SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - FedEx has no duty to correct mistakes the U.S. government made in tolling agreements that will allow the shipping company to evade 14 criminal counts, a federal judge ruled Friday.
The government asked to reform agreements made to freeze the statute of limitations on charges relating to an alleged conspiracy to sell and distribute drugs from illegal online pharmacies. FedEx was indicted on the charges in June 2014.
At a hearing held earlier this month, prosecutor Kirstin Ault argued that FedEx misled the government about its corporate structure by failing to make clear that FedEx Corp., Federal Express Corp. and FedEx Corporate Services are three separate companies.
In a March 18 ruling, U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer found the government could have easily researched the company's corporate structure by looking at the Securities and Exchange Commission's website.
"The government appears to have forgotten that in a criminal prosecution, the defendant is not required to make the government's case," Breyer wrote in a tersely worded 10-page ruling.
The government argued FedEx knew its investigation was not limited to one corporate entity and that it should have corrected the error, but knowledge of the investigation does not mean FedEx knew which parties the government intended to prosecute, Breyer wrote.
"FedEx argues persuasively that the defendants here disclosed volumes of evidence from which the government could have ascertained FedEx's corporate structure, and asserts that the government cannot justify its confusion given that it had access to the considerable investigatory powers of a grand jury proceeding," Breyer stated.
Four tolling documents paused the five-year statute of limitations period from February 2010 to June 2012, but the agreements only apply to "Federal Express Corp. and its subsidiaries."
Because 14 charges were based on acts that allegedly occurred in 2008, Breyer granted FedEx's motion to dismiss those charges.
FedEx still faces four charges relating to an alleged conspiracy to distribute controlled substances after April 13, 2009.
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