On Jan. 19, 2011 U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan ordered Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation (Oregon) leader Pete Sedaghaty (Seda) released from jail pending proceedings examining FBI payments to the chief prosecution witness in the case. Seda was convicted of tax fraud charges based on allegations he hid a contribution to Chechen militants. On Jan. 18 lawyers for Seda filed another motion seeking his release and a new trial based on recent revelations that the FBI apparently deleted a key sentence from a prosecution witness summary provided to the defense before the trial. It said, the witness “did not recall Sedaghaty discussing the topic of Kosovo or supporting mujahedin there.”
The Ashland (OR) Daily Tidings reported that at the hearing “The government also admitted giving the defense team conflicting versions of a report from an August 2007 interview FBI agent David Carroll had with Richard Cabral…”, the deceased husband of prosecution witness Barbara Cabral. Post-trial evidence revealed the Cabrals had been paid $14,500 by the FBI prior to the trial,but the defense was not informed until afterwards.
The defense learned about the payments and inconsistencies in the witness statement reports after prosecutors asked U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton to approve an additional payment of $7,500 to Barbara Cabral. He denied the request and ordered the information to be turned over the defense. The prosecution team of Gorder (terrorism AUSA for Oregon), Cardani (AUSA, Eugene), Anderson (IRS) and Carroll (FBI) are all off the case .
The judge gave both sides in the case 30 days to file briefs on whether Seda should get a new trial, but no hearing date has been set. Seda’s lawyers said they will be filing a motion to dismiss the indictment.