TRAFICANT CASE Judge refuses to delay trial


CLEVELAND -- U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells denied today a request by U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. to delay his trial for 14 days.
The racketeering trial will go forward in a week with jury selection. Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, filed a response Jan. 22 explaining his need for more time. In the response, Traficant dealt with the prosecutors' assertion that if jurors hear his version of why the government investigated him -- a vendetta -- they'll also get to hear a now-inadmissible FBI audio tape with Charles P. O'Nesti's kickback confession.
O'Nesti, Traficant's district director for 13 years, made the tape Jan. 6, 2000, and died Feb. 29, 2000.
The prosecution's assertion had been prompted by an objection by Traficant to the government's plan to call former congressional staffers to testify about conversations they had with O'Nesti in which he griped about the kickbacks. The O'Nesti audio tape was disclosed now to allow the court to consider all information in evaluating the reliability of the statements O'Nesti made to co-workers, the government said.

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