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Judge Delays Malvasi-Marra Trial

Federal Judge Richard Arcara
Federal Judge Richard Arcara

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – U.S. District Court Judge Richard Arcara is indefinitely delaying the trial of Dennis Malvasi and Loretta Marra. Jury selection was scheduled to begin Tuesday morning.

Arcara ordered the delay so that he can consider a motion filed by federal prosecutors Monday to dismiss a six count indictment against the couple. The government has instead filed a new, single charge in New York City of conspiracy to harbor a fugitive. Malvasi and Marra are accused of helping James Kopp elude authorities for two-and-a-half years following the murder of Dr. Barnett Slepian.

Malvasi's attorney, Thomas Eoannou, says prosecutors believe a Buffalo trial would expose confidential sources, witnesses and evidence in the pending Kopp case. Eoannou says if Arcara rules in favor of the motion, the couple's case would move to New York City.

"I can't second guess the judge. The only thing I can tell you is that the case law is very strong that this judge should not decide this case and that there should be great deference given to the motion, particularly by the government that it is not in the public interest to go forward," Eoannou said.

Assistant U.S. attorney Kathleen Mehltretter confirmed that the motion was filed, but did not want to comment on the matter.

Kopp was arrested last year in France and now faces federal and state charges in connection with Slepian's murder.

Malvasi and Marra had entered guilty pleas to aiding and abetting Kopp to avoid a trial, but the plea deal was rejected in August by Arcara. The judge thought the deal was too "lenient."