Court ends Bangor man’s legal saga in phone-jamming case

Posted May 26, 2009, at 8:09 p.m.

The U.S. Justice Department’s prosecution of former GOP political organizer James Tobin of Bangor came to an end last week, more than 6½ years after a phone-jamming incident during the November 2002 election in New Hampshire led to charges against him in two states.

The case formally ended Thursday when a mandate from the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston dismissing the latest appeal by federal prosecutors was filed in U.S. District Court in Portland.

Tobin, 48, was indicted in October by a federal grand jury in Portland on charges of lying to the FBI during an interview on Oct. 14, 2003, about the phone jamming. Those charges were brought just days before the statute of limitations would have prevented prosecutors from making them and nearly three years after Tobin was vindicated on far more serious charges in New Hampshire.

U.S. District Judge George Z. Singal in February dismissed the Maine charges on the basis of vindictive prosecution. Federal prosecutors on March 17 appealed Singal’s decision but on May 1 filed a motion to dismiss it.

“The government, with the concurrence of a duly-authorized deputy solicitor general, ultimately decided not to pursue the appeal,” stated the motion to dismiss the appeal, which was signed by Andrew Levchuk, the lead federal prosecutor in the Tobin cases.

Efforts to reach Levchuk in the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Attempts to reach Tobin through his attorneys also were unsuccessful. Williams and Connolly, the Washington, D.C., law firm representing him, has a strict policy against talking to reporters.

Tobin’s legal fees in New Hampshire were paid by the Republican National Committee until his conviction in 2005. Since then, he has been responsible for his own legal fees, according to sources familiar with the case.

Tobin’s legal saga began on Election Day in 2002, when the phone lines for New Hampshire Democrats’ get-out-the-vote effort were jammed for a brief time. Tobin was convicted in December 2005 by a federal jury in Concord, N.H., of being part of a conspiracy to jam the phone lines. He was acquitted on the more serious charge of violating residents’ constitutional right to vote.

The 1st Circuit overturned his conviction in 2007. It found that the telephone harassment statute was not a good fit for what Tobin had been convicted of doing.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Tobin conspired in October 2002 with Charles “Chuck” McGee, then-executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party, and Allen Raymond, a GOP campaign consultant based near Washington, D.C., to make repeated hang-up phone calls to Democratic campaign offices around the state and the office of the Manchester, N.H., firefighters union. Their intent, according to federal prosecutors, was to keep people seeking rides to the polls on Nov. 5, 2002, from getting through to volunteers.

McGee and Raymond both testified against Tobin. Both pleaded guilty to charges of telephone harassment. McGee served seven months in federal prison. Raymond served three months.

The charges filed against Tobin in Maine alleged that he lied when he told the FBI that it was McGee’s idea to contact Raymond for assistance in executing the plan. Tobin also lied, according to the indictment, when he told the FBI that Raymond and McGee already had spoken when Tobin talked with Raymond about the plan.

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