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Government Targets Olympic Bidders

December 14, 2000

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Despite defense efforts to portray $1 million in cash, gifts, travel, and scholarships given to International Olympic Committee members as ``goodwill gifts,″ government prosecutors insist it was unmistakably bribery.

``The government will prove this by showing that the payoffs were in gross violation of the IOC’s charter and bid regulations,″ said a brief filed Wednesday in federal court.

``Whether or not the IOC was aware that some IOC members had taken payoffs in the past would not negate the IOC’s lack of consent to the payoffs at issue in this case.″

The 65-page brief was filed in response to defense motions seeking the dismissal of a 15-count indictment against Tom Welch, the bid chief, and Dave Johnson, his deputy.

A hearing before U.S. Magistrate Ronald Boyce has yet to be scheduled.

Justice Department attorneys also insist they have disclosed enough information for Welch and Johnson to get a fair trial on charges of bribery, conspiracy and fraud.

The trial has been set for June.

In the brief, the government renewed allegations that Welch and Johnson paid off IOC delegates and concealed their activities from the Salt Lake bid committee’s hapless board of trustees by drafting phony contracts and cooking the bid committee’s books.

In their motions, defense lawyers ridiculed the government’s sweeping conspiracy case as ``bound only by the earth’s atmosphere.″

Prosecutors responded, ``This argument is utterly without merit and simply ignores the defendants’ willingness to use Utah as a base from which to seek out ways to unlawfully influence votes wherever they were for sale.″

Welch and Johnson are charged with trying to bribe IOC members from at least 15 countries.

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