News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. April 15, 2011: The Jamaican-born owner of the New York-based Carib News paper yesterday pleaded guilty to lying to congress before a D.C. court judge, who ordered him to be sentenced on July 22nd.
Seventy-three-year-old Karl B. Rodney admitted in a plea deal before Judge Emmet G. Sullivan that as founder of the related, Carib News Foundation, he misled several congressional staff about who paid for the travel expenses on the Private Sponsor Travel Certification Form submitted to the Ethics Committee in connection with the 12th Annual Caribbean Multi-National Business Conference held in Antigua and Barbuda from November 8-11, 2007. The plea deal with federal prosecutors spares his wife, Faye Rodney, from any prosecution.
As over two dozen family and friends looked on in the federal court room, a demure-looking Rodney, standing between his two attorneys, Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree Jr. and Devereaux Cannick of Aiello & Cannick in Maspeth, N.Y., blamed a “lapse of judgment.” He told the judge at the end of a 45-minute hearing, “I regret that deeply.”
Rodney is the only person to have been charged in the scandal, which prompted an ethics inquiry of several lawmakers including Congressman Charles Rangel. In March 2010, Rangel stepped aside as Ways and Means Chair. In November 2010, the Ethics Committee found Rangel guilty of 11 counts of violating House ethics rules, and on December 2nd, the full House approved a sanction of censure against Rangel.
According to court documents, in 2007, the House of Representatives modified its travel rules to require, among other things, that all privately-funded travel by members of Congress be pre-approved by the House of Representatives Committee on Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics Committee.) The pre-approval process required the private sponsor to submit a Private Sponsor Travel Certification Form disclosing, among other things, the source of funding for the member’s trip, including transportation, lodging and meals.
Court documents further claim that, in connection with the 2007 conference, Rodney provided round-trip airfare, hotels and meals for the members attending the conference using money and in-kind support provided by the foreign host country and a private corporation. Under the House of Representatives’ travel rules, Rodney was required to disclose on the Private Sponsor Travel Certification Form any entity contributing funds or in-kind support towards the members’ trip. Instead of listing the foreign host country and private corporation on the certification form that he submitted, Rodney falsely stated that Carib News Foundation was the only entity that paid for the members’ travel and that the foundation had not accepted funds from any other source earmarked for that purpose.
He is scheduled to be sentenced July 22 by Judge Sullivan. The offense of making a false statement carries a penalty fine of $250,000, a maximum of five years in jail and three years of supervised release.