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McDougal Seeks Delay In California Trial

LOS ANGELES (July 10) -- Susan McDougal's attorney has filed for a continuance of her embezzlement trial in California.

McDougal, a key figure in the Whitewater investigation by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, is charged in California with seven counts of theft and three counts of tax evasion. McDougal has been jailed for civil contempt for refusing to answer questions before a Whitewater grand jury in Little Rock, Ark., but was released in June for medical reasons.

McDougal's attorney Mark Geragos said McDougal will not be in court for the hearing Monday in Santa Monica because of her back problems.

The California trial is scheduled to start Monday, with charges that McDougal forged checks and charged hotel rooms, plane tickets and shopping sprees while working as a bookkeeper and personal assistant to symphony conductor Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy between 1989 and 1992. McDougal is accused of stealing approximately $150,000 from the Mehtas.

Geragos noted three reasons in his request for the delay, which was filed with the court Thursday. He said the prosecution has recently produced about 1,000 pages of new material not previously disclosed to the defense. He said McDougal is required by federal court order to remain in home detention in Camden, Ark., at her parents home for 90 days from July 6, 1998. He also said McDougal is suffering from "a very serious medical condition for which she is currently being tested and evaluated. She has been advised by her physicians that she is not medically or physically able to undergo the rigors of a six-week jury trial."

McDougal is in home detention as she awaits trial in Arkansas for criminal contempt and obstruction of justice charges in the Whitewater case. That trial is scheduled to start Sept. 28.

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