Archive for Sunday, June 27, 2004

Westar’s Lake wants separate trial from Wittig

June 27, 2004

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— Former Westar Energy executive Douglas Lake should be tried separately from the company's former president, chairman and chief executive officer, Lake's attorneys said in a federal court motion.

Lake, 54, of New Canaan, Conn., is Westar's former executive vice president of corporate strategy. He and David Wittig, 48, of Topeka, are scheduled for trial Sept. 7 on charges of looting the utility.

In papers filed Friday, the deadline for defense motions, Lake's attorneys wrote that he feared "guilt by association" if he was tried with Wittig.

Westar's former head already has six felony convictions, stemming from an unrelated trial in July 2003. He was convicted of conspiracy, money laundering and making false bank entries.

"Put simply, being tried together with Mr. Wittig will render Mr. Lake guilty by association in the jury's eyes, preventing it from making a reliable determination as to Mr. Lake's innocence or guilt," according to Lake's attorneys, Gaye Tibbets and Edward Little.

In the case scheduled for upcoming trial, each faces 40 criminal counts ranging from conspiracy to making false statements to the Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service.

Federal prosecutors also are trying to seize $25.5 million from Wittig and $7.5 million from Lake.

The indictment also refers to Wittig seeking claims of $40 million against Westar and Lake seeking $16 million from the company. Lake's defense team wants those references taken out.

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