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Friday, 29 June, 2001, 01:17 GMT 02:17 UK
Salt Lake Olympic bid charges upheld
Salt Lake City bid leader Tom Welch
Salt Lake City bid leader Tom Welch denies all charges
Bribery charges against the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics bid chiefs have been upheld by a US judge.

The bid officials stood accused of influencing IOC members who awarded them the 2002 Winter Olympics.

The ruling confirmed charges of mail, wire and honest-services fraud against bid leader Tom Welch and his deputy Dave Johnson.

US magistrate Ronald Boyce previously upheld conspiracy and racketeering charges.

The rulings are only recommendations to the trial judge - but these are usually accepted.

A charge of bribery conspiracy, accusing Welch and Johnson of 92 acts of alleged bribery, has already been upheld.

The bribery is said to range from handing out scholarships to children of IOC members to giving one IOC member a dog.

Welch and Johnson are accused of giving IOC members with $1m (710,000) in cash and perks.

Lavished

In their defence, Welch and Johnson say they had no choice but to give favours to IOC members and that the practice is not criminal.

They also say that bid cities cannot know how IOC members cast their secret votes.

Deputy bid leader Dave Johnson
Deputy bid leader Dave Johnson
Boyce rejected every defence argument and told prosecutors they do not have to prove Welch and Johnson intended to harm their board of trustees, who claim they did not know how much of their money was lavished on IOC members.

Prosecutors will argue the bid leaders hid or cloaked many of their payments from their board.

In addition, Boyce ruled the government does not have to prove Welch or Johnson benefited personally from any dealings.

Despite this ruling, prosecutors still argue that the bid leaders stand to collect huge bonuses after the Games, and if they argue this at trial it could lead to a fraud conviction.

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28 Jun 01 |  Other Sports
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