The 9th Circuit Court of Appeal has thrown out the conviction of an Oregon man who was found guilty of money-laundering in 2010. The government said that Pete Seda’s motive in committing fraud was to use the money to support the activities of Chechen terrorists. The Court overturned the conviction on the grounds that the government had misrepresented and failed to turn over favorable evidence to Seda’s attorneys, and that evidence to support Seda’s alleged motive was tenuous.
Specifically, the Court found that the government gave an incomplete and misleading summary of classified materials to Seda, and that the withheld information was favorable to his defense.
Mark Freeman of the Ashland Daily Tidings reports:A jury convicted Seda on tax-evasion and conspiracy charges for using his charity to help smuggle $150,000 from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000 and signing a fraudulent tax return to cover it up. Though prosecutors argued Seda’s motive was to fund Islamic terrorists in Chechnya and it was a key component of the entire trial, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan ruled they failed to prove that connection. “This is a tax fraud case that was transformed into a trial on terrorism,” the opinion states. Among its rulings, the appeals court found fault with the government’s unclassified summary of some classified materials that was given to Seda’s defense team, saying it was misrepresenting and incomplete. “We conclude that the substitution’s language unfairly colored presentation of the information and, even more problematic, that the substitution omitted facts helpful to Seda’s defense,” the decision states. The judges expounded on that decision in a classified opinion not made available. “Mr. Seda and his family and his defense team are pleased that his concerns about how the way the case was handled were vindicated,” Steve Wax, Seda’s lead defense attorney, said in an interview this morning.
Read the entire article here.