Seda to stay free at least one more day

With ticket in hand, Pete Seda was ready to board an airplane Monday bound for Colorado, where he was ordered to begin serving his 33-month federal prison term on money-laundering and tax-evasion convictions.

But the 54-year-old former Ashland peace activist was granted at least one more day of freedom while waiting to appeal his 2010 convictions.

U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan on Thursday in Eugene issued an order allowing Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, to remain free until the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether he can stay free until his appeals are settled.

Federal prosecutors did not oppose Seda's defense team's motion, which was based on a 9th Circuit rule that appellants already out on bail should remain so until the appeals court decides whether to put off their prison terms during the appeal process.

In Seda's case, attorneys have said his appeals likely will take longer to settle than his sentence.

However, prosecutors have indicated they will seek an order to force Seda to report to prison quickly should the appeals court rule against him, court papers state. The 9th Circuit judges have not indicated when they plan to rule on Seda's request.

In the meantime, Seda's attorneys have asked the federal Bureau of Prisons to reconsider its decision to assign Seda to its correctional facility in Englewood, Colo., court papers state.

Seda's attorneys previously sought to have him assigned to the federal correctional facility in Sheridan so he could be closer to family members.

In recent court filings, Seda's attorneys said the former Ashland arborist has been living in a Portland apartment with his wife, Summer Rife.

He remains monitored by federal court officials and wears an electronic GPS bracelet so his whereabouts can be tracked at all times.

A jury in September 2010 convicted Seda on tax-evasion and conspiracy charges for using his defunct Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation charity to help smuggle $150,000 from Ashland to Saudi Arabia in 2000 and signing a fraudulent tax return to cover it up.

Though prosecutors argued Seda's motive was to fund Islamic terrorists in Chechnya, Hogan ruled they failed to prove that connection.

Had that connection been made, Seda could have received as much as eight years in prison under federal terrorism sentencing guidelines.

Defense filings with the appeals court so far have not detailed what issues and alleged errors in Hogan's many rulings will be the focus of the appeal, though one filing by defense attorney Larry Matasar referred to "several substantial issues."

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or email at

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