A federal judge yesterday acquitted the general manager of a Bladensburg construction firm of a charge that he helped give an illegal gift to former D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert H. Campbell. The federal judge ruled that there was no evidence to support a jury's verdict last March that the official was guilty of the offense.
Judge Thomas A. Flannery, however, rejected a plea from the former judge that Flannery also set aside the jury's verdict that found Campbell had accepted the gift, which consisted of moving his household furnishings from one location to another in August 1975.
Flannery scheduled sentencing for June 19 for the former judge, who faces up to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000 on the conviction for accepting an illegal gratuity.
After a seven-week trial, a U.S. District Court jury found the former judge Campbell was innocent of charges that he accepted more than $7,000 in bribes from the construction firm, Excavation Construction Inc. while he was a member of the bench. The jury also acquitted the firm's general manager, Larry A. Campbell (no relation to the former judge), and the firm itself of bribery and conspiracy charges.
But the jury did convict the former judge, Larry Campbell and the construction company of allowing ECI employes to move former judge Campbell's household goods, a service that the government said was worth about $300.
Yesterday, however, Flannery ruled that no evidence was presented at trial that could support the jury's conclusion that Larry Campbell had any role in or knew anything about the move of the judge's belongings. Assistant U.S. Attorney John P. Hume, the chief prosecutor in the case, said yesterday that the government had not decided whether to appeal Flannery's decision. Flannery was not asked to acquit the company of the illegal gratuity charge.
In a three-page memorandum, Flannery noted that the prosecution's key witness, Robert Payne Jenkins, a former employee of Excavation Construction, testified during the trial that he acted on his own when he arranged the move for the former judge and got no instructions from Larry Campbell.There is no evidence in the trial record to show that Larry Campbell participated in carrying out the move, Flannery said.
Flannery rejected former judge Campbell's request for a judgment of acquittal without explanation. The former judge, who did not testify at the trial, contended through his lawyer that he paid the employees for the move.
Flannery also rejected a defense request to question the jurors in the case about alleged irregularities during their deliberations. Flannery also denied a defense request for a new trial on the gratuity charge.