The trial is still on for July 29.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
CLEVELAND -- A man linked to one of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr.'s bribery schemes not only hasn't found a new lawyer but missed a key court date, saying he "blacked out."
Richard E. Detore, a 42-year-old Virginia engineer, has gone through three sets of lawyers since being named in Traficant's superseding indictment on Oct. 26, 2001. Detore is charged with conspiracy to violate the federal bribery statute.
Traficant of Poland, D-17th, was originally indicted May 4, 2001. A jury found him guilty in April of racketeering, bribery and tax evasion and he will be sentenced July 30.
In an order filed Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lesley Brooks Wells expressed her dissatisfaction with Detore's being a no-show for a final pretrial hearing and reset it to next Tuesday. The trial is still on for July 29.
Judge Wells noted in her order that Detore's wife called the court at 11:35 a.m. Tuesday and explained that he had "blacked out" for one minute at 9 a.m. and was in a Virginia hospital. The day before, Detore had sent a fax to the court asking that the pretrial be continued "for at least a month" to provide him with additional time to retain counsel.
Faxes not accepted
"The court will not consider this request for a continuance because the request was not properly filed," Judge Wells said, referring to the fax. "All motions must be served on the other parties (in this case, the government)."
The judge added that the clerk's office will not accept faxes unless she allows it, which she did not.
The judge ordered Detore to appear in person next week and, if he has a lawyer by then, ordered that person to appear in person, too.
Detore wrote to the judge twice in June, saying he was "diligently" trying to obtain new lawyers. The judge, noting that he'd gone through three lawyers since last October, had given him until June 11 to hire a lawyer or let her know if he would represent himself.
"Mr. Detore cannot indefinitely delay his trial by drawing out the process of finding a new attorney," Judge Wells said June 24, when she reset his final pretrial to Tuesday. "Although a defendant in a criminal case must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to secure counsel of his or her own choosing, the right to retain counsel of one's own choosing is not absolute."
Detore has been free on $50,000 unsecured bond since his arraignment Nov. 27, 2001.
Detore's alleged involvement in the Traficant case can be traced back to the late 1990s, when he served as chief operating officer of U.S. Aerospace Group, once based in Manassas, Va. and owned by J.J. Cafaro of the mall development family. USAG folded in 2000.
Cafaro, of Liberty, has pleaded guilty to providing Traficant with illegal gratuities in return for the congressman using his influence to promote USAG laser-guidance technology. Cafaro admitted the bribe was nearly $40,000 -- including cash and the purchase of the congressman's houseboat.
Traficant, Albert Lange, USAG chief engineer, and Detore agreed to conceal Cafaro's purchase of the boat by making it appear as though Lange bought it, the government said. Cafaro and Lange testified against Traficant at trial.
Cafaro will be sentenced Aug. 14. Lange received immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony.