Politics

Chang Provided ‘Substantial Corroborating Evidence’

What finally caused Sen. Robert Torricelli to try to end his re-election campaign was the release, on September 26, of a memo written by federal prosecutors George S. Canellos and Andrew J. Ceresney to Federal District Judge Alfred M. Wolin.

The memo asked the judge to be lenient in sentencing David Chang, who had been convicted of witness tampering and making illegal contributions to Torricelli’s campaign. The prosecutors’ argument: Chang had provided them with “assistance” in the prosecution of a State Department analyst and in the “investigation of a federal public official.” That official was Torricelli. Here is an excerpt from the prosecutors’ memo:

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“According to Chang, this relationship began in 1995, after the Public Official wrote letters of recommendation on behalf of Chang to U.S. and foreign government officials from whom Chang was seeking government business. . . .

“Soon afterwards, according to Chang, the Public Official requested that Chang provide him with $25,000 in cash, which the Public Official said he would use for the Public Official’s campaign. When Chang asked whether it was legal for him to provide cash, the Public Official assured Chang it was legal. According to Chang, he then asked Audrey Yu, his bookkeeper, to prepare $25,000 in cash from Bright & Bright funds. After obtaining this amount of cash with Yu’s assistance, Chang drove with Yu to the Public Official’s home and delivered and envelope containing $25,000 in cash.

“After this initial delivery, from about 1996 until about December 1998, Chang claimed that he provided the Public Official with things of value worth many thousands of dollars, including antiques, jewelry, clothing, electronic equipment, and decorative items, as well as tens of thousands of dollars of additional cash payments. . . .

“In addition to Chang spending hundreds of hours recounting the details of his relationship with the Public Official to prosecutors and agents, Chang spent countless more assisting the Government in locating and compiling documentary evidence that corroborated Chang’s claims and identifying witnesses who could do the same. For example, Chang traveled with agents to New York in order to identify an antique shop where he purchased thousands of dollars of sculptures for the Public Official. Similarly, Chang traveled with agents to an oriental carpet shop where he purchased a carpet for the Public Official’s former wife. Chang also traveled with agents to appliance shops, jewelry shops, and other locations where he went in the company of the Public Official or to purchase items requested by the Public Official. . . . .

“Although the Government did not ultimately bring a prosecution against the Public Official, the Government also found Chang’s statements concerning the conduct of the Public Official credible in most material respects. Further, the information which Chang provided greatly advanced the Government’s investigation. This information led to the discovery of substantial corroborating evidence, including documentary evidence and the testimony of numerous witnesses. Notably, the information concerning Chang’s cash payments to the Public Official was corroborated in significant respects by Audrey Yu, his former bookkeeper; the information concerning Chang’s purchases of items of value for the Public Official was corroborated by many vendors from whom Chang purchased these items; and the information concerning the assistance that the Public Official provided to Chang in connection with business projects was corroborated by several other witnesses, including several whose credibility was not in doubt.”
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