Former Bid Officials Plead Innocent

Tom Welch and Dave Johnson, two former Olympic officials, pled innocent Monday to charges stemming from the Salt Lake City scandal. The two were indicted on one court of conspiracy, five counts of mail fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and four counts of interstate travel in aid of racketering. Each charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years or a fine of $250,000 or both.

Defence lawyers for the two will now sift through the government’s case and question IOC members who figure in the federal bribery indictment. A defence strategy is to get banished IOC committee members to testify that the kind of lavish gifts and favours given by Welch and Johnson was only business as usual inside the Olympic movement, and not bribery.

If the two sides fail to negotitate a plea agreement by October 9, a trial would begin on October 16. But if the trial is pushed back, then it would start just as Salt Lake City is gearing up for the Winter Games, February 8 to 24, 2002.

Welch and Johnson were allowed to keep their passports over the objection of federal prosecutors so they can attend overseas depositions. But they were given a week to clear their homes of firearms. A felony conviction would forbid either of them from owning guns.