TRAFICANT CASE U.S. opposes separate trial for Detore
The government intends to call Jane Garvey, FAA administrator, as a witness.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CLEVELAND -- Just how many lawyers does U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s co-defendant need to defend one bribery charge?
The government believes four is more than enough.
In a response filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, the government opposes a request by Richard E. Detore to be tried separately from the 17th District congressman. Lawyers for Detore, 41, of Clifton, Va., contend that they need more time to prepare for trial and suggest that Traficant's outlandish behavior in court will reflect unfairly on Detore.
The Washington, D.C., lawyers -- John M. Dowd, James C. Osborne, Elizabeth C.L. Peterson and C. William Frick -- first asked U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells to postpone the Feb. 4 trial at least 60 days, then asked for a separate trial. Although Detore was added to the case in a superseding indictment Oct. 26, he didn't hire lawyers until Dec. 18.
"Based on the names listed on the pleadings, four lawyers ... appear to be assisting in Detore's defense," the government said. "However, defendant Detore complains that his four attorneys cannot adequately prepare for trial in the time allotted."
Charges: Traficant, indicted May 4, faces 10 counts, including racketeering, bribery and tax evasion, and will act as his own lawyer, even though he has no law degree. Detore is accused of taking part in a bribery scheme that involved his former employer, J.J. Cafaro at USAerospace Group in Virginia.
Cafaro, of Liberty, is a vice president with his family's mall development company. He admits bribing Traficant to ensure that the congressman promoted USAG laser technology with agencies such as the Federal Aviation Administration.
The government's motion points out that two trials are not an efficient use of time and witnesses, some of whom, such as Jane Garvey, FAA administrator, would have to travel to Cleveland from Washington for a second time and answer the same questions asked of them in the first trial.
Also, if Traficant and Detore have separate trials, whoever would go second would have the advantage of knowing the government's entire case.
"The opportunity to have such an advantage would likely lead to motions by Congressman Traficant seeking to have his case tried after defendant Detore," prosecutors said.
Prosecutors, though, don't oppose a short continuance of the trial. Traficant has made an oral motion for a separate trial.
Numerous lawyers: Detore, the government said, has gone through three sets of lawyers since first contacted by the FBI in August 2000. He has known since March 2001 that he was the target of the grand jury investigating Traficant and has known since early June 2001 that he would be indicted.
Plea negotiations between prosecutors and Detore's second set of lawyers stopped in late July 2001, the government said in its motion. Detore hired his third set of lawyers in early August 2001.
Detore's current lawyers also argue that he and Traficant were improperly joined for the trial because Detore is not charged in each of the congressman's 10 counts. The government said the law doesn't require that each defendant be named in all counts.
Traficant's effect: "Traficant will make every effort to use the courtroom as his pulpit and will turn his trial into a highly publicized circus," Dowd said in his motion last week that seeks a separate trial. "... His antics and the media attention they will capture will undoubtedly dominate the case, such that Mr. Detore's ability to mount his own separate defense will be utterly thwarted."
The jury will be able to sort out the evidence and consider each defendant separately, the government said.
Dowd, in his motion, said the cumulative impact of the evidence against Traficant will "cast an impenetrable shadow of guilt upon Mr. Detore."
The fact that Detore is less culpable than Traficant is not sufficient cause for two trials, the government said.
Dowd raised the possibility of Detore's calling Traficant as a defense witness. The government said Dowd didn't demonstrate that the congressman would be willing to do so if a second trial were held.