NEW YORK — A federal judge Monday set a Jan. 3 trial date for three men charged with racketeering in the Wedtech Corp. scandal, ensuring that potentially embarrassing testimony about the bankrupt defense contractor will not be given until after the presidential election.
Prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Richard Owen for an earlier date, but the defense said it needed more time and one defense attorney said he would be tied up in other trials until early December.
The defendants are attorney E. Robert Wallach, 53, a longtime friend of Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III; financial consultant W. Franklyn Chinn, 45; and R. Kent London, 44, a Chinn business associate.
Wallach, Chinn and London are charged with extracting millions of dollars from Wedtech, a now bankrupt defense contractor, to influence Meese and other officials. All three have pleaded not guilty.
Introduced Meese, Chinn
Wallach introduced Meese to Chinn, a former Wedtech board member, and urged him to invest with Chinn.
Meese was not charged with any wrongdoing in the 18-count federal indictment, and a special prosecutor in Washington, although critical of the attorney general's conduct regarding Wedtech and other matters, decided there was insufficient evidence to indict him.
Meese, saying the special prosecutor's investigation vindicated him, plans to leave office by early August.
The trial was delayed by a legal wrangle over government attempts to freeze Chinn's assets, including money he needed to pay his defense lawyers. Prosecutors wanted his property attached to guarantee its availability for seizure if Chinn were convicted.
But, late last month, Owen ruled that the money and property the government sought to freeze were not subject to forfeiture.