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Bourke Loses Motion For New Trial

Frederic Bourke on Thursday lost what may be his final bid to stay out of prison.

Just a day after a federal appeals court upheld Bourke's conviction in 2009 of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, U.S. district court judge Shira Scheindlin denied Bourke's request for a new trial. He had argued that his first trial was tainted by perjury from Hans Bodmer, a key witness for the prosecution.

Bourke is facing a year and a day in prison and a million dollar fine. He's been out on bail while his appeal was pending. Judge Scheindlin hasn't said when Bourke must begin serving his jail sentence.

In arguing for a new trial, Bourke said some of Hans Bodmer's testimony was false, including the day on which Bodmer said he talked with Bourke about Viktor Kozeny's plans to bribe Azeri government officials to win a privatization deal. Bourke said prosecutors knew or should have known Bodmer would lie on the stand about a crucial date.

Bodmer, a Swiss lawyer who worked for Kozeny, is still waiting to be sentenced more than seven years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to launder money. His cooperation with prosecutors could earn him a lighter sentence.

Judge Scheindlin said Thursday in a 28-page order that prosecutors conceded that Bodmer was 'obviously mistaken in his recollection of the details of the walk and talk' he had with Bourke. But the jury could still credit Bodmer’s testimony about the substance of the conversation, she said.

'The flight records are difficult to read and interpret,' Judge Scheindlin said. She continued:

It is conceivable that the Government did not cross-check the details of Bodmer’s anticipated testimony against these difficult to decipher flight records. Moreover, the flight records do not contradict the substance of Bodmer’s testimony concerning his “walk and talk” with Bourke. Contrary to defendant’s position, the flight records do not prove that Bodmer fabricated the entire event. Rather, the flight records merely show that Bodmer was mistaken about the date and time of the “walk and talk.”

Bourke, 65, is co-founder of well-known handbag brand Dooney & Bourke. He was married to Eleanor Clay Ford, whose mother was Henry Ford's only granddaughter. The jury found that he invested in Czech-born promoter Viktor Kozeny's unsuccessful attempt in 1998 to gain control of Azerbaijan's state oil company, Socar, despite knowing Kozeny planned to bribe Azeri leaders.

Kozeny was also charged in the case but has been a fugitive living in the Bahamas for more than a decade. He beat back an attempt by the Bahamas attorney general to extradite him to the U.S. The Bahamas government has appealed his extradition to the U.K. Privy Council.

Download a copy of Judge Shira Scheindlin's December 15, 2011 opinion and order denying Frederic Bourke's motion for a new trial here.

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