Wed, Dec 07, 2005 - Page 7 News List

Judge dismisses conspiracy charge but money-laundering charge stands

AP , AUSTIN, TEXAS

Demonstrator Amy Brenham, center, yells to voice her opinion outside a campaign fundraiser for US Representative Tom DeLay in Houston, Texas, on Monday.

PHOTO: AP

A judge dismissed a conspiracy charge against Representative Tom DeLay but refused to throw out far more serious allegations of money-laundering, dashing the congressman's hopes for now of reclaiming his post as House majority leader.

Texas Judge Pat Priest, who is presiding over the case against the Republican, issued the ruling on Monday after a hearing late last month in which DeLay's attorney argued that the indictment was fatally flawed.

When he was indicted in September, DeLay was required under House rules to relinquish the leadership post he had held since 2003. While Monday's ruling was a partial victory for DeLay, he cannot reclaim his post because he remains under indictment.

The ruling means the case will move toward a trial next year, though other defense objections to the indictments remain to be heard by the judge.

DeLay declined to speak with reporters on Monday evening as he entered a campaign fundraiser with Vice President Dick Cheney at a Houston hotel.

But DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said the court's decision "underscores just how baseless and politically motivated the charges were."

DeLay "is very encouraged by the swift progress of the legal proceedings and looks forward to his eventual and absolute exoneration based on the facts and the law," Madden said.

In a written statement, prosecutor Ronnie Earle's office said authorities had made no decision about whether to appeal.

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