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The lawyer for former Tyco International Ltd. General Counsel Mark Belnick said he was “ready to go” with a trial originally scheduled to begin Monday. But the judge postponed the trial for two weeks after prosecutors requested more time to prepare their case and to let the media frenzy surrounding the first Tyco trial die down. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus said jury selection in the Belnick trial will begin April 26. The judge, who also presided over the trial of former Tyco Chief Executive Officer L. Dennis Kozlowski and Chief Financial Officer Mark H. Swartz, also said he would not expect prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office to put on their first witness before May 10. Belnick is facing charges of grand larceny, securities fraud and falsifying business records for allegedly taking about $50 million from Tyco in unauthorized loans and compensation. A former litigation partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, he faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. The former general counsel’s trial had already been delayed by the prolonged trial of Kozlowski and Swartz. The executives’ six-month trial ended in a mistrial last Friday after Ruth Jordan, a juror who had been identified by name in some newspapers as holding out for an acquittal, received a letter from a third party questioning her judgment. Assistant District Attorney John W. Moscow proposed a May 24 trial date for the Belnick case. Acknowledging that prosecutors were not ready to proceed Monday or a week after that, Moscow said he had “grossly miscalculated” the amount of time needed for witness preparation. Moscow also expressed fear that the jury pool might be affected by press attention directed at the jurors from the trial of Kozlowski and Swartz. Jordan and other Tyco jurors have been interviewed about the trial by various media, and Moscow said he was concerned that some potential jurors might regard serving on the Belnick trial as a way to achieve a measure of celebrity rather than perform a civic duty. A delay would make it easier for the court to empanel “a jury that will focus on serious charges,” said Moscow. But Belnick’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten of Washington’s Steptoe & Johnson, said a few weeks would likely make no difference. “People will be talking about the Kozlowski mistrial for years,” he said. Weingarten said postponing the trial would create substantial hardships for the defense. He noted that the defense team, many of whom live in Washington, had already paid for office space near the courthouse for the period of the trial as well as hotel rooms. A delay, he said, would lead to “an enormous waste of resources” and would be “profoundly unfair to Belnick.” Weingarten has said that payments to Belnick, including a $14 million relocation loan and a $12 million special bonus, were made “in the ordinary course of business” at a company where generous compensation for high-performing executives was routine. Justice Obus said he was sympathetic to Weingarten’s concerns. He agreed that a delay would not make a difference in jury selection unless the trial was postponed for an unreasonably long time. STRATEGIC RISKS Some observers had expected both sides to agree to a long delay, perhaps even until after the retrial of Kozlowski and Swartz. “There’s a certain tendency on the part of the defense to say, ‘Let’s delay because who knows what will turn up and what will happen,’” said Ronald Blum, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney in private practice at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips. But there are risks in both pressing ahead and delay, said Blum. Belnick might benefit from seeing prosecutors go through their case against Kozlowski and Swartz again. On the other hand, prosecutors would be able to bring their greater experience to bear against Belnick. Although an acquittal of Kozlowski and Swartz in a retrial could help Belnick’s defense in a subsequent trial, convictions or a plea agreement could be devastating. Weingarten’s tight schedule is also a factor. In addition to Belnick, he also represents former WorldCom CEO Bernard J. Ebbers, who was charged in federal court in New York last month of fraud, conspiracy and making false statements in connection with an $11 billion accounting fraud that led to the telecommunications company’s filing for bankruptcy.

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