Judge lets convicted Hunter Biden business partner freely roam globe while awaiting sentencing
Federal judge's lenient treatment for Devon Archer renews debate about a dual system of justice, as Jan. 6 and Russia defendants faced travel restrictions.
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
From Paul Manafort to the Jan. 6 defendants, federal prosecutors and courts routinely seize passports and impose travel restrictions on those charged with or convicted of crimes to eliminate any flight risk.
But those same standards have not been applied to convicted defendant Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's longtime business partner and collaborator at the allegedly corrupt Ukrainian gas firm Burisma Holdings.
Court records reviewed by Just the News show the trial judge in Archer's case has allowed the Biden buddy to take more than three dozen global trips since he was indicted in 2016 and convicted two years later for fleecing an Indian tribe.
More than half of those trips — which span from Communist China to Turks and Caicos — have come since a jury convicted Archer on two felony counts of securities fraud in the summer of 2018.
The permission for Archer's globetrotting was revealed in a Nov. 12, 2021 letter from his defense lawyers, who asked and received permission from U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, an appointee of President Barack Obama, for his 41st trip since he was first charged by federal prosecutors.
"I write to respectfully request the Court's permission for Mr. Archer to travel on vacation with his family from November 23 to November 28, 2021, to Jamaica for the Thanksgiving holiday," defense attorney Craig Wenner wrote. He added for good measure: "The Court previously approved the same trip this time last year."
You can read the letter here:
Judge Abrams — whose elite liberal family in New York includes famous First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams and TV legal analyst Dan Abrams — obliged once again by affixing her signature approving the request.
Remarkably, Abram's husband was a federal prosecutor in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation and part of the team that seized passports and restricted travel for high-profile defendants like Paul Manafort and his business partner Rick Gates.
Archer did not face the same restrictions. As he awaited trial since summer 2016 and since his conviction in summer 2018, Archer has been allowed to travel freely across the globe.
His travel log, enumerated in the court documents, reads like the travels of an American secretary of state: Russia, Mexico, China, Spain, Italy, the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan and Ukraine, the money laundering capital of Latvia, Hong Kong, London, Singapore and the French Antilles, to name a few.
You can see the travel approvals here:
Archer's lead defense attorney, Matthew Schwartz, works at the same Boies Schiller Flexner law firm where Hunter Biden also once practiced law. Schwartz did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
His firm's letter, however, did offer one line a defense. Their client "on each and every trip ... has returned on time, and without incident, demonstrating that he is no risk of flight," the letter to the judge boasted.
Most remarkably, Judge Abrams granted the travel permission over the objections of federal prosecutors who protested allowing a convicted felon who fleeced an Indian tribe to globetrot for five years as he awaited trial and then sentencing.
Just the News reached out to defense attorneys, former prosecutors and public defenders and members of Congress, all of whom said they were shocked by Abrams' leniency and said it stood in stark contrast to the treatment of the Jan. 6 defendants and other high-profile defendants whose travel privileges were revoked upon indictment.
"Just in case anyone needs further evidence that we do not have equal justice under the law, the accommodations made for Hunter Biden's convicted business partner take the cake," said Sen Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), who has spent two years investigating the Biden family's conflicts of interests and national security risks.
"If you're a powerful Democrat ... you get kid glove treatment," Johnson added. "If you're a Republican or ordinary citizen, you better watch out."
Kash Patel, a former Trump administration national security official, said in his two decades as a federal prosecutor and public defender he never saw so much travel approved for a convicted defendant.
"It is simply unheard of for a convicted felon facing years in prison to be permitted to galavant around the world by a federal judge instead of being remanded to custody of the U.S. marshal," Patel told Just the News.
"The treatment of this defendant shows a two-tier system of justice on full display," he added. "What is this judge going to allow Archer to do next, have the U.S. government rent him a private jet?"
Gates, Manafort's business partner who also was convicted of unrelated financial crimes in the Mueller investigation, said Judge Abrams' husband Greg Andres and his team seized both his passport and that of his wife (who wasn't accused of wrongdoing.)
"I wish I could tell you I am surprised by this revelation, but I am not," Gates told Just the News on Thursday night. "During the Mueller probe my passports were confiscated by Greg Andres with the Special Counsel's Office. My wife's passport was also confiscated, which I later learned was highly irregular and unethical.
"No doubt an attempt at intimidating our family," he added. "Many months after the final Mueller report was issued, the judge in my case ordered my passport to be returned. It took several weeks to find anyone that could help. Mueller's team had been disbanded by this point. In the end, I was informed that the passport was lost."
The questions surrounding Abrams' travel approvals are the second time her conduct in the Archer case has elicited scrutiny.
After Archer and two other defendants were convicted in the tribal securities fraud case, the judge vacated the conviction only for Archer.
A federal appeals court last year reinstated Archer's conviction, concluding Abrams should not have set aside the guilty verdict and rebuking the defendants for fleecing an Indian tribe out of as much as $60 million.
"The conspirators harmed not only the Wakpamni but also several investors upon whom they foisted the Wakpamni bonds — which had no secondary market — in order to generate cash for their own personal use," the appeals judges ruled.
"We are left with the unmistakable conclusion that the jury's verdict must be upheld," they added.
The Supreme Court agreed, refusing to overturn the appeals court.
Archer's sentencing has been delayed several times, but it's now slated for the end of this month.
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