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Published: Tuesday, 11/6/2007

May trial planned for 3rd defendant in Davis-Besse case


Jury selection has been scheduled for May 12 in the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Andrew Siemaszko, the last engineer of an indicted trio awaiting trial in connection with the Davis-Besse coverup.

Judge David Katz of U.S. District Court in Toledo has called for the trial to begin seven days later, on May 19.

Like the recently concluded trial involving engineers David Geisen and Rodney N. Cook, Mr. Siemaszko's is expected to last a month.

All three were indicted in January, 2006, on charges of lying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Prosecutors accused them of deceiving the government agency about the dangerous operating status of the Ottawa County nuclear plant in the fall of 2001, when the facility's reactor head came within weeks of bursting and allowing radioactive steam to form.

FirstEnergy Corp. has paid a record $33.5 million in criminal and civil fines for talking the NRC out of what would have been the government's first shutdown order for a nuclear plant since 1987.

The plant is along the Lake Erie shoreline, 30 miles east of Toledo.

Geisen, of DePere, Wis., faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine after being convicted Oct. 30 on three of five counts against him.

Mr. Cook, a contractor from Millington, Tenn., was acquitted on all four charges against him.

Mr. Siemaszko, of Spring, Texas, reported to Geisen. Mr. Siemaszko's trial was supposed to be first. The order was reversed because of health issues affecting Mr. Siemaszko's chief defense attorney, Billie Pirner Garde of Washington.

In his order, Judge Katz set Aug. 11 as a backup trial date, with jury selection on Aug. 4 if another delay is needed.

The case was split into two trials because defense attorneys argued their clients could not get fair trials if conflicting evidence were presented to a single jury.

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