Judge Dismisses Charges Against One Grace Defendant

By Beacon Staff

MISSOULA – Federal prosecutors Monday asked the court to dismiss the charges against one of five former W.R. Grace executives, saying they did not have sufficient evidence to prove the guilt of Robert C. Walsh beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy accepted the request and dismissed the charges.

The government alleged that Columbia, Md.-based Grace, Walsh and four other former Grace executives concealed health risks posed by asbestos-laced vermiculite from a northwestern Montana mine that closed in 1990.

The development came at the end of a pivotal day in the Grace trial with defense attorneys pressing Molloy to dismiss the charges against the company and remaining defendants and Molloy telling prosecutors they “presented discombobulated allegations and you don’t understand the evidence yourself.”

Molloy did not rule immediately on the defense motions to dismiss.

“The prosecution team has been bullheaded from the beginning in this case,” Molloy said.

The trial began two months ago.

Monday’s hearing on the defense motions for dismissal was held with the jury absent. Jurors were due back in court Tuesday morning.

Molloy raised the possibility of declaring a mistrial and said he mistrusts the testimony of a key government witness, Robert Locke.

“Do you want to have these jurors convict someone on perjured testimony?” Molly asked.

“We don’t believe it’s perjured testimony,” replied Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Racicot

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