Now we'll get to re-live the sordid tale, says the Houston Chronicle ("New trial in VitaPro bribery case ordered," Aug. 28), since the Fifth Circuit upheld an order by a Houston district judge for a new trial. Reported the paper:
In 2001, a federal jury found that Barry paid two $10,000 bribes to Collins for pushing a no-bid contract with VitaPro to feed its product to Texas prisoners. At the time, Collins was executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Barry owns VitaPro, the maker of a soy-based meat alternative.I'd not begun Grits yet when VitaPro came down the first time around, but given the confluence of subjects I'm interested in, you can bet I'll be paying attention to the retrial.
The pair were convicted on bribery, conspiracy and money-laundering charges during a tumultuous trial that featured Patrick Graham, a government informant who was a key witness in the prosecution of former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and former Houston Mayor Fred Hofheinz on corruption charges.
In September 2005, Hughes threw out the guilty verdicts, finding that Graham lied. In its July decision, the 5th Circuit said: "The jury was presented with substantial evidence of Graham's poor character and was made aware of the contradictions in his testimony, but still the jury found that the government had proven Collins and Barry guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. ... The district court erred in substituting its own judgment for that of the jury to conclude that Graham's testimony should be disregarded."