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Judge won't issue ruling



Published: Wed, January 30, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The congressman filed four motions and the court approved one.

CLEVELAND -- U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells has decided to not issue a pretrial ruling on the admissibility of statements Charles P. O'Nesti and Henry A. DiBlasio made to co-workers about kicking back part of their congressional salaries to U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.

If, at trial, the evidence meets the standards of "particularized trustworthiness," the statements may be admitted, Judge Wells said in an order filed Tuesday.

Traficant, of Poland, D-17th, filed four motions Tuesday in preparation for his racketeering trial next week.

If Judge Wells prevents Traficant from putting the lead prosecutor on the witness stand, the congressman wants her to prevent the prosecutor "from testifying on rebuttal or offering any evidence that he did not threaten or coerce witnesses to testify against pro se defendant when this evidence is brought out during the testimony in this case."

Denial and reminder: She denied his request and reminded the congressman that she already ruled against his desire to call the lead prosecutor, Craig S. Morford, to testify. "Moreover, the motion is premature and is denied," she said.

In response to the judge's denying him a 14-day delay of the trial, the congressman wants her to prohibit evidence he says he received after the discovery deadline. She denied the request.

Traficant's reference is to a letter the prosecution received and sent on to him Jan. 18 about the kickback schemes.

Traficant also asked the judge to separate all government witnesses and not allow them in court until it is their turn to testify. She granted the request.

Fourth filing: Traficant also filed a motion asking that the judge order the government to "stop intimidating, threatening and obstructing justice."

In the motion, he refers to an audiotaped conversation in which the subject is a former employee of contractor A. David Sugar. Sugar has pleaded guilty to his part in the Traficant case.

The congressman said he "submitted" the tape Monday, although he doesn't identify it as evidence or say to whom he submitted it.

Traficant said he was informed by the man on the tape that Sugar "was immediately called by the government" and this former employee was concerned about what was going to happen to Sugar.

The congressman wants the government to cease and desist from such behavior concerning Sugar "who happens to be my constituent."

meade@vindy.com




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