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11 July – LAWFUEL – The law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, Un…

11 July – LAWFUEL – The law News Network – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida; Ricky Langlois, Special Agent in Charge, Environmental Protection Agency; and Robert E. Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, announced today the unsealing of a five (5) count Indictment against defendant, Burtram Johnson. The June 15, 2005 Indictment unsealed today charges Johnson, a land consultant from Malibu, California, with two (2) counts of obstruction of justice, two (2) counts of perjury, and one (1) count of making material false statements to federal agents. Johnson made his initial appearance and was arraigned on these charges earlier today before United States Magistrate Judge Hugh J. Morgan in Key West, Florida. Johnson was released on a $50,000 personal surety bond.

According to the Indictment, a federal grand jury in Key West, Florida was investigating allegations that Jeffrey A. Balch was conducting illegal landfill activities on certain property into Florida Bay. According to the Indictment, Johnson corruptly endeavored to influence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice by knowingly giving false testimony before that grand jury on November 12, 2003 and on June 16, 2004, with the intent to influence, obstruct and impede the due administration of justice.

The Indictment charges that on both these occasions, despite having taking an oath to testify truthfully, Johnson lied to the grand jury regarding when he first learned of the illegal landfill activities of Balch. Johnson stated to the federal investigators and to the grand jury that he was unaware of any illegal fill activities taking place on Balch’s bay front property in Marathon, Florida, prior to being contacted by a United States Army Corp of engineer (“USACE”) representative. In truth , Johnson was aware of the filling activities taking place on Balch’s property in Marathon prior to such contact by a USACE representative.

If convicted, Johnson faces a maximum statutory sentence of ten (10) years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 as to each of the obstruction of justice charges, five (5) years’ imprisonment and a fine of up $250,000 as to each of the perjury charges, and five (5) years imprisonment and a fine of up $250,000 as to the false statement charge.

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney José A. Bonau.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on .

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.