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Lawyers Seek to Sever Bombing Trial

Courts: Defense team says jurors will be prejudiced if two JDL leaders are tried together for alleged plot.


Attorneys for Jewish Defense League leader Irv Rubin said Wednesday that jurors will be severely prejudiced if he is tried alongside his longtime associate, Earl Krugel, on charges of conspiring to bomb a mosque in Culver City and a congressman's field office in San Diego County.

In papers filed in U.S. District Court, Rubin's lawyers asked that the defendants' Nov. 12 trial be severed.

Rubin contends he had nothing to do with the alleged plot to bomb the King Fahd mosque in Culver City and a field office of U.S. Rep. Darrell E. Issa (R-Vista), an Arab American, last year.

Krugel's defense is that he was illegally entrapped by a former league member turned government informer.

To counter Krugel's entrapment claim, prosecutors are expected to present evidence that he was involved in at least two previous bombing plots.

Any such evidence is likely to rub off on Rubin and prejudice him in the eyes of a jury, defense attorneys Peter Morris and Bryan Altman argued in their severance motion.

"Even if this court gives the jury an instruction that the prior bombing evidence is not to be considered against Rubin, the jury will not be able to separate out the evidence," his lawyers asserted.

Rubin's defense also contended that jurors will be prejudiced during a joint trial because of the "many disgusting racial remarks" that Krugel made during secretly recorded meetings with the government informant, Danny Gillis.

According to a partial transcript of one meeting, Krugel and Gillis traded racist quips about Arabs and blacks.

"This is especially unfair to Rubin, who did not make any racist remarks in his conversations with Gillis," Rubin's attorneys said.

Last month, Krugel's defense lawyer, Mark Werksman, asked U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew to bar prosecutors from playing offensive portions of the tapes because they could inflame the jury.

Lew is scheduled to hear arguments on all pretrial motions Nov. 5.

Reached for comment Wednesday, defense attorney Morris denied that the request to sever the case represents a falling out between the two defendants.

"This in no way represents a split between Irv Rubin and Earl Krugel," Morris said. "The severance motion was made to protect Irv Rubin's legal interests."

Werksman said he believes a joint trial would be better for both defendants "unless Irv Rubin is going to be unfairly disadvantaged because of this evidence, which may come in against Earl but not against Irv."

He said the goal of both defense teams is to "prove that Earl Krugel and Irv Rubin are innocent of these trumped-up, inflammatory and overblown charges."

In a separate motion Wednesday, Rubin's lawyers asked Lew to order prosecutors to turn over records concerning FBI investigations into the 1985 murder of Alex Odeh, director of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee's West Coast office in Santa Ana, and a series of alleged death threats against Rubin in 2000 and 2001.

Rubin and other league members were subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury investigating Odeh's slaying, which remains unsolved. Rubin has publicly denied any involvement.

His defense lawyers said they want the government's Odeh files to show that the FBI was "out to get" Rubin because it could not implicate him in the murder.

They said they also intend to show that the government failed to investigate credible and explicit death threats made against Rubin over the telephone and through e-mails.

Records of both investigations are needed, they said, to prove the government's "longtime bias" against Rubin. "This is one of the most, if not the most, critical parts of Rubin's defense." they said.

Rubin, 56, the Jewish Defense League's national director, and Krugel, 59, the organization's West Coast coordinator, face sentences of at least 40 years in prison if convicted. They have been held without bail since their arrests last December.

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