Prosecutors have dropped criminal justice bribes case against an AP story alleging that AP’s AP review of a $1.2 million contract awarded to the AP for a television ad campaign for President Donald Trump was influenced by an AP employee, according to court documents.
Prosecutors dropped a corruption charge against John O. Rizzo, AP’s vice president of corporate communications, who has pleaded not guilty to charges that he illegally bribed an AP staffer.
Prosecutors also dropped charges of obstruction of justice against AP’s executive editor, Mark Halperin, for allegedly pressuring Halperi into taking a position against the AP story.
The charges are related to a lawsuit filed by the AP in March.
The Associated Press is the AP’s parent company.
The AP story on the contract was published Aug. 1 and was based on interviews with the AP employees who allegedly received kickbacks in exchange for the AP report.
Halperins attorney, Stephen L. Gorman, said in a statement Wednesday that he has confidence that the AP and its employees will continue to conduct their investigations in a professional manner and that the case will be resolved in the best interest of the American public.
Rizzo pleaded not only not guilty but also not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges in a Miami courtroom Wednesday.
AP reporters Mark Berman and John Solomon, who had been investigating the AP contract for months, were also granted bail and will remain in jail.
Halperin has pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
He will be sentenced in April.
He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.