Judge dismisses all charges in Ireland bribery case

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HARRISBURG — In an extraordinary decision, a federal judge on Monday dismissed the corruption case against a wealthy Chester County businessman, saying the government had failed to prove he attempted to bribe former state Treasurer Rob McCord.


U.S. District John E. Jones III delivered the decision from the bench, after hearing two weeks of government testimony in the case of Richard Ireland. 

This is a tough call but it is a call that has to be made,” the judge told a shocked courtroom. 


The ruling was a striking blow to federal authorites who have led a long-running pay-to-play investigation into lobbying and other political activity in Harrisburg. 





As the judge announced his decision, Ireland’s attorney, Reid Weingarten, dropped his head and smiled. Supporters of Ireland, 80, flocked to shake his hand.

“It’s unusual,” Weingarten said of the ruling, “but in this instance, it’s right on.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Consiglio declined to comment. 

McCord pleaded guilty two years ago to extortion charges after being caught promising campaign donors, including Ireland, state business in return for contributions. He also became a star witness for the government.




But during his three days on the stand, McCord provided such lukewarm support for the government’s case that prosecutors grew increasingly short with him, almost treating him as a hostile witness.

Ireland’s lawyer, Weingarten, noted in a motion filed last week that McCord repeatedly testified that he did not believe, until prosecutors convinced him otherwise, that he and Ireland were engaged in anything illegal.

    At one point, Weingarten asked , “It is true, is it not, that in 2008, you never believed yourself to be in a bribery conspiracy with Dick Ireland? Correct?”

      McCord replied: “That’s correct.”




















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