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William Briggs gets federal judge to give Venable’s client, Magic Johnson, a pass on testifying in fraud case

October 5, 2017

Venable client Earvin "Magic" Johnson will not be called to testify as a witness in an upcoming federal fraud trial in Spokane, thanks to his attorney, William Briggs. According to an article in The Spokesman-Review on October 5, 2017, Johnson had been subpoenaed to appear at a trial against the money men behind a 2012 project that would have paid Johnson $750,000 to attend a celebrity golf tournament at the Coeur d'Alene Resort, followed by a concert by legendary country music band Alabama. But the funding collapsed and the events never occurred.

"This is nothing more than a transparent attempt to shift the focus from the serious charges pending against Mr. Vassily Thompson to the inevitable media frenzy that would result from Mr. Johnson's appearance in the courtroom," Briggs wrote in a motion last week.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Rice agreed. He ruled Johnson will not have to testify in the fraud case against Vassily Thompson and Derrick Fincher, who both face 17 counts, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

"Mr. Johnson never communicated with any of the organizers, sponsors, guests, or other participants in the tournament about any matter related to his appearance," Briggs said. "Nor does Mr. Johnson have any knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the cancellation of the tournament beyond what he learned—that the event was canceled due to lack of funding."