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  •   The Espy Probe: Key Stories

    Mike Espy/AP
    Michael Espy (file photo)

    Key Post stories on former agriculture secretary Mike Espy and his acquittal on charges brought by independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz:

    A Harsh Verdict for Espy's Prosecutor
    December 4, 1998
    The jurors who acquitted former agriculture secretary Mike Espy had sharp words for independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz, saying his $17 million corruption case was an outrageous waste of taxpayers' money and an unfair assault on a man they felt was a motivated, effective leader.

    Espy Acquitted in Gifts Case
    December 3, 1998
    Former agriculture secretary Mike Espy was acquitted of 30 corruption charges brought against him by an independent counsel whom Espy likened to a "schoolyard bully."
    Espy Loss Puts Prosecutor's Tactics on Trial
    Espy Probe at a Glance

    In Closing, Espy Lawyer Calls Charges 'Garbage'
    December 1, 1998
    The seven-week trial of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy came to a close with a rhetorical assault on independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz by Espy's defense lawyer, who derided the corruption case as "a joke" and "a bunch of garbage."

    Judge Dismisses Part Of Espy Gifts Case
    November 25, 1998
    A federal judge dismissed part of the corruption case against former agriculture secretary Mike Espy, ruling that prosecutors had failed to show criminal conduct in his acceptance of Super Bowl tickets and a Waterford crystal bowl from two corporations that had business dealings with USDA.

    As Espy Trial Ends, Its Insight Into Gifts and Favors Is Murky
    November 23, 1998
    The trial of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy has been a primer into the way Washington works. While some maintain the law requires public officials to keep a professional detachment from lobbyists and the interests they regulate, others contends that public officials can enjoy friendships with corporate officials and lobbyists and still make decisions fairly.

    Prosecutor: Espy Aware of Ethics Breach
    October 2, 1998
    Former agriculture secretary Mike Espy knew he wasn't supposed to accept plane rides, sporting tickets and other gifts from lobbyists, independent counsel Donald C. Smaltz said in opening arguments at Espy's trial.

    Espy Corruption Trial Set to Begin
    October 1, 1998
    Former agriculture secretary Mike Espy is scheduled to face trial on 38 felony counts of corruption.

    Two From Tyson Convicted in Espy Probe
    June 27, 1998
    A Tyson Foods Inc. executive was convicted of making illegal gifts to then-agriculture secretary Mike Espy in 1993 and the company's chief Washington lobbyist was found guilty of lying to the FBI and other investigators about the favors.

    Court Reinstates 3 Charges Against Espy
    June 17, 1998
    A federal appeals court reinstated three felony charges accusing former agriculture secretary Mike Espy of violating the Meat Inspection Act of 1907 by taking gifts from two companies he regulated.

    Espy's Former Chief of Staff Sentenced to 27 Months
    March 19, 1998
    The top aide to former agriculture secretary Mike Espy was sentenced to a 27-month prison term for lying about $22,000 he received from two Mississippi individuals who obtained large government farming subsidies.

    Lobbyist's Conviction Thrown Out in Espy Case
    March 4, 1998
    A federal judge in San Francisco has thrown out the conviction of an African American lobbyist who gave gifts to then-Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy in 1993-94, saying the case never should have been brought in California.

    Tyson Foods Admits Illegal Gifts to Espy
    December 30, 1997
    Poultry giant Tyson Foods Inc. pleaded guilty to giving former agriculture secretary Mike Espy $12,000 in illegal gratuities and consented to pay $6 million in fines and costs. Tyson officials agreed to testify at Espy's upcoming trial.

    Espy Pleads Not Guilty, Calls Probe 'Unfair'
    September 11, 1997
    Former agriculture secretary Mike Espy pleaded not guilty to charges that he solicited more than $35,000 in gifts from companies he was supposed to be regulating. Afterward, he vowed to aggressively fight the charges and said, "I have faith and I know that I will prevail."

    Ex-Agriculture Secretary Indicted
    August 28, 1997
    Former agriculture secretary Mike Espy was indicted on charges that he openly and aggressively solicited $35,458 worth of gifts from companies he was supposed to be regulating, virtually from the day President Clinton picked him for the job.

    Firm Guilty of Unlawful Gifts to Espy
    September 25, 1996
    A federal jury convicted a major California agricultural cooperative of illegally showering former agriculture secretary Mike Espy with nearly $6,000 in gifts, including meals at fancy restaurants and an all-expenses paid trip for him and his girlfriend to the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York.

    Widening of Espy Probe Is Criticized as Excessive
    February 9, 1995
    In the five months that he has headed a criminal investigation of former agriculture secretary Mike Espy, Donald C. Smaltz has become one of the most controversial independent counsels since the first one was appointed 16 years ago.

    Agriculture Secretary Espy Resigns
    October 4, 1994
    Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy, under investigation for improper acceptance of gifts, resigned yesterday under pressure from the White House. He cited his need to "overcome the challenge to my good name."

    The Promise and the Puzzle of Mike Espy
    September 28, 1994
    Bill Clinton made Mike Espy the first African American and the first son of the Deep South to be named agriculture secretary. Now the question is whether Espy's relationship with Clinton is strong enough to save him from a string of ethical missteps, including wrongly billed expenses, questionable government trips and the acceptance of gifts from meat and poultry producers.

    Los Angeles Attorney Chosen to Head Investigation of Espy
    September 10, 1994
    A federal panel named Los Angeles lawyer Donald C. Smaltz as independent counsel to investigate whether Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy accepted gifts from companies regulated by his department.

    U.S. Seeks Probe of Secretary Espy
    August 10, 1994
    The Justice Department has asked an appellate panel to appoint an independent counsel to investigate whether Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy illegally accepted gifts from the country's largest poultry producer and to determine if his relationship with the company affected oversight of the chicken industry.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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