Rezko trial: U.S. seeks to limit questioning

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Prosecutors filed a court petition today asking that Judge Amy St. Eve bar the defense from asking about the criminal past of a witness' nephew. They also say that the witness, Ali Ata, should not be asked about another investigation into his business that ended without charges.

Ata, expected to give explosive testimony when he takes the stand Thursday, should not be asked about his nephew, Raed Muslin, prosecutors say. Muslin was convicted of conspiracy charges involving the distribution of pseudoephedrine -- at times in the warehouse of a company that later came under Ata's control.

According to prosecutors, Muslin used the warehouse located at Jaffa Candies to
unload and store controlled substances between November 1999 and January 2002.
"Jaffa Candies was the predecessor entity to a business associated with Ali Ata (i.e., Jenin
Distributors, Inc.)," prosecutors indicated in the filing.
But Ata was never accused of any wrongdoing tied to his nephew's behavior, prosecutors wrote. That means the defense should be banned from asking Ata about it, they argued.

Separately, prosecutors also say Ata shouldn't be asked about a separate structuring investigation into his business, Jenin Distributors. Structuring is the act of purposely handling sums of cash less than $10,000 to avert a government requirement to disclose such transactions. A bank had flagged Jenin to the government, saying it was under suspicion of structuring. The feds investigated but say that they concluded in 2006 that there was no wrongdoing -- that's well before Ata cooperated.

But the defense will likely try to argue that Ata is cooperating against Rezko (he pleaded guilty just last week) in part because they did him the favor of not prosecuting him in another case.

The judge is expected to rule today.

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Natasha Korecki

Natasha Korecki is the Federal Courts Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, covering federal news, corruption investigations and trials.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on April 30, 2008 8:46 PM.

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