U.S. Attorney's Office: Insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges against Bernie Fine

By WKTV News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The U.S. Attorney's Office has announced that a thorough year-long investigation arising from allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Bernard "Bernie" Fine has revealed insufficient evidence to pursue federal criminal charges.

As a result, the United States Attorney's Office is closing its investigation. Counsel for Mr. Fine has been notified that the investigation has been closed.

Last November, the United States Attorney's Office was made aware of allegations that Fine, who was then the Associate Head Coach of the Syracuse University men's basketball team, had engaged in sexual activity with underage males.

The Attorney's Office said it subsequently opened a criminal investigation into potential federal charges, working closely with the Syracuse Police Department and the U.S. Secret Service, which provides assistance in investigations involving exploitation of children. They say they also received significant assistance from the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the New York State Police as well as communicated with the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office, and agreed to refer for their consideration any evidence of conduct violating state but not federal law.

The Behavioral Analysis Unit of the FBI provided specialized investigative support. Syracuse University fully cooperated in our investigation. A toll-free tip line was established, and a number of tips were received. In all, approximately 130 witnesses were interviewed and investigators examined over 100,000 pages of documents, including electronic mail messages, financial records, travel records, and other materials, as well as items seized during the execution of federal search warrants.

"The nature and seriousness of these allegations, which involved conduct typically committed in private with individuals who are reluctant to come forward, warranted a thorough federal investigation," said United States Attorney Richard S. Hartunian.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said that in assessing the results of the investigation, they applied the Department of Justice's principles of federal prosecution, which provide for seeking an indictment only if "the person's conduct constitutes a Federal offense and . . . the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction."

The office concluded that the investigation has not developed sufficient credible evidence of the commission of a prosecutable offense to merit either federal charges or a referral to a district attorney's office for state prosecution. As a result, they are closing our investigation.

The closure of their investigation does not constitute a determination of what did or did not happen, the office notes, only that a thorough investigation has not revealed sufficient admissible evidence to obtain and sustain a federal conviction.

"Mr. Fine retains the presumption of innocence that is an integral aspect of our system of justice," a media release from the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

If there are people with relevant information that have not yet come forward, they are encouraged to call the tip line, 1-855-395-1106, or contact the U.S. Secret Service or the Syracuse Police Department.

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