A Miami federal judge disclosed yesterday that he would not appear before a federal grand jury in Miami that is investigating allegations that he used a Washington lawyer as a conduit in a bribery scheme to fix a criminal case.
U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings said his attorneys advised him not to accept the government's invitation to appear because grand jury hearings are secret proceedings controlled by prosecutors.
The judge's decision was disclosed in a letter he gave prosecutors Monday during a meeting at the Justice Department. Hastings also made a copy of his letter available to The Washington Post.
As a target of the investigation, Hastings cannot be forced to testify before the grand jury, which is an investigative body that usually does not hear testimony from potential defendants. However, public officials under investigation by a grand jury are given an opportunity to testify, a Justice Department spokesman said.
Hastings also accused the government of attempting to discredit him through leaks to the media. A Justice Department spokesman has declined to comment on this complaint.
The grand jury is investigating allegations that Washington attorney William A. Borders Jr. was the conduit for a $150,000 payoff to Hastings to win reduced sentences for two brothers convicted and sentenced by Hastings.