595 F.2d 1321 (7th Cir. 1979), 77-2258, United States v. McPartlin

Docket Nº:77-2258, 77-2259, 77-2274, 77-2275 and 77-2280.
Citation:595 F.2d 1321
Party Name:UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Robert McPARTLIN et al., Defendant-Appellants.
Case Date:March 26, 1979
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

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595 F.2d 1321 (7th Cir. 1979)

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,


Robert McPARTLIN et al., Defendant-Appellants.

Nos. 77-2258, 77-2259, 77-2274, 77-2275 and 77-2280.

United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

March 26, 1979

Argued Sept. 29, 1978.

As Amended on Denial of Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc

April 23, 1979.

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Edward J. Calihan, Jr., William J. Harte, Chicago, Ill., Herbert J. Miller, Jr., Washington, D. C., Joseph A. Lamendella, Harvey M. Silets, John J. Jiganti, Chicago, Ill., for defendants-appellants.

Gordon B. Nash, Joan B. Safford, Candace J. Fabri, Asst. U. S. Attys., Chicago, Ill., for plaintiff-appellee.

Before PELL, SPRECHER and TONE, Circuit Judges.

TONE, Circuit Judge.

The appellants were convicted, in a nine-week jury trial, of conspiring to violate the wire and travel fraud statutes and of substantive violations of those statutes.

The indictment charged that defendant Frederick B. Ingram, 1 chairman of the board of the Louisiana-based Ingram Corporation, had paid defendant Robert F. McPartlin, an Illinois legislator, defendant Valentine Janicki, a trustee for the Metropolitan Sanitary District, and others more than $900,000 to secure for the Ingram Corporation a multi-million dollar sludge-hauling contract with the District. Defendants Franklin H. Weber, a businessman, and Edwin T. Bull, president of a towing company, were alleged to be intermediaries through whom many of the payments were made. William J. Benton, vice president of Ingram Corporation, was an unindicted co-conspirator who played a major role in the conspiracy and testified as a witness for the prosecution. The defendants were convicted of numerous violations of the Travel Act, 18

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U.S.C. § 1952, and the Wire, Radio, Television Fraud Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1343, and of conspiring to violate those acts in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371. The jury acquitted three other defendants, E. Bronson Ingram, brother of Frederick B. Ingram and an officer of Ingram Corporation, Chester Majewski, a Metropolitan Sanitary District trustee, and Bart T. Lynam, General Supervisor of the Sanitary District. 2

The defendants urge as grounds for reversal the district court's denial of motions for severance, a ruling on the alleged withholding by the prosecution of evidence favorable to the defendants until the beginning of the trial, rulings admitting and excluding evidence, certain instructions to the jury, and other alleged trial errors. In this portion of the opinion the facts are stated and the issues arising from the denial of severance are decided. Judge Pell and Judge Sprecher have written, and I concur in, the portions of the opinion dealing with the other issues.

The Facts

The Sanitary District is a municipal corporation with primary responsibility for disposing of sewage from Chicago and surrounding areas. The District's business is governed by an elected Board of Trustees 3 and managed by a professional staff, which from time to time makes recommendations to the Board concerning major undertakings of the District.

The Sanitary District operates a sewage treatment plant in Stickney, Illinois. Until 1971 the sludge produced as a by-product was disposed of by pumping it into nearby lagoons. Early that year, because the lagoons were rapidly being filled and efforts to clean them had failed, the District announced plans to have the sludge transported to Fulton County, Illinois, about 160 miles southwest of Stickney, and solicited bids on the project, which were due on March 19, 1971.

Viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, the evidence showed that Benton, acting with the knowledge and complicity of Frederick Ingram and through intermediaries Bull and Weber, bribed McPartlin and Janicki to cause the sludge-hauling contract to be awarded to Ingram Corporation and one of its subsidiaries, and later bribed the same officials to secure favorable treatment under the contract and modifications of the contract. The details were as follows:

When the District solicited bids on the sludge-hauling project, defendant Bull assisted Frank Oberle, an employee of Ingram Contractors, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ingram Corporation, in investigating the new proposal. During the week before the bids were to be submitted, Bull visited Robert Howson, a vice president of Ingram Contractors, Inc., in New Orleans, Louisiana, and told Howson that if Ingram Corporation expected to secure the contract, it would have to make a "political contribution." Howson responded that he was not in that sort of business, but then took Bull to meet William J. Benton, vice president of Ingram Corporation and president of Ingram Contractors, Inc.

Ingram Corporation, Burlington Northern, Inc., and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company were the leading contenders among those submitting bids on March 19, 1971. To negotiate with these three bidders, the Sanitary District established a committee, which met with representatives of the bidders for the first time on March 23, 1971.

That evening Bull, Oberle, and Benton met in Benton's hotel room, where they were later joined by defendant Weber. After Bull had introduced Weber to Benton, Bull and Oberle left the room. Weber then told Benton that if Ingram Corporation wanted the sludge-hauling contract, it

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would have to make a $250,000 "political contribution." Benton replied that he would have to get approval from his superiors. After agreeing to meet Benton the next day, Weber left.

Benton then telephoned defendant Frederick Ingram to inform him of Weber's "political contribution" proposal. Ingram agreed, provided that the contribution could be added to the cost of the contract.

On March 24, 1971, Benton again met with Bull, who expressed his belief that if the Ingram Corporation accepted Weber's proposal, it would get the contract. Bull also told Benton that if the corporation did get the contract, he wanted $100,000 in addition to anything it paid Weber. At another meeting later in the day, Weber asked Benton to open an account at a Chicago bank to demonstrate Ingram Corporation's "good faith." That same day, Benton opened an account at the First National Bank of Chicago.

The following week, Weber called Benton and told him that Burlington Northern, Inc. had offered to make a $295,000 political contribution. According to Weber, it was therefore necessary for Ingram Corporation to raise its contribution to $450,000, including a $150,000 cash payment before the contract was awarded. Again Benton consulted Frederick Ingram, who again agreed on condition that the contribution could be added to the contract price. Benton communicated Ingram Corporation's approval to Weber, but said that the corporation could not raise $150,000 in cash on such short notice. Weber replied that some of the $150,000 had to be paid by April 3, 1971.

On April 3, 1971, Weber and McPartlin went to Benton's Chicago hotel room, where Weber introduced McPartlin to Benton as the man who handled all political contributions for the Democratic Party in Illinois. McPartlin assured Benton that Ingram Corporation would receive at least $21,500,000 in total revenue from the sludge-hauling contract. Benton gave McPartlin $75,000 in cash, including several one thousand dollar bills. On April 6, 1971, Weber deposited nine one thousand dollar bills in the account of one of his defunct corporations, Illinois Southern Materials.

On April 6, 1971, Weber telephoned Benton, asking for $25,000 in cash immediately to secure the cooperation of three Sanitary District staff members. When Benton protested that he could not deliver $25,000 cash on such short notice, Weber suggested that Ingram Corporation issue a check in that amount to Bull Towing Company, which Benton caused to be done the next day. On April 8, 1971, Edwin Bull deposited the Ingram check in the account of Bull Towing Company and, at the same time, withdrew $25,000 in cash from the account.

The Sanitary District requested the three bidders on the sludge-hauling contract to submit new bids by April 15, 1971. Santa Fe declined. Burlington Northern submitted a revised bid of $18,300,000. Oberle submitted Ingram Corporation's revised bid of $16,990,000, after which he returned to his hotel room, where he received a telephone call from either Benton or Weber. The caller instructed him to go to the bar at the Continental Plaza Hotel to meet defendant Janicki, which Oberle did. 4 At the meeting in the bar Janicki told Oberle to raise Ingram's revised bid to $17,990,000. Oberle then returned to his hotel room and telephoned Benton for advise. Benton instructed Oberle to attend the Sanitary District negotiating committee meeting scheduled for that afternoon. While attending the meeting, Oberle received telephone instructions from Benton to raise the Ingram bid by $1,000,000 to $17,990,000. Oberle did so.

On April 22, 1971, the Sanitary District Board of Trustees voted to award the contract to Ingram Corporation. Between that date and May 12, 1971, a contract was drafted by members of the Sanitary District staff and Ingram Corporation representatives, including John Donnelly, president of Ingram Barge Company, the Ingram Corporation subsidiary that would transport the sludge under the contract.

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The staff insisted on a liquidated damages clause authorizing the District to prescribe the amount of sludge to be transported in any 24-hour period and providing that Ingram Corporation would be assessed a penalty for each ton of sludge not transported, as prescribed, in any 24-hour period. Donnelly, after initially refusing to agree to the provision, discussed it...

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