Tabitha Goodner has become the ninth defendant in the $12 million bid-rigging case against contractor Bobby Ferguson, a close friend of Detroit’s ex-Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Back in July of 2009, Ms. Goodner allegedly gave misleading and incomplete statements to federal investigators despite knowing that the targets of the investigation had committed mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Accordingly, her federal indictment charged her with misprision of felony. Misprision is when a person has knowledge of the actual commission of a felony but does not make such knowledge known to the authorities. The charge carries penalties that include fines and up to three years in prison.
Ms. Goodner’s indictment comes seven months after Ferguson and several other were indicted in a bid-rigging case in which they allegedly falsified documents, illegally laundered proceeds, and dumped demolition debris in connection with a federally funded public housing development. Ferguson’s indictment charged him with following crimes: fraud, monely laundering, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to defraud.
According to the court record Ms. Goodner participated in the bid-rigging by preparing a false independent auditor’s report by fraudulently altering information on the document at Ferguson’s command. Between the court record and Ms. Goodner’s position as a manager of Ferguson’s company, probable cause apparently existed to indict her for the statements she made during the investigation in 2009.
It isn’t uncommon for witnesses in a white collar criminal case to become targets and be charged with “cover up” crimes like misprision of felony, obstruction of justice or false statements. Inherent to many white collar crimes is a plan to cover up such crimes. This can include lying to investigators, providing false affidavits, or misleading investigators. Individuals often start off as mere witnesses in an investigation only to end up being targets of an indictment for a cover-up crime.
Ms. Goodner merely provided what was alleged to be “misleading and incomplete” statements to investigators and is now facing up to three years in prison for those statements. It is therefore imperative that witnesses, and targets alike, understand the various cover-up crimes whenever they participate as a witness in a federal investigation.
The author of this blog is Erich Ferrari, an attorney specializing in Federal Criminal Defense matters. If you have any questions please contact him at 202-280-6370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.