Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judge Deals Legal Setbacks to Amiel Cueto's Defense Chides Attorneys for `Meritless Accusations'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Judge Deals Legal Setbacks to Amiel Cueto's Defense Chides Attorneys for `Meritless Accusations'

Article excerpt

*Cueto and the others are charged with conspiracy and obstructing justice in connection with the Thomas Venezia case.

A federal judge has delivered two setbacks to the defense in the conspiracy case against lawyer Amiel Cueto of Belleville and two other men.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh has removed the attorney for one of the men and has threatened Cueto's attorneys with sanctions if they file any more motions with what the judge called "persistent meritless accusations" of misconduct by federal prosecutors. Cueto and the others are charged with conspiracy and obstructing justice in what prosecutors say was an attempt to block the investigation that led to the conviction of Thomas Venezia of Belleville a year ago. Venezia operated a video-gambling and racketeering scheme that agents said grossed almost $37 million over six years. Charged with Cueto, 47, is Venezia, 53, who is already serving a 15-year term, and Robert S. Romanik, 47, of Belleville, a private investigator and former police chief in Washington Park. They have denied the charges, and Cueto predicted he would be "fully vindicated" in a trial expected to start next spring. On Thursday, Limbaugh ordered lawyer Barry Short of St. Louis removed as Romanik's attorney, giving him until Jan. 3 to find a new attorney. Limbaugh agreed with prosecutors that Short had conflicts of interest in the case, including the fact that one of the partners in Short's law firm, Frederick J. Hess of Belleville, was the U.S. attorney in East St. Louis when the investigation of Venezia began several years ago. Limbaugh also agreed that Short had a conflict because he had received legal fees from the 1967 Corp. …

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