Court Rejects Safavian's Requests to Exclude Tyco and Scotland Trip Evidence

I haven't seen anything in the news today about yesterday's court rulings denying David Safavian's motions to exclude "Other Acts" evidence, but here they are:

Issues involved in Golf trip:

This matter is before the Court on defendant Safavian's motion to exclude evidence of unalleged false statements, gratuities, bribery, or gifts from prohibited sources. Specifically, pursuant to Rule 104(a) of the Federal Rules of Evidence, the defendant asks the Court to exclude all evidence relating to the actual cost of the 2002 trip to Scotland, as well as any other evidence implicating gratuities, bribery or gifts from prohibited sources. The defendant argues that the government should not be able to present evidence of offenses not charged in the indictment, that the actual cost of the Scotland trip is not probative of the charges contained in the indictment, and that any such evidence would unfairly prejudice the defendant and confuse the jury.

The government responds that defendant's misrepresentations to the GSA Office of the Inspector General ("OIG") that he had fully reimbursed Jack Abramoff for the cost of the trip to Scotland was both untrue and constituted obstructive conduct. The government proffers that it will introduce evidence that the $3,100 that defendant paid for the Scotland trip was but a small fraction of the cost of the trip and that he concealed the true cost from the GSA and from the Senate Committee.

Furthermore, the government argues, since the actual cost was roughly four times what Mr. Safavian actually paid to Mr. Abramoff he had a strong motive to lie when he spoke to the ethics officer, the GSA-OIG and the Senate Committee staff. The government's position therefore is that evidence concerning the cost of the trip is not "other crimes" evidence under Rule 404(b) of the Federal Rules of Evidence but evidence that is inextricably intertwined with the charged offenses and therefore is independently admissible. Alternatively, it argues that it is other crimes evidence that goes to a central issue in this case -- namely, whether the defendant made false statements knowingly and willfully.

The Court explains its ruling for the Government.

In the Tyco matter, the Government won the right to introduce:

....the government seeks to introduce evidence that the defendant, David Safavian, knew that TYCO was a lobbying client of Jack Abramoff's and that, having learned through his official position at GSA that TYCO was about to be suspended from doing business with the government, Mr. Safavian called Mr. Abramoff and gave him advance warning of this fact. The government also seeks to introduce evidence that Mr. Safavian subsequently provided Mr. Abramoff with sensitive and confidential information regarding internal GSA deliberations concerning the circumstances surrounding the TYCO suspension, and that defendant Mr. Safavian suggested to Mr. Abramoff certain arguments that TYCO should make when it appealed the suspension decision to GSA officials. This conduct on the part of Mr. Safavian allegedly took place in November 2003 and thereafter.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Neil Volz, former aide to Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who pleaded guilty and is cooperating with the Government's investigation, will be a trial witness against Safavian.

Now, if Safavian decides to plead guilty and cooperate, who will he turn on?

Update: It looks like trial starts Monday. The Wall St. Journal (free link) reports:

Ms. Van Gelder faces other hurdles. This week, she told Judge Friedman she was having trouble lining up witnesses who were on the Scotland golf trip, which included Rep. Ney, Mr. Volz and Ralph Reed, now a candidate to be Georgia's lieutenant governor. Lawyers of some attendees have told her their clients might invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if forced to take the stand, she told the court.

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