The prosecution of former Jack Kevorkian attorney Geoffrey Fieger over alleged campaign finance violations is politically motivated, Fieger's lawyer said Tuesday.
Fieger, who is accused of submitting $127,000 in illegal contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of fellow Democrat John Edwards, is being singled out because of the "many enemies" he's made, Gerry Spence said during a news conference at Fieger's law office.
Fieger on Tuesday accused Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- who announced his resignation on Monday -- and Karl Rove, the president's chief political strategist, of "turning the U.S. Department of Justice into a political arm of the Republican Party."
Fieger accused U.S. Attorney Stephen Murphy of intimidating, harassing and threatening his employees by having investigators ask how they voted and to which candidates they donated.
"I don't think I am overstating when I say we are now in a McCarthy era," Fieger said.
Gina Balaya, a Murphy spokeswoman, did not comment Tuesday morning but said her office would make a statement in the afternoon.
Fieger was expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Detroit.
The indictment claims Fieger, 56, of Bloomfield Hills, and his law partner Vernon (Ven) Johnson, 45, of Birmingham, recruited 60 people, known as straw donors, to make contributions in the then-maximum allowable amount of $2,000 per donor to the campaign of Edwards, a former trial lawyer. The contributions actually came from Fieger's firm, the indictment says.
The 10-count indictment was returned last week and unsealed Friday.
The U.S. attorney's office in Detroit said that campaign officials for Edwards, then a U.S. senator, weren't aware of the alleged actions, and that Edwards and his campaign staff cooperated fully with the investigation.
Fieger has maintained he had nothing to do with his staff's financial support for Edwards.
Federal agents raided his Southfield offices on Nov. 30, 2005, taking payroll and other financial documents, as well as ticket stubs for a fundraiser for Edwards and other campaign materials.
Fieger and Johnson are charged with conspiracy, causing the Edwards campaign to unwittingly make false statements, making illegal campaign contributions in another's name and making illegal campaign contributions from a corporation.
If convicted, each charge of conspiracy, false statements and illegal campaign contributions carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Obstruction of justice is punishable by up to 10 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine.
Steven Fishman, an attorney representing Johnson, has said his client hasn't done anything wrong.