForLess.com. Thank you, Carol Lam.

In July 2005, Ms. Lam brought a case against San Diego councilman Ralph Inzunza and Las Vegas lobbyist Lance Malone. They were convicted on multiple counts of extortion, wire fraud conspiracy, and wire fraud. They were accused of trading money for efforts to repeal a law.

In November 2005, Ms. Lam secured a guilty plea from former Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham for taking more than $2 million in bribes in a criminal conspiracy case involving at least three defense contractors, after he accepted cash and gifts and then tried to influence the Defense Department on behalf of donors. He also pled guilty to a separate tax evasion violation for failing to disclose income in 2004. Thank you, Carol Lam.

In addition, earlier this week, Carol Lam announced two more indictments of Kyl "Dusty" Foggo, former top officer at the CIA, and Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor accused of bribing Duke Cunningham and the prime benefactor of the secret CIA contracts. Thank you, Carol Lam.

This woman was called and told to resign by a date specific, after she has done all of this good work. Ms. Lam and the San Diego U.S. Attorney's office have also pursued and successfully prosecuted other important cases, including:

In September 2005, the president of the San Diego chapter of Hellís Angels pled guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering. Guy Russell Castiglione admitted that he conspired to kill members of a rival motorcycle gang, the Mongols, and to sell methamphetamine. Thank you, Carol Lam.

Then in December 2005, Daymond Buchanan, member of Hells Angels, was sentenced to 92 months in Federal prison for participating in a pattern of racketeering. He admitted in his guilty plea that he and other Hellís Angels also inflicted serious bodily injury upon one victim and that another Hellís Angel brandished a firearm during the offense.

At that time, Ms. Lam announced, ďWith the president, sergeant at arms, secretary, treasurer, and six other members of the Hell's Angels convicted of racketeering charges and facing long prison sentences, the San Diego chapter of the Hell's Angels has been effectively shut down for the foreseeable future.Ē Thank you, Carol Lam.

And what does she get? Fired without cause.

In September, 2006, Jose Ernesto Beltran-Quinonez, a Mexican national, pleaded guilty to making false statements about weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Quinonez was sentenced to 3 years in Federal prison for making up a story about Chinese terrorists sneaking into the United States with a nuclear warhead. That hoax prompted a massive investigation, Federal warnings, discussions at one of President Bush's security briefings, and a nationwide hunt for the group of Chinese supposedly plotting the attack. Thank you, Carol Lam.

In December 2006, Mel Kay, of Golden State Fence Company, and Michael McLaughlin, pleaded guilty to felony charges of hiring illegal immigrants and agreed to pay fines of $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. The company, which built more than a mile of the 15-foot-high fence near the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego, agreed separately to pay $5 million on a misdemeanor count, one of the largest fines ever imposed on a company for an immigration violation. Thank you, Carol Lam.

These are just some of the important cases Carol Lam has pursued during her tenure. She does not deserve this kind of treatment.

In addition, during her previous time in the office, Ms. Lam prosecuted and convicted several high-ranking members of La Cosa Nostra, a Chicago-based organized crime family. She also secured a guilty plea and settlement of $110 million against National Health Laboratories, Inc., in a Medicare fraud case.

Ms. Lam has had a distinguished career and she served the Southern District of San Diego well, and everyone in that district knows that. I regret that main Justice does not. I am quite disappointed that main Justice chose to remove her, especially given the ongoing work in which the office is involved.

And for all the work she'd done for us, she has been asked to resign so the Bush administration can put in someone else that is more beholding to the Bush administration. According to the news reports, she wasn't doing enough to address the really important crimes: gun smuggling, immigration and illegal drugs. It's too bad she and we are served so badly by this administration.

Update: here's the San Diego Union Tribune's take on Carol Lam's legacy.

Posted by Mary at February 15, 2007 02:20 PM | Law/Justice | Technorati links |

But did she catch Saddam Hussein? No. She also missed all the people Jack Bauer's caught and her friends haven't made money off her decisions. Plus she's a woman.

How can anyone take her seriously if she won't authorize torturing people who live in the Middle East or places somewhere south, north, east and west of there?

Now, at last, her husband can get a decent cup of coffee from her. And her replacement can eliminate the real threat to the country, immigrants who won't let us pick our own lettuce.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at February 16, 2007 12:23 AM

Lettuce to be shipped to New Jersey for washing before being served on thirty cent tacos in Oregon.

Posted by: Thomas Ware at February 16, 2007 09:06 AM

Thanks Carol. Great job!

Posted by: brian at February 16, 2007 02:15 PM

Mary - what a fantastic job you've done in summarizing Lam's legacy. Thank you.

It's good thing that Feinstein and Loretta Sanchez are going to be all over this in upcoming hearings.

Posted by: shoephone at February 16, 2007 11:22 PM