McDougal Trial Will Begin Tuesday
By Lynda Nikula/CNN
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Sept. 4) -- The judge in Whitewater figure Susan McDougal's embezzlement case refused Friday to grant the defense's request to delay the trial.
Judge Leslie Light said opening statements will begin as scheduled Tuesday morning.
Judge Light also ruled that credit card applications in which McDougal used her sister's name and Social Security number will be allowed at trial.
According to prosecutor Jeff Semow, on some credit card applications
McDougal used the name Paula Susan McDougal. Her sister's name at the time was Paula Henley, though she has since been married and changed her last name.
During the hearing, McDougal attorney Mark Geragos said he may not put on a defense at the trial. He would not expand on his reasons outside of court because of a gag order in the case.
The judge said he received a letter from one of the jurors requesting to be dismissed from the case for hardship reasons. Judge Light said he would take up the matter Monday before opening statements.
McDougal, who was a partner with Bill and Hillary Clinton in the
controversial Whitewater land deal, is charged with embezzling about $150,000 from conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife, Nancy.
McDougal is accused of forging checks and charging hotel rooms, restaurant
tabs, plane tickets and shopping sprees between 1989 and 1992 while working as
a personal assistant and bookkeeper for the Mehtas. She is also charged with
failure to file income tax returns.
If convicted in the embezzlement case, McDougal faces up to seven years in prison.
McDougal was cited for contempt in September 1996 and served 18 months in
jail for refusing to answer questions before a Whitewater grand jury.
She recently was released from prison after serving 3 1/2 months of a two-year term for a 1996 bank fraud conviction in the Whitewater case. McDougal was convicted along with her late husband, James, and former Arkansas Gov. Jim Guy Tucker.
McDougal also faces trial Sept. 28 in federal court in Arkansas on
obstruction of justice and contempt counts stemming from her refusal in April
to answer questions about the president in front of Independent Counsel Ken Starr's Arkansas grand jury.
Geragos said he will file a motion to delay the federal trial because the
embezzlement trial is expected to last until the first week in October.