A lawyer representing Steven Reed, who was indicted on federal charges along with his father, longtime former 22nd Judicial District Attorney Walter Reed, criticized prosecutors late Thursday for making the younger Reed a co-defendant in the sprawling case.
The lawyer, W. Glenn Burns, suggested that prosecutors’ inclusion of Steven Reed in the indictment — which alleges the Reeds conspired to convert Walter Reed’s campaign account into personal cash — was a strategem aimed at making the elder Reed consider a plea deal rather than a decision prosecutors made on the merits.
“It is a tragedy when the government includes relatives of criminal targets to place pressure on the target,” Burns said. “We see it more and more, wives and children charged with crimes they did not, and sometimes, could not commit.”
Burns also took issue with some of the allegations made about Steven Reed in the indictment -- in particular, that he was overpaid for work he did helping set up fund-raisers for his father.
The indictment doesn’t say precisely how much prosecutors believe Walter Reed’s campaign overpaid for those services, and Burns’ statement suggests that’s a subjective point and a weakness in the case.
“How can the government determine the value of someone’s creativity and work?” Burns asked. He added: “Steven Reed looks forward to defending the facts and hopes the public, his friends and family realize that these are just allegations against him and his father. There is another side to this story.”
The statement from Steven Reed’s attorney came a few hours after Walter Reed’s lawyer, Rick Simmons, took the unusual step of holding a press conference after his client was indicted.
Like Burns, Simmons sought to highlight weaknesses in the government’s case, saying that there was no allegation that Walter Reed ever sold his office.
Simmons also underscored that the campaign money Reed is alleged to have misused was given to him voluntarily by donors; it was not taxpayer money.
And Simmons also said that even by the government’s own accounting, Reed paid roughly 90 percent of the federal income taxes he owed. If the government disagreed with Reed’s accounting, it should have pursued a civil claim against him rather than a civil one, Simmons argued.
Follow Gordon Russell on Twitter @gordonrussell1.