Wednesday, April 24, 2013

strongarm

The US justice department is going after Lance Armstrong yet again, this time laying out a case under the False Claims Act because Armstrong may have unjustly enriched himself due to profits made as a result of doping claims.

I'm not condoning Armstrong's actions but I am sick of the continuous actions taken by US agencies ranging from the US Anti-Doping Agency to federal prosecutors because the fixation on Armstrong to the tune of millions of dollars seems to be more about their anger at him rather than the crimes committed.  And as for the crimes, I am not comfortable with the agencies accusing him of conspiracy, defrauding the government, drug trafficking, money laundering and witness tampering but not following through with prosecution.  It is almost as though the government is using their authority to attack his reputation without providing a venue where he can face his accusers, and I am fast losing respect for a justice department that is politically motivated.

But then, I would be even unhappier if the US government prosecutes him because, well, have you seen the federal deficit?  When the country is cutting back on funding for education, research, emergency services and national security, I have a hard time getting behind a case regarding crimes that have mostly occurred in Europe and committed by an undeserving celebrity athlete.

I haven't been able to find out the cost so far of investigating Armstrong (if only we had those resources for investigating all of those banks that cost us billions of dollars) but I do have a few numbers for the case of Roger Clemens, who, by virtue of being a baseball player, at least confined his "crimes" to the United States.

Number of federal agents who investigated the Clemens case: 103 law officers and 5 attorneys
Number of reports produced: 229
Number of investigation locations in the US, Puerto Rico and Germany: 72
Cost of investigation: US$6 million
Result of prosecution: a 2 year old indictment and 1 mistrial for prosecutorial misconduct
Personal cost to Clemens: similar to the case with Armstrong, Clemens' finances were significantly reduced and his reputation was ruined during the long attack which may have been the real goal.

Now let's take a look at fellow baseball player Barry Bonds:
Cost of investigation: US$55 million
Result of prosecution: guilty on the felony charge of obstructing justice, mistrial on three perjury charges.  Sentenced to 30 days of house arrest, two years of probation and 250 hours of community service; sentence delayed pending an appeal.

Just imagine how many homes we could have rebuilt in New Orleans with US$55 million instead of using the taxpayer funding to chase after a baseball player.  And what's that about a national deficit?

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