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Judge Threatens To Set Waksal Trial Date

Jan 6, 2003 | AP Frustrated by their inaction, a federal judge Monday threatened to force ImClone founder Samuel Waksal to go to trial unless he and his lawyers provide personal information necessary to sentence him on his securities fraud plea.

"Absolutely nothing has been provided, not even a Social Security card," Manhattan U.S. District Court Judge William H. Pauley said of the case that has put the spotlight on the stock dealings of Waksal's friend, Martha Stewart.

"I'm disappointed by what I see here," Pauley said. He then told lawyers that he would schedule a trial on other charges to which Waksal did not enter a plea if he did not see speedy progress toward a sentencing that he set for March 17.

Waksal, 55, who appeared relaxed and smiling before the proceeding, was not asked to speak during the brief morning conference. He and his lawyer, Mark Pomerantz, declined to comment as they left court.

"The defendant has done everything anybody asked of him," Pomerantz said in court of Waksal, who pleaded guilty in October to securities fraud, bank fraud, conspiracy to obstruct justice, obstruction of justice and perjury.

The former ImClone chief executive admitted at the time that he tipped off his daughter to sell ImClone stock before it plunged on bad news from the Food and Drug Administration about an ImClone drug.

Pomerantz said the defense team was delayed in providing information to the Probation Department because it was unable to get its hands on Waksal's personal records because they were at ImClone offices, buried in 70 boxes.

"You don't need 70 boxes of financial records for the Probation Department to complete that area of the report," the judge said.

Then he noted that Waksal must have copies of personal tax reports, adding, "He's not doing whatever he's doing on the back of a brown paper bag."

Pomerantz said access to Waksal's longtime accountant had been interrupted by the investigation into ImClone.

That probe has focused on an insider trading scandal surrounding Waksal, his family and Stewart.

Waksal was arrested in June on charges of passing along information that the FDA would not review his company's experimental cancer drug, Erbitux. He is free on bail.

At sentencing, Waksal could face a total of 65 years in prison and millions of dollars in fines, although he is expected to serve far less.

The judge regularly addresses Waksal in court as doctor because Waksal holds a doctorate in immunobiology. He also has a $20 million art collection, including a Picasso, and a circle of friends that includes Revlon CEO Ron Perelman and rock star Mick Jagger.

But it is his friendship with Stewart that has drawn the most attention.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Stewart lied to congressional investigators about her sale of nearly 4,000 ImClone shares on Dec. 27 the day before the FDA publicly announced its Erbitux decision.

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