Court Decision Could Aid AIPAC Defendants

A federal court ruling

in a tax shelter case against accounting giant KPMG could end up assisting Steve Rosen and Steve Weissman, the two AIPAC employees accused of conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information. Federal judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan dismissed charges against 13 defendants in the KPMG case because he said the government had strong-armed KPMG into not paying the legal fees of defendants and had violated their rights. Rosen and Weissman are also battling prosecutors in their case over questions about where their legal fees are coming from:

For more than a year, Messrs. Rosen and Weissman have been locked in a dispute with Aipac over the payment of their legal bills. The Sun reported last month that defense lawyers complained to Judge Thomas Ellis III that investigators were inquiring about how the two men were funding their defense. Judge Kaplan's decision is not binding in other cases, but Mr. Nassikas said the judge's rationale is compelling. "I'd like to think it's going to be read by the Aipac folks in a way that they're going to see a lot of judicial force behind the idea employees and managers should have their legal fees paid by their organization," the defense attorney said. "It's a very significant decision." A lawyer for Mr. Rosen, Abbe Lowell, said yesterday that he was closely reviewing the KPMG decision. Asked if he might seek to use the ruling in court, Mr. Lowell said, "Stay tuned."

The August 7 trial date for the two AIPAC workers will likely be pushed back due to this issue as well as issues about the handling of classified information

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