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Whittemore lawyers argue judge can't reconsider order delaying Nevada prison term

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RENO, Nevada — Lawyers for convicted Nevada powerbroker Harvey Whittemore have argued that a federal judge cannot change an order that allows him to stay out of prison until his appeal is decided.

The attorneys filed their argument on Monday in federal court after Nevada U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden asked U.S. District Judge Larry Hicks to reconsider the delayed-prison order, the Reno Gazette-Journal (http://on.rgj.com/1lyqWo2) reported.

Defense lawyer Justin Bustos said bail decisions in criminal cases are final and the district court's order can't be reconsidered or changed.

Whittemore was convicted last year of making illegal campaign contributions to Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Prosecutors said Whittemore skirted contribution limits in 2007 by writing checks for more than $130,000 to family and employees who then made contributions to Reid's campaign. Whittemore contended the checks were gifts with no strings attached.

Hicks delayed the start of Whittemore's two-year prison sentence, saying a campaign finance case at the U.S. Supreme Court could affect Whittemore's conviction.

The high court, however, ruled on April 2 in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case in a way that did not appear to affect Whittemore's issues.

Bogden, the prosecutor, argued that justices clearly upheld limits on individual contributions to individual candidates and that the law Whittemore was convicted of breaking still stands.

Bustos countered that Bogden did not establish any basis for changing the delayed prison order.

"Indeed the government does not argue that there is newly discovered evidence or that the court's decision is clearly erroneous," Bustos said. "Moreover, it is undisputed that there has been no intervening change in controlling law."

Most importantly, Bustos said, the status of the McCutcheon case makes no difference on Whittemore's position because the judge's order delaying the prison term also mentioned other factors.

Whittemore's appeal cited errors that allegedly occurred during the trial, Bustos said.

Federal prosecutors have until April 27 to file a response to Whittemore's claims.

Reid was not accused of any wrongdoing, although he had to amend his 2007 report to the Federal Elections Commission.


Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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