The District of Columbia District Judge Trevor McFadden has thrown out all charges against former FSO Paul Guertin.
We’ve previously posted about this case in April 2021 based on the DOJ statement and the indictment. Given the court’s January 24 dismissal of the case, we’ve agreed to the request received for the removal of the blogpost.
“In a landmark ruling for the District of Columbia, District Judge Trevor McFadden has thrown out all charges against C&P client Paul Guertin, a decorated former Foreign Service Officer.
The indictment alleged that Mr. Guertin withheld information on his Standard Form-86 (“SF-86”) during his periodic security clearance review process as part of his State Department employment. The government pursued an unusual and aggressive legal strategy, charging Mr. Guertin with wire fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343) on the theory that he fraudulently obtained his ongoing salary through the alleged omissions. The government also charged him with obstructing an official proceeding—his security clearance review—under 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c).
Calling the government’s argument “tortured semantics,” the Court rejected the government’s “discredited, overbroad use of these statutes,” and dismissed the indictment in its entirety. In so doing, the Court became the first court in the District of Columbia to reject the “salary theory” of wire fraud and the first court anywhere to address the applicability of obstruction statutes to the security clearance process.
The Court did not address Mr. Guertin’s separate motion to dismiss the indictment due to misconduct in the grand jury room by the government through the testimony of its lead case agent, State Department OIG Agent Robin Leipfert. As described in the motion, the government’s grand jury presentation contained highly misleading false statements and material omissions regarding each of the key issues alleged in the indictment. Unfortunately, the grand jury issued its indictment based on this inaccurate picture, causing Mr. Guertin significant reputational harm.
Partner and lead trial counsel Matthew Peed called the ruling “a major victory for our client and an important precedent for stopping federal prosecutorial overreach.” He added, “While Mr. Guertin will not get a chance to prove his innocence in court, we are pleased that this misguided prosecution has come to an end.”