Defense lawyers for former officials of a Youth Pride Inc. real estate spinoff demanded yesterday that government prosecutors turn over evidence the lawyers contend could help clear their clients of charges that they conspired to steal and misappropriate funds from housing projects they managed.
John W. Nields, who represents former Youth Pride executive director Mary Treadwell, said at a hearing in U.S. District Court that the prosecution has "opposed virtually every demand" for documents Nields contends would undercut criminal allegations against Treadwell.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie G. Dorsey told Judge John Garrett Penn, however, that the government has met--either in whole or in part--29 of 31 demands by Nields for documents. Dorsey said the government has refused to supply some financial information requested by Nields because it did not fall within the 1974-1978 time frame of the alleged conspiracy.
Penn took Nields' demand for the records under advisement yesterday.
The hearing was the latest episode in continuing legal skirmishing over defense access to a massive collection of documents compiled by the prosecution during a 2 1/2-year investigation of the real estate spinoff firm, P.I. Properties Inc.
By law, the government must turn over to the defense, prior to trial, any documentary evidence that it knows would contradict evidence the prosecution plans to introduce at trial, now scheduled for February 1983.
Nields said yesterday, for example, that he believes some prosecution interviews with 150 tenants at the Clifton Terrace Apartments, which were managed by P.I. Properties, would counter the government's contention that the complex was poorly managed.
Nields also said that Internal Revenue Service records, also in the government's possession, would undermine the government's claim that Treadwell's personal expenditures exceeded her reported income.
Neilds contends both points are central to the government's theory that Treadwell and her codefendants allegedly took money intended for the housing project for their own uses. The government does not believe the documents would be helpful to the defense and thus believes it does not have to surrender them.
Penn said he would privately examine the tenant interviews and the IRS reports to see if they should be turned over to the defense.
A grand jury charged in a 30-count indictment last February that Treadwell, her sister, Joan M. Booth, P.I. Properties officials Robert E. Lee and Charles W. Rinker Jr. and accountant Ronald S. Williams portrayed P.I. Properties to the government as a nonprofit business but used money from it to pay personal expenses and finance private, profit-making enterprises.
Treadwell, Lee and Rinker have consistently denied any wrongdoing. Williams has pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal agents. Last week, Booth, saying she was "terribly sorry," pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion.
At yesterday's hearing, the defense lawyers for Treadwell, Lee and Rinker protested that they were not informed in advance that Booth would plead guilty. All three said they were concerned that Booth, under questioning by Penn, acknowledged that she had been involved in a criminal conspiracy with the defendants, which they have denied.