BOSTON (AP) _ A prosecution motion to award $17.1 million to victims of unapproved heart catheters made by C.R. Bard Inc. was rejected by U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro.

Tauro said Wednesday the catheter had a failure rate of 1 percent, lower than the 1.7 percent rate the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had tolerated with catheter tips.

Consumers ``suffered no greater rate of economic harm'' by using Bard catheters than catheters approved by the FDA, Tauro said.

Tauro also rejected arguments to impose more than maximum sentences on three former executives of Bard because at least two deaths were attributed to faulty Bard catheters.

Tauro said it was not clear whether ``injury was caused by the defendants' criminal conduct.''

Facing sentencing today were David Prigmore, former executive vice president of Bard; John Cvinar, former president of Bard's Billerica-based USCI division; and Lee Leichter, former vice president of the USCI division.

They were convicted one year ago of selling heart medical equipment that not been approved.

Three other executives of Bard, which is based in Murray Hill, N.J., were acquitted.

The catheters caused heart failure in at least two patients when their balloon-like tips failed to deflate and blocked the flow of blood.

Catheters are inserted into coronary arteries to unclog blockages and prevent heart attacks.

As many as 20,000 faulty catheters were sold between 1987 and 1990.

The case was tried in Massachusetts because the catheters were made in Billerica and Haverhill.

Prosecutors said it was one of the largest health-care fraud cases in U.S. history.