Sat, Dec 06, 2003 - Page 20 News List

Prosecution rests in Salt Lake City bribery court case


The Justice Department wrapped up its case on Thursday in the bribery trial of two men accused of plying International Olympic Committee delegates with US$1 million in cash, gifts and favors to win Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Games.

Tom Welch, who led the Olympic bid effort, and his deputy Dave Johnson were charged in a 15-count federal indictment with bribery racketeering, fraud and conspiracy.

They could face up to 75 years in prison if convicted, though a court spokeswoman has said any sentences probably would be much shorter.

US District Court Judge David Sam excused jurors after the prosecution rested and heard arguments on a defense motion to dismiss the case for lack of proof. He said he would rule on the motion yesterday.

Throughout the trial, Sam -- who tossed out the original charges against the bid leaders before they were reinstated by an appeals court -- repeatedly has ruled against prosecutors on evidence and frequently shut down their lines of questioning.

On Thursday, he cautioned the jury that an FBI agent's testimony about the perks to IOC delegates was "not to be considered as new evidence in this case."

However, he allowed the agent's charts summarizing those perks over objections from defense lawyers.

FBI agent Paul Bingham, the final prosecution witness to take the stand, went over charts outlining payments and perks doled out to 15 of the IOC delegates and relatives including trips to Disneyland, stopovers at Paris hotels, tuition at US schools and car repairs.

Most of the payments were booked to a bid campaign "assistance program" meant for impoverished athletes in developing countries, Bingham testified.

Others were booked to an "outbound" travel account meant for bid staffers' airfare.

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