By New Times
By Connor Radnovich
By Robrt L. Pela and Amy Silverman
By Ray Stern
By Keegan Hamilton
By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
The feds did not introduce the "smoking gun" spreadsheet or the testimony of Ron Vincellette or Marjorie Kendall.
Instead, they lazily relied upon the words of a single witness, Benjamin Kimbrough, to convict Leckie.
And Kimbrough, a Coopers & Lybrand manager, was an admitted perjurer.
For corroborating evidence, the feds relied upon cellular-phone records that showed Leckie calling Yeoman after every confidential Project SLIM selection-committee meeting.
But that evidence was circumstantial.
Leckie's lawyers could not deny that Leckie and Yeoman talked at highly suspicious intervals, but they said there was no proof of what the two discussed.
Leckie insisted on the witness stand that he and Yeoman only talked about fund-raising dinners for Governor Symington, not bid-rigging.
The feds were so arrogant that they did not counter this remarkable argument by Leckie. The prosecutors apparently thought it was enough simply to look at the jury and raise their skeptical federal eyebrows.
If the feds hadn't been so shiftless, they could have made Leckie eat his denial. They could have caught him lying under oath.
According to state records, Leckie turned in expense reports for all his 1991 cell-phone activity. Leckie personally circled all of his calls related to campaign fund-raising. He identified those discussions as private. He made certain the state did not pay for those calls.
In 1991, Leckie did not identify his phone calls to Yeoman after Project SLIM meetings as conversations related to fund-raising for Governor Symington.
Six years later, in court, Leckie changed his story.
The federal prosecutors never bothered to confront Leckie with his own phone records.
Nor did they tell the jury that Coopers & Lybrand lowered Governor Symington's personal debt to the firm by hundreds of thousands of dollars during the time that Leckie was slipping the accountants the Project SLIM contract.
As the governor's personal accountant on questionable financial statements, Yeoman was a key player in the Justice Department's prosecution of Symington in yet another courtroom.
With the Project SLIM case, the feds had leverage to twist Yeoman against Symington.
But with the accountant dead, this opportunity evaporated, and the feds apparently lost interest in Project SLIM.
The Justice Department blew it. Federal prosecutors relied upon Yeoman's damning confession to get the job done. But when the judge sealed Yeoman's signed statement, the feds were not prepared to try the case.
George Leckie got away with the largest case of white-collar fraud in the history of state government.