Tuesday, October 17, 2000

Former executive's indictment dropped

Judge accused prosecutors of getting documents improperly

By Michael D. Clark
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The indictment of a former Firstar bank executive was thrown out in federal court Monday after a judge accused federal prosecutors of misconduct in obtaining documents crucial to their case.

        U.S. District Court Judge Susan J. Dlott granted John F. Yeager's request to dis miss his indictment last year that accused the former Firstar Bank assistant manager of illegally approving nine loans, for more than $200,000, for unqualified applicants with whom he allegedly had a conflict of interest.

        Moreover, Judge Dlott criticized prosecutors who she said hindered Mr. Yeag er's defense by not making a proper effort to obtain key credit report documents, then used their alleged lack of existence as grounds for indicting Mr. Yeager.

        In May, Mr. Yeager admitted two bank fraud counts involving $4,500. But when the disputed records appeared in August, the 31-year-old Anderson Township man withdrew that plea.

        Judge Dlott convened a hearing Sept. 1 specifically to probe the unexpected appearance of long-sought documents. In issuing her dismissal of Mr. Yeager's indictment she wrote that “at the very least, the gov ernment's conduct has been reprehensible, and its adherence to the procedural safeguards of the criminal process has been far less rigorous than it ought.”

        She continued that the “defendant specifically requested the credit reports on multiple occasions and, in response, the government represented to this court that the reports did not exist because Mr. Yeager had never completed them. That representation was false.”

        Mr. Yeager declined comment, but his attorney, Martin Pinales, said his client was pleased with the dismissal.

        U.S. District attorneys were unavailable for comment.

        Mr. Pinales said his repeated attempts to obtain credit reports pertinent to the case were ignored, even though there was an abundance of secondary evidence, including bank audits, that alluded to the existence of such credit reports.

        “There were a number of problems over and over with the discovery process,” Mr. Pinales said.

        “... The prosecutors had evidence right there in their hands that talked about existence of the credit reports,” he said.


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