No indictment for Herenton as grand jury wraps - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

No indictment for Herenton as grand jury wraps

Willie Herenton Willie Herenton

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The grand jury investigating former Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton on public corruption accusations wrapped up Wednesday without handing down an indictment.

The case centered on whether or not the former mayor profited from his position when he bought and sold an option on the downtown Greyhound Bus Station land for $91,000

Wednesday, Herenton's attorney, Robert Spence, said it's been a long road.

"The fact that the end might be in sight for my client has been very encouraging," Spece said.

Spence knew the U.S. Attorney's Office planned to cancel the grand jury's special hearing Tuesday.  He confirmed discussions took place before that, but would not share details.

"I'd rather not," he said. "Those were private discussions between me and the U.S. Attorneys."

Spence laughed when asked if speculation that Herenton was not indicted had something to do with good connections.

"I can assure you that no one who I dealt with in the federal government was concerned about any connection that the mayor might have," he said.

The government's case seemed to unravel due to outside influences.  The Supreme Court is reviewing the Honest Services Law, the crux of the Herenton investigation.  It was used to convict other public officials like John Ford, and requires public servants honestly serve citizens.
"There is some chance that because it is so vague that it will be struck down as unconstitutional," Spence said.

Spence said it's not for him to judge if eight years and no indictment was a reasonable expenditure.

"But I think it says something about the way that person carries on their life, because I would imagine that any citizen who's investigated that highly, that closely, over an eight-year-period of time, there might be something," he said.

Spence called Herenton a strong man who weathered the storm.

"He's going to close this chapter, move on to the next, and I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot from him over the next couple of months," he said.

While it appears unlikely the U.S. Attorney's Office will continue to pursue this case, prosecutors could hand off the case to another jury or scrap it altogether.

We may never know, as the grand jury is supposed to function in secret.

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