Friday, January 13, 2006

Foti Lawyer Says Plea Was Tough Call

In comments to reporters that lasted longer than the roughly five minute hearing, Foti's attorney Frank Gimbel said his client struggled over the plea.

"This decision was a hard one for Mickey Foti to make because he has enjoyed his time in the Legislature, and he believed he was serving his party and his constituency very well," said Gimbel. "Nonetheless, this case has been going on for years, and what i think the public frequently doesn't understand is that the pendency of criminal charges against a person creates an enormous amount of pressure and anxiety on that person. And this plea was entered into after serious negotiations to move this case to some finality, and that was a significant motivating factor in the decision that my client made to have the proceedings of this day."

Gimbel said reducing the charge to a misdemeanor was important to Foti, "because it does not disqualify him from a number of potential occupational activities."

By pleading to a misdemeanor and avoiding a felony conviction, Foti's lobbying career won't be endangered by a proposed bill to keep convicted felons from becoming lobbyists. Foti's authorization to lobby for Georgia-Pacific was withdrawn last week, but the Ethics Board Web site still lists nine other Foti clients.

See his Ethics Board page

Gimbel also rebuked the notion that Foti is turning on his former colleagues. "In the perfect world anybody who's put in the position where they have to testify against somebody with whom they've had a personal relationship has great reluctance to do that. But in the real world, I think it's fair to say that the resolution of this case was made available to us as a package deal and that's what was reflected in the document filed with the court today.

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