Milken loses bid to keep memo private

September 25, 1990|By Thomas Easton | Thomas Easton,New York Bureau of The Sun

NEW YORK -- Dethroned "junk" bond king Michael Milken lost yesterday on a motion to keep a prosecutor's sentencing memorandum out of the public eye until after he is sentenced Monday.

As a result of the decision by U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, prosecutors and defense attorneys will file as early as today up to 500 pages detailing Mr. Milken's crimes. The memorandums will be heavily edited, however, to delete references to people and companies under investigation and allegations encompassing others who are not being charged with crimes, including Milken's brother and former business associate, Lowell Milken.

The decision came in response to petitions by the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and Times Mirror Inc. Milken's attorneys argued that disclosure would increase public sentiment for a harsh sentence. Judge Wood responded that public awareness of the case was already extensive and that further coverage would not bias her decision.

"The ability of the press to understand and communicate" difficult issues before the sentencing outweighs the reservations of the defendant, Judge Wood said.

In April, Milken pleaded guilty to six criminal counts and agreed to pay $600 million in penalties. He faces up to 28 years in prison. The government prosecutors' memorandum, however, is likely to detail far wider violations than were covered

in the original plea agreement.

The prosecutors have asked Judge Wood for a hearing on whether the additional charges may be considered in determining the sentence, and she indicated that the matter is under review.

The government had specifically reserved the right to present other matters before the court. That was not the case in an agreement reached late last year with former Goldman Sachs partner Robert M. Freeman, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud, and the court severely limited the scope of what could be introduced by the government at the time of sentencing.

The government, according to sources, felt burned by that decision and subsequently changed its format for such agreements.

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