Former Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Bill Hill and former U.S. Attorney Richard Stacy say they’re shocked at Hunter Biden’s “sweetheart deal,” plea agreement in three federal criminal charges.
Delaware’s U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss charged President Joe Biden’s son Hunter on June 20 in federal court with two misdemeanor tax crimes and a felony gun charge. The allegations are that President Joe Biden’s son dodged paying his taxes on $3 million and possessed a Colt Cobra .38 Special revolver in spite of being a drug addict.
That same day, Weiss’ assistant attorney sent a letter to the clerk of the U.S. District Court for Delaware, announcing that Hunter Biden already had agreed to plead guilty to both tax charges and would receive a deferral for the felony gun charge.
Deferrals involve the dismissal of a charge after a defendant has completed a probationary program or adhered to certain terms. Wyoming prosecutors use them to help first-time offenders avoid life-altering felony convictions.
National media outlets have indicated that Hunter Biden likely could avoid jail time under his plea agreement, but the exact terms of the agreement have not yet appeared in the public case file. Each tax evasion misdemeanor is officially punishable by up to one year in jail and $25,000.
The felony gun possession charge, which is slated to be deferred, is punishable by up to 10 years in prison plus fines.
‘A Good Spanking’
Still, getting charged with two misdemeanors for an alleged $3 million tax evasion is a significant oddity.
The mismatch shocked the two seasoned Wyoming legal experts.
“This agreement would have been considered laughable among my colleagues,” said former Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Bill Hill, who served the state’s highest court for two decades from 1998-2018. Hill was Wyoming’s attorney general for four years before that, and he served as a prosecutor in Wyoming’s federal district from 1991-1995.
“That’s a little bit like saying, ‘These are very serious crimes, and we’re going to give you a good spanking,’” said Hill of the agreement.
A Grown Man, In Business
Richard Stacy, Wyoming’s U.S. attorney from 1981-1994, also characterized the agreement as a bizarre “sweetheart deal.”
President Ronald Reagan appointed Stacy to be the top prosecutor of federal crimes in Wyoming. Stacy served as a state assistant Attorney General from 1968-1972, wrote the Wyoming school code of 1969, was an assistant U.S. Attorney from 1972-1975 and worked in private practice from 1975-1981. He also worked as a judge prior to his retirement in 2000.
“If it was an accidental overlooking of paying your taxes, and you were 80 years old and didn’t have a tax advisor, sure we’d do this, if we prosecuted at all,” said Stacy. “But a grown man who’s in business overseas with China and Ukraine, to earn millions of dollars in two years and willfully and intentionally … not pay his taxes — that starts to look like a felony charge, not a misdemeanor.”
The charging document alleges that Hunter Biden, 53, “received” more than $1.5 million in taxable income in 2017 and another $1.5 million in 2018, and “willfully” failed to pay more than $200,000 owed to the IRS in income taxes on the $3 million total.
‘Sweetheart Deal’ Must Survive Judge
Delaware U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika might not accept the plea agreement, Hill said.
Hunter Biden is scheduled to plead guilty July 26.
Judges have the option of rejecting inappropriate or outlandish plea agreements at their discretion.
“It’s a matter of weighing what’s in front of them and saying, ‘This is not appropriate for these offenses. Go back and try again,’” said Hill.
Former President Donald Trump appointed Noreika.
No Escape From This Conflict
Trump also appointed the Delaware federal court’s prosecutor, U.S. Attorney David C. Weiss.
Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo J. Wise has been signing prosecutorial documents in Biden’s case on Weiss’ behalf.
U.S. attorneys have two bosses: the president of the United States and the U.S. attorney general, Stacy told Cowboy State Daily.
“And in this particular year it seems both of them are involved in politics,” he added.
Stacy said there is no mechanism to transfer federal cases like Hunter Biden’s into a state court, to avoid the apparent conflict of interest in this case.
Normally, he added, it isn’t an issue.
“U.S. attorneys are very independent, even of the Department of Justice,” said Stacy, adding that the DOJ under Merrick Garland grows increasingly political.
“Merrick Garland … is a political animal if ever there was one,” Stacy said.
He noted the intensity with which the DOJ is pursuing Donald Trump and called it misaligned with federal prosecutors’ treatment of Hunter Biden.
“I’m not defending Mr. Trump,” said Stacy. “I’m not a fan of his. But there does appear to be a double standard of justice.”
Clair McFarland can be reached at Clair@CowboyStateDaily.com.