A Miami federal judge under investigation for allegedly using a Washington lawyer as a conduit in a bribery scheme yesterday charged that government officials have engaged in a campaign to discredit him through "gusher-like leaks to the media" about the probe.
"This investigation is replete with instances of over-zealousness, lies, innuendoes, misquotes, inaccuracies and media leaks . . . ," U.S. District Court Judge Alcee L. Hastings said in a prepared statement.
Hastings' statement also made it clear that he believes the government's case is a weak one.
"At the very most you could indict me; you could never convict me," the statement read.
Hastings previously has acknowledged that he is the target of a U.S. investigation looking into allegations that Washington attorney William A. Borders Jr. was the conduit for a $150,000 payoff to Hastings to fix a criminal case.
Hastings made his allegations of government misconduct in a meeting with prosecutors and FBI officials at the Justice Department here yesterday. Hastings said he requested the 40-minute meeting.
Hastings presented the government officials with a 16-page statement outlining his criticisms of the government's handling of the probe. After the meeting with government officials, Hastings gave copies of his statement to reporters.
"I told them that I thought the progress had been slow up to now," Hastings said in a telephone interview. "They did say they were moving as expeditiously as possible."
Last night, friends of Borders held a fund-raiser for his defense at the Foxtrappe, a private club in Northwest Washington. The affair, from which reporters were barred, was organized primarily by friends who attended Spingarn High School with the D. C.-born-and-bred Borders, according to Spottswood Bolling, one of the organizers.
Prosecutors, citing technical reasons, last week arranged for a federal judge in Alexandria to dismiss a bribery-related charge brought against Borders upon his arrest Oct. 9.
Justice prosecutors said in court papers they intend to have a Miami grand jury, which has been hearing evidence in the case, reinstate the charge against Borders. Hastings has not been charged.
In his statement, Hastings questioned the motivation of the government in pursuing the investigation.
"You might know the likelihood is great that a bribery trial might become, in this instance, an unfair political trial tinged with notions of racism," Hastings said. "Whether the government wins or loses, it loses."
Hastings also said "the gusher-like leaks to the media, in my opinion, are deliberate and calculatedly designed to assassinate my character."
Justice Department officials could not be reached yesterday for comment.