ANCHORAGE - The trial of state Sen. John Cowdery on conspiracy and bribery charges has been delayed until at least January, after the senator's attorney requested more time to review a "staggering" number of surveillance recordings made by the FBI.
Prosecutors also agreed with the delay, as they are part of the team trying the case against U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens later this month.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline approved the new trial date last Friday. The trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 6, but it's now scheduled to start Jan. 12.
Cowdery, 78, pleaded not guilty to federal counts of bribery and conspiracy last month. He's accused of trying to bribe a fellow state senator with $25,000 from VECO Corp., an oil company.
Cowdery, a three-term Republican state senator, is not seeking re-election. He has been absent from the Legislature much of the last year, citing poor health.
Prosecutors turned over material that includes "approximately 11 months of ... wire tap interceptions from multiple telephone lines, numerous months of separately authorized ... video and audio interceptions, and other electronic evidence," assistant U.S. attorney James Goeke wrote in a motion last week.
According to a recording of a status hearing in the case, defense attorney Kevin Fitzgerald told Beistline: "The amount we've received in this case I would characterize as staggering."
The index to the materials alone is 600 pages, Fitzgerald said.
"The index is 600 pages?" Beistline asked.
"Yes," Fitzgerald said.
"Holy moly," the judge responded.
Fitzgerald told Beistline he is trying to get a more descriptive index from prosecutors, so that at least names of the people recorded are listed to separate what's important for his case. The index now only has dates, he said.
He is also requesting transcripts of key recordings, such as one conducted in 2006 where Cowdery met with VECO executives.
Goeke said that the government could provide the transcripts now that the trial has been delayed.
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