Attorney claims to have more dirt on IOC
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Salt Lake's indicted Olympic bid leaders can expose more International Olympic Committee members not previously linked to the bribery scandal, a defense lawyer said.
"There were many IOC members who received gifts in addition to those identified in the indictment," Max Wheeler, a lawyer for Dave Johnson, said Tuesday. "There will be other evidence offered that has yet to be publicized."
Wheeler wouldn't identify the IOC members or the kind of unreported gifts they received. Part of his reluctance may be the result of criticism from prosecutors Monday for speaking out about the case.
Wheeler may be bluffing, and the everybody-did-it defense won't sway a jury, IOC vice president Dick Pound, who led his organization's investigation into the Salt Lake scandal, said Tuesday.
Pound worked off documents provided by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and used by its ethics panel to implicate 24 IOC members, one-fifth of the organization. Wheeler said he has information incriminating even more members.
But Pound said he narrowed the 24 implicated by Salt Lake's ethics panel to 14 members worthy of punishment ranging from expulsion to reprimand.
It's known that Johnson keeps his own set of Olympic documents going back a dozen years, and former bid boss Tom Welch may have more records. Pound conceded he may not have seen all relevant evidence but said there was nothing new in the 35-page indictment against Johnson and Welch.
Welch and Johnson pleaded innocent Monday to a felony indictment charging they dispensed $1 million in cash, scholarships and gifts to 15 IOC members.
Of the 15, five were expelled from the IOC, four quit, four received warnings and two died before action could be taken against them. Banished IOC delegate Jean Claude Ganga of the Republic of Congo had his hand deepest in the till, taking $320,000 in cash and first-class travel, according to the indictment.
Now, Wheeler says he can offer dirt on other IOC members, but he refuses to show his hand.
"It was common practice for IOC members to receive gifts," he said.
His sometimes bombastic claims have irked Justice Department prosecutors Richard Wiedis and John Scott, who have consistently refused to publicly comment.
Wiedis refused to comment Tuesday but was amused by the defense plan to unmask still more IOC members -- hardly a threat to the prosecution's case.
Pound summed up all the finger-pointing as the "your-mother-wears-Army-boots defense."
Wheeler, a former U.S. Attorney for Utah, said the prosecutors complained Monday that his statements verging close to trial evidence were crossing an ethical line. Defense lawyers and prosecutors made a gentlemen's agreement to keep their comments in check.
But it's doubtful that will muzzle Wheeler.
Before Welch and Johnson were indicted July 20, Wheeler revealed that one charge would accuse them of pocketing $130,000 from an Olympic sponsor. Wheeler offered a pre-emptive rebuttal, saying the defense can prove Welch and Johnson didn't keep the money for personal gain.