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Archive for Friday, October 17, 2003

Westar CEO’s sentencing delayed

Monday hearing postponed until Dec. 1 for former utility chief

October 17, 2003

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— Sentencing has been postponed for former Westar Energy chief David Wittig and co-defendant Clinton Odell Weidner II, convicted of six federal felonies each in a federal loan-conspiracy case.

Sentencing had been scheduled for Monday but was delayed until Dec. 1 to give federal prosecutors and defense attorneys more time to prepare.

Wittig was found guilty July 14 of conspiracy, four counts of making false bank entries and one count of money laundering. The case involved a $1.5 million loan he made to Weidner, former president and chief executive of Capital City Bank in Topeka. Weidner, who pleaded guilty to two of the false-bank-entry charges on the eve of the trial, was convicted of charges identical to Wittig's.

The government argued that Wittig and Weidner conspired to conceal the loan to Weidner, which Weidner used to invest in a residential real estate development near Phoenix.

As part of its case, the government alleged that Wittig made the loan in exchange for Weidner's agreement to help secure up to $20 million in financing for Wittig and other Westar executives. Wittig and the executives planned to use the financing to buy stock in a proposed Westar spin-off, which regulators blocked.

Wittig and Weidner contend there was insufficient evidence to convict them and have asked U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson to grant them either a new trial or acquittal on the charges.

If Wittig and Weidner are sentenced to prison terms, they will ask Robinson to set bond for them, pending their appeals in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals of the convictions.

After the convictions, Jim Eisenbrandt, a Prairie Village attorney defending Wittig, and Robert Eye, a Topeka attorney representing Weidner, said they expected the prison terms to be much less than the maximum sentences of 135 years for the convictions, and Eye said he thought they "probably" would be less than 10 years.

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