The Barometer hears this phrase over and over again. Certainly there are folks who have not been convicted of crimes who are still charged with crimes. The biggie is lying to the FBI. Most people mistakenly state that Martha Stewart went to prison for insider trading. She did not. She did not commit the crime of insider trading, i.e., securities fraud. She was convicted of lying about what she had done, which was take a tip from a broker who shared information about what another one of his clients was doing. Altering phone logs and asking the young fellow to stick with a story was Ms. Stewart’s process crime.
Michael Flynn, following a distinguished military career, was not charged with collusion, spying, or foolhardy contact with a foreign power. He was chargedwith and has entered a guilty plea to lying to the FBI (although the continual postponement of his sentencing and emerging details on the notes of federal agents in their interviews with him indicate that they were uncertain about whether he lied). Another process crime.
James A. Wolfe, a long-term Senate staffer with the Senate Intelligence Committee, had a three-year relationship with New York Times reporter, Ali Watkins. Using an encrypted message system, Mr. Wolfe had passed information to her and other reporters about the activities of the Senate Intelligence Committee, including information about those who had been issued subpoenas to appear before that committee. That same message system was used to communicate with three other reporters. When asked about his contacts with reporters, Mr. Wolfe was not forthcoming. He was not charged with spying, leaking, or foolhardy use of electronic messaging (not yet a crime, but you think folks would catch on about the whole electronic messaging body of risk) The FBI has charged him with lying in its interviews, and his trial is forthcoming. Another process crime.
Here’s a safety tip. As bumbling as the FBI may appear in current reports, should agents come calling, just face up to things and get a good lawyer or tell them the truth. Lying is still lying, and a process crime means that the individual was not yet ready to ‘fess up to something that may not have been a crime. Martha Stewart probably would have paid a $10,000 civil fine and moved along. Mr. Wolfe faced employment sanctions, but not a crime. He was disclosing subpoena information, not national intelligence.
A process crime means that you did not want to tell the story that is embarrassing, could cost you your job, or reputation. Those are some tough consequences to face, but they do not get your prosecuted for a crime, as long as the simple quality of forthrightness emerges. Process crimes still constitute a criminal record.