Saturday, December 21, 2013

ABSCAM by Aggie Kenny and the movie "AMERICAN HUSTLE"

The film "American Hustle," chronicles a con operation that was  inspired by a real-life FBI sting operation known as Abscam — a conflation of Abdul and scam — in which agents posing as wealthy Arabs with suitcases full of cash tried to bribe public officials. When the dust settled, three New Jersey Democrats — U.S. Sen. Harrison Williams, U.S. Rep. Frank Thompson and Camden Mayor Angelo Errichetti, who was also a state senator — were convicted. 
Aggie Kenny covered several Abscam trials that took place in Brooklyn Federal Court. Numerous tapes were shown at  the trials. Jurors with headphones and the video equipment was an important part of the scene. Juries listened and saw numerous videos of meetings. This illustration below from 1981, is from the last of the 8 major trials in the Abscam sting operation, the case against Senator Harrison Williams. On the screen Harrison is shown accepting a bribe from one of the undercover agents.

Harrison was eventually convicted and below is an illustration of the reading of the verdict by Aggie Kenny

Illustration of jury foreman reading verdict in Senator Harrison Williams' trial by Aggie Kenny

More on the Abscam case from the New York Times

Abscam was the most sweeping undercover investigation of political corruption ever undertaken by the Justice Department - a two-year, multimillion-dollar inquiry that involved scores of agents, secret meetings, phony sheiks, hidden cameras, bribes and a parade of Congressmen.
It sprawled over cities in four states, unfolding in hotel rooms, airport lounges, private houses and even aboard a yacht. It generated dramatic confrontations and scenes of comic relief. And it raised many legal and ethical questions - some still not resolved - over possible entrapment, self-incrimination and anonymous leaks to the press.
But, ultimately, it has led to the downfall of Congressmen and other public officials, as well as lawyers and a supporting cast of shadowy go-betweens whose boasts of influence, pledges of corruption and acceptance of cash bribes were captured on videotape for trial juries and national television audiences. 16 Persons Convicted
The conviction of Senator Harrison A. Williams Jr. of New Jersey on bribery and conspiracy charges Friday night ended the last of eight major trials spawned by the Abscam investigation. The trials have led to the conviction on corruption charges of 16 persons, including six members or former members of the House of Representatives.

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