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Archive for Friday, November 18, 2005

Wittig seeks sentence delay

November 18, 2005

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— David Wittig, the former Westar Energy Inc. chief executive officer convicted in September of looting the utility, is asking that his Jan. 9 sentencing date be pushed back to March.

In court papers filed this week, Wittig said his attorneys needed more time to review and respond to the presentencing report, which will provide staff recommendations to U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson on the length and type of punishment for Wittig.

In addition, Wittig and his co-defendant, former Westar strategy officer Douglas Lake, are fighting Westar over the forfeiture of property and legal fees advanced to the men's attorneys. The filing said Wittig and Lake may need to bring in experts to discount claims by Westar and the government about financial losses to the company, the state's largest electric utility.

Wittig added that members of his defense team will be working on other trials and taking vacations, further cutting into their ability to work on Wittig's case.

"A Jan. 9, 2006, setting simply does not accommodate the fact that the sentencing matters in this case - matters understandably crucial to the liberty interests of the defendants - will take some time to address," Wittig's attorney said in the filing.

On Sept. 12, a Kansas City, Kan., jury found Wittig and Lake guilty of wire fraud, conspiracy, money laundering and circumventing internal controls at the Topeka-based utility, where the men worked until being pushed out in late 2002. Four days later, jurors ordered the two men to turn over millions of dollars in assets, stocks and other benefits linked to their crimes, including Wittig's Topeka mansion.

U.S. Atty. Eric Melgren's office declined to comment Thursday on the filing.

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