Friday, March 5, 2004

Fiorini wants change of venue for his fraud trial



By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Citing a steady stream of adverse news coverage, former investment promoter George Fiorini is asking a federal judge to conduct his fraud and money laundering trial somewhere outside Cincinnati.

Fiorini faces 80 criminal counts, mostly stemming from the defunct 10 Percent Income Plus Plan that helped raise about $15 million from unsophisticated investors for a succession of failed ventures. His battles with the Ohio Division of Securities and the U.S. Attorney's office have thrust him onto the pages of newspapers for years, including a spot in a May 2003 edition of Malta Today in the Mediterranean.

Represented by Cincinnati lawyer Hal Arenstein, Fiorini filed a motion stating that the publicity will deny him a fair trial. He asked that the trial be moved elsewhere in Southwest Ohio. Assistant U.S. Attorney John DiPuccio said he will oppose it.

"There was press coverage, but it wasn't invasive or so pronounced that the public was inundated daily by media coverage," DiPuccio said. "This wasn't Kobe Bryant coverage."

In a separate legal salvo, Fiorini repeated his accusation that the government tried to force him into pleading guilty to crimes he didn't commit. This time, however, he said the prosecutor has an "irregularity" problem affecting his mind and preventing him from researching the "real facts" of the case.

"I now realize that I have been abducted and thrown into Pandora's Box and stuffed into a rotten bag of Medusa worms," Fiorini wrote without Arenstein's help.

DiPuccio, accustomed to Fiorini's volleys against the government, dismissed the tirade.

E-mail jmcnair@enquirer.com.




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