Seda's lawyers seek chance to cross-examine feds in his case

Seda's lawyers seek chance to cross-examine feds in his case

Pete Seda's lawyers want a chance in open court to grill prosecutors in his money-laundering and tax-cheat case over why they failed to turn over evidence before the trial that the deceased husband of a witness against Seda was a paid FBI informant.

Seda's lawyers in court papers filed this week said they deserve the right to cross-examine in U.S. District Court two federal prosecutors and two federal agents over their "outrageous conduct."

Federal prosecutors Chris Cardani and Charles Gorder, as well as FBI Special Agent David Carroll and Internal Revenue Service Special Agent Colleen Anderson, already have filed sworn affidavits about their actions and decisions over how they handled past and planned cash payments to Richard and Barbara Cabral in the case.

But Federal Public Defender Steven Wax wants those federal agents and prosecutors to face cross-examination on the stand about what Wax's court papers called inconsistencies that point to "knowledge, intent, recklessness, and willful blindness of the prosecution team" in this case.

"The power of cross-examination is the greatest test for the discovery of truth," Wax wrote in Monday's court filings.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Zussman, who has handled this part of Seda's case, which spans more than seven years and has generated 548 court filings so far, has until Thursday afternoon to file the government's response.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan, who presided over Seda's trial, has not indicated when he will rule on Seda's latest request. In earlier court filings, Hogan has called the disclosure failures inadvertent mistakes that would not have changed the outcome of the trial, though Seda's lawyers have continued to argue that it robbed them of information they deserved for Barbara Cabral's cross-examination.

The legal side-show continues to play out as Seda awaits sentencing from his felony conviction for helping smuggle $150,000 through his Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation chapter in Ashland in 2000 to fund Muslim rebels in Chechnya deemed by the U.S. government as terrorist while fighting Russia for independence.

Prosecutors have sought to have Seda sentenced to eight years in prison under federal terrorism-enhancement rules, though Seda has not been labeled by the government as a supporter of terrorism. However, his Al-Haramain chapter and codefendant — a Saudi national named Soliman Al-Buthe — have been labeled supporters of terrorism and both are fighting that designation.

After Seda's conviction, Carroll asked U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton to approve a $7,500 payment for Medford resident Barbara Cabral, whose late husband, Richard Cabral, was paid $14,500 while providing information to the FBI about Seda and other Muslims in the area after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to court documents.

Holton refused to authorize the payment and informed defense lawyers his prosecutors had failed to tell them about the past payments before the trial. Holton then assigned Zussman to handle the post-trial litigation.

Barbara Cabral testified at Seda's trial that she and her husband worshipped at Seda's prayer house in Ashland, and she went with him on a pilgrimage to Mecca, where Seda asked them to donate $400 in leftover travel money to buy food and blankets for mujahedeen fighting the Russian Army in Chechnya.

Defense lawyers argue that her testimony is the only hard evidence prosecutors had on their contention that Seda meant the $150,000 to go to mujahedeen in Chechnya.

Holton's disclosures led to new motions by Seda's lawyers that his conviction should be thrown out, and he should be granted a new trial because they had not been able to use the payments to discredit the testimony of a key witness.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or e-mail at

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