WASHINGTON, USA -- A leading Caribbean newspaper publisher and philanthropist,
who for years arranged for members of the US Congress to attend business
conferences in the Caribbean, has pleaded guilty to misleading congressional
staff about who paid for the travel expenses.
The US Justice Department said Karl B Rodney, who is also the chief executive
officer of the weekly New York Carib News newspaper and its foundation, pleaded
guilty to the charge in the US District Court for the District of Columbia.
Rodney, 73, is the only person to have been charged in the scandal, which
prompted an ethics inquiry of several lawmakers, said Assistant US Attorney
General, Lanny A Breuer.
The Justice Department said that Judge Emmet G Sullivan will now sentence him on
Rodney faces a maximum of five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine on the
false statement charge.
Breuer said Rodney, through the Carib News foundation and Carib News, organised
an annual conference for more than a decade in the Caribbean, called the Annual
Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference. Many of the conferences have been
attended by members of Congress, he said.
In 2007, the House of Representatives modified its travel rules to require,
among other things, that all privately-funded travel by members of Congress be
pre-approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official
Conduct (Ethics Committee.)
The pre-approval process required the private sponsor to submit a Private
Sponsor Travel Certification Form disclosing, among other things, the source of
funding for the member's trip, including transportation, lodging and meals.
"In pleading guilty, Rodney admitted that he made false statements on the
Private Sponsor Travel Certification Form submitted to the Ethics Committee in
connection with the 12th Annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference
held in Antigua and Barbuda from November 8-11, 2007," the Justice Department
It said Rodney acknowledged several times in court on Thursday that he was
guilty of the crime of false statements.
At the end of the 45-minute hearing, he blamed a "lapse of judgment" and said,
"I regret that deeply," the Justice Department said.
According to court documents, in connection with the 2007 conference, "Rodney
provided round-trip airfare, hotels and meals for the members attending the
conference, using money and in-kind support provided by the foreign host country
and a private corporation.
"Instead of listing the foreign host country and private corporation on the
certification form that he submitted, Rodney falsely stated that Carib News
Foundation was the only entity that paid for the members' travel and that the
foundation had not accepted funds from any other source earmarked for that
purpose," it said.
According to the House Ethics Committee's initial inquiry, money from several
major corporations, including American Airlines, AT&T and Verizon, paid for at
least six lawmakers to go on the Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008, "but Rodney
failed to disclose their involvement,"
As a result of Rodney's actions, "the public was denied the right to know the
true source of financial support for travel by Members to the Conferences,"
prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
In a letter, dated March 2009 and addressed to the Office of Congressional
Ethics, lawyers for Rodney described him as a "pillar of the Caribbean American
"It is clear that it has always been our clients'; intention to complete all of
the necessary paperwork, including the House's Private Sponsor Certification
Form, accurately and honestly," wrote the lawyers, Joel Cohen and Danielle
Court documents do not show that Faye Rodney or Louis has been charged.
Five members of the Congressional Black Caucus were cleared by the Ethics
Committee because the committee said they "did not knowingly violate the House's
Code of Official Conduct."
But the committee admonished a sixth lawmaker, veteran Harlem Democratic
Congressman Charles Rangel, because it said "Rangel's staff knew corporations
had contributed money for the conferences."
The committee said it did not have sufficient evidence that Rangel was aware of
what his staff knew.
Psychiatrist Discusses Catherine Zeta-Jones' Bipolar Disorder
Catherine Zeta Jones made headlines yesterday with a simple announcement that
she was getting treated for Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar Disorder affects about 6 million Americans, and its primary
characteristic is depression. Hollyscoop talked to famed psychiatrist Dr.
Charles Sophy, and he shed some light on how Jones will receive treatment.
"[Bipolar Disorder] is treated with a combination of a good diagnosis and
medication and therapy," Dr. Sophy told Hollyscoop.
He added that the goal of treatment is "getting it into remission, which
translates to mood stability."
Now that her husband has officially beaten cancer, we're hoping achieving that
stability will be easier for Catherine.
Dr. Sophy also explained that Bipolar Disorder is genetic, and that although
she's been under a great deal of stress, stress isn't what caused it.
"Stress brings it out, but it doesn't cause it," Dr. Sophy told us. "Bipolar is
something you are born with."
Catherine was reportedly receiving treatment at Connecticut's Silver City
Hospital, but has since checked out. Her rep says this week she'll be working on
her two upcoming films. Here's hoping Catherine gets all the help she needs so
we can see her shine on the silver screen!
Alleged murderer released before extradition
The Ministry of Justice denied that an alleged fugitive was allowed to go free
because of a dispute between the Ministry and the Office of the Director of
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ordered the immediate release of Tony Vincent
Ashman, 27, who had been in custody for more than 60 days since he waived his
right to an extradition hearing.
He was not held longer than the time prescribed by the law because the Ministry
did not sign the documents for him to be extradited.
But the justice ministry contends that it did not sign the authority to proceed
because did not receive the documents from the British Government.
The justice ministry said, the British authorities requested the Jamaican
authorities to issue a provisional warrant for Ashman's arrest pending the
submission of authenticated documents for his extradition.
The Ministry noted that Justice Minister Dorothy Lightbourne is prepared to sign
the authority to proceed as soon as she receives the authenticated documents,
provided that they satisfy the requirements of the Extradition Act.
It is alleged that Ashman fatally shot a man at a nightclub in Brixton in 2009
and later fled to Jamaica.
Ashman was captured in August Town, St. Andrew, in November last year, by
members of the Flying Squad during their manhunt for reputed leader of the Dog
Paw Gang, Christopher Linton.