At a status hearing Wednesday afternoon, Judge Richard Leon said a trial is not likely this summer in the Justice Department’s most ambitious Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution.
The case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia involves 22 executives and employees in the arms dealing business charged with bribing a fictitious foreign official to secure a cut of a $15 million contract. They were originally charged in January in 16 different indictments, which the government has since consolidated into one.
On Wednesday, Mayer Brown partner David Krakoff, speaking for the defendants generally, requested more time to respond, arguing that there are differences in how they will respond collectively as opposed to individually.
For instance, Krakoff said that his individual client has never had any contact with any of the other defendants. “In the words of [Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland author] Lewis Carroll, this keeps getting curiouser and curiouser,” he said.
Hank Walther, assistant chief of the Justice Department’s Fraud Section, said that the issues have not changed because the government has always argued there is a single conspiracy.
Given the unusually large number of defendants, the Justice Department has also proposed dividing the trial into four parts, with the defendants divided into groups that are “logical” and contain “significant overlap,” Walther said.
Krakoff countered that the defendants don’t understand how these groups were formed. “They’ve left this case wide open to run the trial however they want,” he said.
Judge Leon, who repeatedly outlined his busy 2010 schedule, said he doesn’t see how the defendants can keep pushing for extended deadlines while also seeking an expedited trial. “You can’t have it both ways,” Leon said.
The arraignments are set for next Wednesday, and a hearing on the speedy-trial issues has been scheduled for May.