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U.S. attorneys reprimanded over tapes from Miami doctor's trial

Accusing federal prosecutors of knowingly and repeatedly violating ethical guidelines in a high-profile narcotics trial, a Miami federal judge Thursday reprimanded multiple assistant U.S. attorneys who took part in the case — and fined the federal government more than $600,000.

U.S. District Judge Alan Gold's harshly critical 50-page order takes the federal government to task for acting deceptively and "in bad faith" in the case of Miami Beach doctor Ali Shaygan, who was acquitted last month of 141 counts of illegally prescribing painkillers.

The $601,795 fine will be paid to Shaygan as reimbursement for much of his legal fees and costs. Gold formally reprimanded prosecutors Sean Cronin, Karen Gilbert and Andrea Hoffman and said he would send a copy of the order to the Florida Bar for its review.

While prosecuting Shaygan, the U.S. attorney's office began a secret, undisclosed side investigation of Shaygan's legal team, citing a suspicion of witness tampering on the part of the defense.

No evidence surfaced that the defense team was manipulating witnesses. On the contrary, defense attorneys rejected bribery invitations floated on tape from government informants.

"I'm doing real, real, real bad with money, you know what I'm saying?" witness Carlos Vento says on one tape, according to court documents.

To read the complete article, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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