Steptoe Scores Rare Rule 29 Win in Pennsylvania Federal Court Bribery Trial

(March 27, 2017, Washington, DC) — Today, in the US District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Judge John Jones granted a Rule 29 judgment of acquittal in favor of Richard Ireland, acquitting Mr. Ireland of 79 counts of honest services bribery and money laundering.  This is a final ruling that is not appealable.  In issuing his decision, Judge Jones concluded that no rational jury could have convicted Mr. Ireland based on the evidence presented at trial, even taken in the light most favorable to the government.

Steptoe & Johnson LLP partners Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig, who served as lead defense counsel, commented:  “Justice was done today.  We are grateful for the court’s thoughtful and courageous decision.  Dick Ireland is a good man who can finally put this entire matter behind him.”

The trial began on March 9 in Harrisburg and included testimony from former Pennsylvania treasurer Rob McCord, who Mr. Ireland was accused of bribing.

Today’s outcome is a stunning victory for the Steptoe team as Rule 29 judgments are exceedingly rare in federal criminal cases.  In May 2010, a Steptoe team led by Mr. Weingarten successfully submitted a Rule 29 motion in the US District Court for the District of Maryland in the trial of a former GlaxoSmithKline associate general counsel accused in the off-label promotion of an anti-depressant.

Along with Messrs. Weingarten and Heberlig, the Steptoe White-Collar Criminal Defense team included David Fragale, Bob Ayers, Dwight Draughon, Will Drake, Bruce Bishop and Shawn Davisson.

About Steptoe

Steptoe & Johnson LLP is an international law firm widely recognized for vigorous advocacy in complex litigation and arbitration, successful representation of clients before governmental agencies, and creative and practical advice in guiding business transactions.  The firm has more than 500 lawyers and other professionals in offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Palo Alto, Phoenix and Washington.  For more information, visit