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MailTribune.com
  • Seda's defense should not cost taxpayers, says the prosecution

    Former Ashland activist should pay, attorneys tell federal judge
  • Federal prosecutors believe former Ashland activist Pete Seda doesn't deserve his publicly funded defense in his money-laundering and tax-cheat convictions, and they suspect alleged discrepancies in Seda's applications for court-appointed attorneys might help prove it.
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  • Federal prosecutors believe former Ashland activist Pete Seda doesn't deserve his publicly funded defense in his money-laundering and tax-cheat convictions, and they suspect alleged discrepancies in Seda's applications for court-appointed attorneys might help prove it.
    Prosecutors Tuesday asked a federal judge to unseal affidavits Seda filed with the U.S. District Court in Eugene in 2007 that led to two attorneys being appointed at taxpayer expense to defend him. The case lasted more than four years and included close to 600 court filings.
    The affidavits were sealed at that time and have not been viewed by prosecutors.
    But during Seda's Sept. 27 sentencing hearing surrounding financial crimes involving his defunct Islamic charity, Hogan said there were apparent inconsistencies in materials Seda provided — including a financial affidavit used to determine whether he was indigent and qualified for a public defender.
    Neither prosecutors, defense attorneys nor Hogan have said in court or in court files what those apparent inconsistencies were.
    If funds are available from Seda or on his behalf, then federal law allows Hogan to require Seda to pay for part or all of his defense, court records show.
    In separate court filings, defense attorneys Steven Wax and Larry Matasar argued that unsealing those documents would violate Seda's privacy rights.
    The defense team has told Hogan in court filings that the 2007 inquiry by the court to determine whether Seda deserved a publicly funded defense shouldn't be used "as a forum to discover whether the person has assets subject to forfeiture (or) the ability to pay a fine."
    No information was readily available Wednesday on how big a bill Seda's defense team racked up during the case or how much has been paid so far.
    A jury in 2010 convicted Seda for helping smuggle $150,000 to Saudi Arabia through his Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter in 2000 and then lying about it on tax forms to cover the crime.
    Along with his 33-month federal prison term, Seda was fined nearly $81,000 but sidestepped nearly five more years in prison when Hogan ruled that prosecutors failed to prove the smuggled money went to terrorists.
    Seda, also known as Perouz Sedaghaty, has never been labeled by the government as a supporter of terrorism. However, his Al-Haramain chapter, its parent organization and a co-defendant in the case — a Saudi national named Soliman Al-Buthe — have been labeled supporters of terrorism.
    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently re-affirmed those designations.
    Al-Buthe, who lives in Saudi Arabia, where there is no extradition agreement with the U.S., remains wanted here for his role in the money-laundering case.
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at mfreeman@mailtribune.com.
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