Taking a look at what's next for Herenton - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Taking a look at what's next for Herenton

Willie Herenton Willie Herenton

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton's inner circle doesn't want to jeopardize his defense, and those prosecuting don't want to ruin their case against him. But a source told Action News 5 Wednesday what could come next in the case.

According to our source, if it wasn't for his letter, the public would not officially know that the FBI had an eye on Herenton.

Herenton wrote to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday to defend a target letter from the feds claiming he used his mayoral post to benefit from the sale of this Greyhound Bus Station land downtown.

While the federal government cannot comment on an ongoing investigation, Herenton did. His letter calls the federal target a rogue investigation, aimed at undermining his Congressional campaign. Herenton says then-City Attorney Elbert Jefferson found no conflict of interest in his "private" land deal.

Action News 5's source says the target letter may signal the FBI investigation of Herenton is complete. When that happens, the target of the investigation is given a specific date to come before investigators to defend any allegations.

A good defense attorney, our source says, usually advises the client not to appear before investigators. If Herenton does not show up, the grand jury can convene at any time after the date of his scheduled appearance. The grand jury would either indict or not indict.

Action News 5's source says one of two things could happen at that point: the local U.S. Attorney's Office could either proceed under Acting U.S. Attorney Lawrence Laurenzi, or wait for Holder to appoint Laurenzi's successor.

If Laurenzi prosecutes, our source says an indictment could come down before the end of the year. But Laurenzi's successor doesn't have to prosecute at all.

Meanwhile, former City Attorney Jefferson is scheduled to appear before a federal grand jury to testify Thursday morning.


CORRECTION: Earlier today, we erroneously reported that  Former Memphis City Attorney Elbert Jefferson, attorney Robert Spence and special assistant Pete Aviotti have received target letters from federal investigators.

The men have not received target letters.  Action News 5 regrets this error.

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