USA v. David Safavian, No. 09-3112 (D.C. Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
A jury found David Safavian, Chief of Staff of the General Services Administration ("GSA"), guilty on four counts of a five-count indictment where his convictions were related to a golf trip he took with Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist, who had asked Safavian for information about two properties the GSA owned. At issue was whether Counts Three and Five should be vacated on the grounds of prosecutorial vindictiveness; whether Counts Two and Five should be vacated on the grounds that the government failed to prove Safavian's false statements to the ethics officer and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI") were materially within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. 1001(a)(1); and whether a new trial should be granted on Count One and Count Three where the district court improperly admitted evidence regarding the cost of the private plane. The court held that so long as Safavian's false statements were capable of influencing the course of the FBI's investigation, those statements were material within the meaning of section 1001(a)(1). The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in presuming vindictiveness on the part of the prosecution or in holding that the government overcame that presumption when it offered two reasons why the addition of Count Five was not vindictive. The court further held that its reasons for rejecting Safavian's arguments pertaining to Counts One, Two, and Three were the same as those of the district court and did not need to repeat them.