Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Frederic Bourke, the co-founder of handbag maker Dooney & Bourke who was convicted of joining in a foreign bribery conspiracy, lost his bid for a hearing into whether prosecutors presented false testimony at his trial.
Bourke was convicted in 2009 of conspiring to violate U.S. anti-corruption laws by joining in a bribery plot in a 1998 oil deal in Azerbaijan. A Manhattan federal judge sentenced him to one year in prison. A federal appeals court upheld his conviction last year.
Separately, Bourke had 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, and the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan today upheld the judge’s ruling. At issue was a statement a prosecutor made during an argument in court.
“As the district court explained, it is difficult to see how a prosecutor’s hypothetical response to a hypothetical situation on appeal is evidence, newly discovered or otherwise,” the appeals court said.
Bourke was accused of joining in a bribery scheme led by Czech-born businessman Viktor Kozeny to buy Azerbaijan’s state oil company.
His current claim focused on testimony from Hans Bodmer, a Swiss lawyer who pleaded guilty and cooperated with prosecutors. Bodmer said he told Bourke about the bribery plot in a morning conversation on Feb. 6, 1998. Bourke presented proof at the trial that he wasn’t then in Azerbaijan. The government argued that Bodmer may have been mistaken about the date.
Defense lawyers said Bodmer gave false testimony and prosecutors should have known he did. Prosecutors deny the claims.
Kozeny, who has also been accused in the bribery case, has successfully fought extradition to the U.S. from the Bahamas, where he lives.
Bourke’s lawyer, Michael Tigar, said in an e-mailed statement that he will ask the appeals court to consider the case again.
Bourke has been free on bail since his conviction.
The case is U.S. v. Bourke, 11-5390-cr, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).
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