Suttons' say government has abused power - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Suttons' say government has abused power

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By Alicia Eakin - bio | email

August 27, 2008

VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - An indicted South Georgia attorney accuses the US Attorney's office of misconduct and vindictive prosecution.

A motion filed this week asks the federal court to dismiss all charges against former Clinch County judge Berrien Sutton and his wife Lisa.

It accuses prosecutors of using Sutton's testimony and information against him, despite a promise of immunity.

"In this case, the government has obtained an indictment by using information from Mr. Sutton from interviews that were based on false representations that he was not a target of investigation and that he would be granted letter immunity and would not have any information provided used against him.  Further, the government violated an express agreement with this Court and counsel for Mr. Sutton and executed a general search which resulted in a wholesale violation of the Fourth Amendment," read the court papers.

The motion also claims prosecutors did not tell the Sutton's or several other plaintiffs that they were targets of the grand jury investigation.

The motions says, "Because the wiretaps and surreptitious recording devices of Judge Blitch's office produced no actionable criminal activity, the government resorted to setting perjury traps to unwary attorneys and others who had been recorded speaking with Judge Blitch.  In doing so, the government violated their own ethical rules and departed from the Department of Justice standards as set forth in the Suttons' Motion to Suppress Statements.  While most of these facts detailed above relate to Judge Blitch and others, the breadth of the government's misconduct demonstrates that the Suttons' are a casualty of the Government's blind, myopic pursuit of Judge Blitch."

Sutton claims they all believed they were testifying as part of the investigation into former Superior Court Judge Brooks Blitch. 

It claims the government was also abusive towards Blitch, Associate Magistrate Judge Linda Peterson, Sheriff Winston Peterson, former court clerk Danny Lecesse, former deputy Sheriff Sissy Suggs, Cordele Public Defender Tim Eidson, and attorneys George McCraine and Robert Sumner.

The Suttons' were indicted in July on charges of mail fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

The Suttons' are also asking for the grand jury transcripts to be released in case the motion to dismiss is not granted.