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Defense Files Motion To Suppress Evidence In Former Senator’s Trial

April 4, 1988

CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) _ A former state senator who faked his death and fled before sentencing on a union kickback conviction was drugged, tortured and fed a diet of wormy rice for 12 days while he was held in the Maldive Islands, his attorneys claim.

Former state Sen. David Friedland was in such poor condition that he began hallucinating the night before he was placed in U.S. custody in the Indian Ocean islands, the court documents said.

″During the last night ... Mr. Friedland hallucinated that the prophet Mohammed told him to convert and he would be released,″ said a defense motion.

The motion, filed late last week before Chief U.S. District Judge John F. Gerry, seeks to suppress statements Friedland made to U.S. officials who accompanied him on a 24-hour flight from the Maldives in December 1987.

Friedland does not remember being read his rights or waiving his rights to an attorney during the flight, the motion said.

Defense attorneys for the former fugitive also filed motions last week to dismiss 35 of the 90 counts in a federal indictment that charged Friedland with masterminding a $20 million swindle of a pension fund.

Court documents do not indicate the nature of the statements that Friedland allegedly made to U.S. Deputy Marshal Blair Deem and Special Agent Thomas G. Sommero during the flight from the Maldives.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chertoff declined comment on the statements Monday but said they may be made public during a pretrial hearing on May 13.

Friedland, 50, is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 7 on charges he set up a bogus mortgage company in Florida to bilk the pension fund of Teamsters Local 701 in North Brunswick.

Friedland faked his own death in a bogus scuba-diving accident in September 1985, weeks before he was to be sentenced for a 1980 kickback conviction involving the same pension fund. An indictment alleges that Friedland, a disbarred attorney, engineered the second scam while working as a government informant.

Friedland traveled through Europe, Asia and Africa while on the run before settling on the Republic of Maldives, where he ran a scuba-diving business for 18 months.

According to the court documents, members of the National Security Force of Male, the Republic of Maldives, arrested Friedland on Dec. 12, 1987.

For the next 12 days, the motion said, he was kept in a back room with boards for a mattress and a non-working, overflowing toilet. He was fed wormy rice, rotten fish and tea spiked with hallucinogens, the motion said.

″Whenever Mr. Friedland tried to sleep, he was kicked, punished and kept awake by guards and verbally abused,″ the motion said.

Maldiven officials gave Friedland daily injections of Talacen, a mild narcotic, and Valium, an anti-anxiety drug, as well as other drugs, the motion said.

″Due to complete lack of sleep, substantial drug consumption, exhaustion and pain, Mr. Friedland was mentally and physically exhausted; the culmination of over two weeks of inhuman treatment,″ the motion said.

While in this condition, Friedland was handed over to the U.S. agents who escorted him back to the United States.

Attempts to contact Maldiven officials were unsuccessful. Calls to the Maldiven consulate in New York were not returned.

Friedland faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison for his disappearance and up to 150 years in prison if convicted of charges stemming from the second pension fund case.

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