White-Collar Crime

Lawyer gave cash to bankruptcy trustee as thank-you, not bribe, defense says; federal jury acquits

No one disputed that a Florida personal injury attorney gave a bankruptcy trustee $3,000 cash in an envelope that was wrapped in a newspaper.

But Vincent C. Rowley did so as a thank-you for a case referral that had nothing to do with bankruptcy, not in an attempt to bribe the trustee, his defense counsel argued at trial. The result was his acquittal Monday in federal court in Tampa on charges of bribery and lying to the FBI, reports the Tampa Tribune.

“We’re very thankful for the jury’s verdict,” said defense attorney John Fitzgibbons. “It ends a seven-year ordeal for Mr. Rowley and his family. … We felt that the evidence that the payment of money to the … trustee had nothing to do with any official acts in her capacity as a public official.”

An earlier Tampa Tribune article provides additional details about the case. It says Rowley, who practices in St. Petersburg, had developed a specialty of litigating personal injury cases on behalf of individuals involved in Chapter 7 bankruptcy cases.

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