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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Councilman's Defense Details Its Claims of Entrapment

August 05, 2000

SANTA ANA — City Councilman Ted Moreno rejected early offers of cash from a businessman cooperating with the FBI before relenting under increasing pressure, his attorney told a judge Friday.

By the time he took the cash--in transactions videotaped by the FBI--the federal investigation had risen to the level of entrapment, Dean Steward said at a hearing in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana.

U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor said he will instruct jurors about the entrapment defense when the trial begins Tuesday. The judge said he is likely to also inform the jurors that they can convict Moreno only if they believe he was not entrapped.

Assistant U.S. Atty. John Hueston argued Friday that the businessman's payoffs pertain to just one of 25 counts against Moreno. The other charges could stand, even assuming the jury agrees with the entrapment defense, Hueston said.

"The defendant engaged in one criminal act after another--on his own," Hueston said.

Moreno, 33, is accused of extortion, money laundering, mail fraud and lying to the FBI for allegedly soliciting campaign donations from businessmen in exchange for promises to approve requests they had pending before the City Council.

Steward said he believes most of the other charges won't stand up if the jury finds Moreno was entrapped by gas station owner Victor Koshkerian. FBI recordings will prove the entrapment, Steward said.

On those tapes, Moreno is recorded as saying "I hate doing this," and, "I don't want to do this," Steward said.

Attorneys estimate that Moreno's trial will last one month. If convicted, he could receive nine years in federal prison.

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