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Journalist pleads guilty in impersonation case

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    NMU         OHIO         Newsgathering         Jan 15, 2002    

Journalist pleads guilty in impersonation case

  • A Los Angeles-based reporter for a Japanese newspaper admitted that he falsely identified himself three times to get documents about accused scientists.

A reporter for a Japanese newspaper on Jan. 14 pleaded guilty to pretending he was a federal official so that he could secure documents about scientists accused of theft.

Avi Lidgi, a reporter in the Los Angeles bureau of the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, faces up to three years in prison and fines up to $250,000.

Federal officials claimed Lidgi, 27, falsely identified himself three times last May in an attempt to get a list of government exhibits in the cases faxed to him. They said Lidgi secured a list of the exhibits from defense attorneys and prosecutors by saying he was a federal prosecutor and a judge’s assistant.

A grand jury in Cleveland indicted Lidgi on Dec. 12. Lidgi’s sentencing is set for April 12.

The government secrets case involves two scientists accused of stealing research material from the Cleveland Clinic. Both Hiroaki Serizawa of the University of Kansas Medical Center and Takashi Okamoto, a former clinic scientist, pleaded innocent and face a trial in May.

(U.S. v. Lidgi) PT

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