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Judge Presiding in Rocketdyne Trial to Stay

January 13, 2002

A motion to remove a federal judge in Riverside from the trial of two former Rocketdyne employees charged with environmental crimes was rejected Friday by U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips.

Defense attorneys made the motion after learning that U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Timlin once helped a key prosecution witness hire a lawyer to sue Rocketdyne. The witness is the widow of one of two scientists killed in a 1994 explosion at Rocketdyne's Santa Susana Field Laboratory southeast of Simi Valley.

Charged in the case are Joseph E. Flanagan, 60, of Stanwood, Wash., and Edgar R. Wilson, 65, of Chatsworth. Neither man is charged with the deaths, but each faces two counts of illegally disposing of hazardous wastes.

Flanagan , who was director of Rocketdyne's Chemical Technology Group, also is accused of illegally storing the materials. If convicted, they face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the counts.

Timlin is presiding over a case stemming from the same blast.

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