NEW YORK – A federal prosecutor said it was "absurd" to say the government charged a Florida man with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in retaliation for a flood of spam e-mails to President George W. Bush's Web site.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Siegal told U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain on Monday that she should reject arguments that Bush's deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, caused the criminal investigation that led to charges against Robert McAllister.
Siegal said lawyers for McAllister, of Jupiter, Florida, made the "patently absurd argument that the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District is a shield for Karl Rove and has arrested and indicted their client in some sort of vindictive retaliation."
The prosecutor told the judge the government will submit written arguments explaining why she should not hold a hearing to determine if the government had proper motives to obtain a search warrant in the case.
McAllister's lawyer Gerald L. Shargel said Monday he plans to try to call Rove as a witness in the case.
"It's going to largely depend on certain rulings of the court," he said. "Obviously, if we have the opportunity to do it, we will do it."
In court papers, Shargel sought to dismiss the indictment against McAllister, who was accused of committing fraud while he was chief executive officer and president of Millennium National Events Inc., an events promotion company.
Shargel said McAllister, 49, merged his consulting firm in 2000 with Millennium, where he was responsible for financial management, including raising capital and trying to grow the company through acquisitions.
The lawyer said his client's efforts were "thwarted by the wrongful conduct of stock promoters, who unbeknownst to Mr. McAllister at the time undermined the financial well-being of the company."
He said McAllister was wrongfully targeted by federal law enforcement because a stock promoter sent unsolicited e-mails to subscribers of the presidential Web site, georgewbush.com.
Shargel said Rove directed that a criminal investigation begin.
"Mr. Rove used his power and influence at the White House to seek quick punishment of Millennium, and therefore also Robert McAllister, for daring to spam the president's personal Web site," Shargel said.
The government says McAllister and Millennium tried to inflate the price of the company's stock by "spreading false and misleading information regarding the company's business" via e-mails to potential investors. McAllister could face up to five years in prison if convicted.
In a story published in Sunday's editions of the Daily News, McAllister recalled hearing personally from Rove.
"His voice was chilling," McAllister told the newspaper. "He says, 'Look, I got a Web site here called georgewbush.com and I got 900 subscribers and every one of them is getting e-mail from you.' He said, 'You gotta stop this right here and now. You've got to leave my subscribers alone."'
The newspaper reported that White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Rove "vaguely remembered" the e-mail onslaught but could not recall whether he or any other White House worker contacted the Department of Justice.
In a statement filed in the case, McAllister said he was in a West Palm Beach, Fla., movie theater with his young daughter on Aug. 24, 2005, when federal agents arrested him, removing him in handcuffs.