Seda challenges to be heard Jan. 18

Defense lawyers for convicted money-launderer and tax evader Pete Seda will get another chance next month to overturn his conviction for illegally helping funnel money through his defunct Islamic charity in Ashland to fund Chechen acts of terror against Russians in 2000.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan on Thursday ordered oral arguments for Jan. 18 in Eugene on whether Seda's Sept. 10 conviction should be reversed and a separate motion arguing that he deserves a new trial.

Defense attorneys previously have filed reams of motions seeking a new trial, ranging from various technical issues of law to a prosecutor's alleged tossing of a Quran onto a desk during closing arguments.

Seda, 52, remains in the Lane County Jail awaiting sentencing on his conviction.

No sentencing date has been set since Hogan adjourned Seda's last hearing Nov. 23 in Eugene.

It was unclear from court filings Thursday whether the sentencing would be delayed until after the next hearing and exactly what issues will be raised in that hearing.

Federal prosecutors have asked Hogan for an eight-year prison sentence, arguing Seda's crimes fit terrorism-related enhancements under federal law.

Defense attorneys counter that the government has not directly linked Seda nor the smuggled money to terrorists and that Seda deserves a sentence limited to time already served in jail.

Hogan presided over the trial during which a jury convicted Seda of laundering a $150,000 donation from an Egyptian doctor into travelers checks and a cashier's check that co-defendant Soliman Al-Buthi, who is a Saudi Arabian national, carried out of the country without reporting it.

Government witnesses say $130,000 of it went to fund Muslim terrorists fighting the Russians in Chechnya, including a terrorist training camp.

Seda also was convicted of filing a false tax return to conceal the smuggling.

Seda claimed the money was intended as a tithe, and defense attorneys blamed the foundation's Medford accountant, Tom Wilcox, for the foundation's false tax return.

For 21/2; years, Seda was an international fugitive living in Middle Eastern countries that had no extradition agreements with the U.S. He returned and surrendered to face the charges in 2007.

Seda had remained free under federal supervision until moments after his Sept. 10 conviction, when U.S. marshals took him into custody.

Mark Freeman is a reporter for the Mail Tribune. Reach him at 541-776-4470 or e-mail at

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