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Angeles County | Community News File / Santa Monica

Back Surgery Delays McDougal's Trial

July 24, 1998

The trial of Whitewater figure Susan McDougal on charges she embezzled $150,000 from conductor Zubin Mehta's wife has been postponed 12 days while McDougal recovers from back surgery, a court spokeswoman said Thursday.

Superior Court Judge Leslie Light put off jury selection in the trial, which is expected to last between four and six weeks, until Aug. 3. Another judge had already delayed the proceedings for the same reason earlier this month.

McDougal, 43, is accused of embezzling the money while working as a bookkeeper and assistant for Nancy Mehta, the wife of the former Los Angeles and New York Philharmonic conductor, between 1989 and 1992.

McDougal is accused of 12 criminal charges, including grand theft, forgery and failure to file an income tax return.

Her lawyer Mark Geragos has said the case was "propped up" by prosecutors to pressure her into testifying in the Whitewater investigation by special counsel Kenneth Starr. She has pleaded not guilty. McDougal was jailed for contempt of court by a federal judge after refusing to appear before a grand jury and testify in the Whitewater investigation. She was freed last month because of her back condition.

McDougal and her late ex-husband were partners with President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in the failed Whitewater land deal.

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