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Bourke in New-Trial Bid Says U.S. Offered False Testimony

Frederic Bourke, the co-founder of handbag maker Dooney & Bourke who was convicted of joining in a bribery conspiracy, told an appeals court that he wants a new trial because prosecutors presented false testimony.

Bourke was convicted in 2009 of conspiring to violate U.S. anti-corruption laws by joining in a bribery scheme in a 1998 oil deal in Azerbaijan. He was sentenced to one year in prison. A federal appeals court upheld his conviction in December.

Separately, Bourke asked the trial judge for a new trial or to reopen his case so his lawyers could question a prosecutor on whether he permitted a witness to give false testimony. The judge denied the request. Bourke filed his appeal April 10 in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan.

“The government maintains that the prosecutor may sponsor testimony he knows or should know is false, as long as evidence demonstrating the falsity is presented to the jury eventually,” Bourke’s lawyers wrote in court papers. “Bourke contends that a federal prosecutor may never present testimony he knows or should know is false.”

Prosecutors deny that they knowingly presented false testimony. In her December ruling, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan said Bourke had leapt to the conclusion that the government had done so.

Bourke was accused of joining in a bribery scheme led by Czech-born businessman Viktor Kozeny to buy Azerbaijan’s state oil company.

Lawyer’s Testimony

At issue is testimony from Hans Bodmer, a Swiss lawyer who pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Bodmer said he told Bourke about the bribery scheme in a morning conversation on Feb. 6, 1998, while Bourke presented proof at the trial that he wasn’t then in Azerbaijan.

Defense lawyers now say prosecutors may have known Bodmer would give false testimony, which prosecutors deny.

Kozeny, who has also been accused in the bribery case, has successfully fought extradition from the Bahamas, where he lives.

The Bourke case is U.S. v. Bourke, 05-cr-00518, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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