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Friday, September 21, 2007


Scott Nelson

According to press accounts, the Weiss indictment includes not only conspiracy charges relating to the alleged scheme to recruit plaintiffs and pay them undisclosed kickbacks, but also a count each of obstruction of justice and false statements in connection with the grand jury investigation.

That seems like bad news for Weiss. These kinds of cover-up charges are often easier to prove than the underlying charges and by themselves can carry very serious penalties. Prosecutors also tend to take them personally, which can complicate plea negotiations.

As Richard Nixon said to John Dean in one of the more ironic conversations on the White House tapes, "If you cover up, you're going to get caught. And if you lie you're going to be guilty of perjury. ... It is not the issue that will harm you; it is the cover-up that is damaging." The Weiss case may prove yet another illustration of that maxim, though Weiss's lawyers say he will be "fully exonerated."

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