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Ex-Charter Exec Smith Cries Foul

Former Charter Communications Inc. senior vice president James H. "Trey" Smith III testified Friday that federal prosecutors backed out of a promise to give him immunity, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The indicted Smith said at a hearing in U.S. District Court in St. Louis that he agreed last year to give prosecutors information only after receiving a promise of immunity.

However, the U.S. attorney's office -- which filed the indictment against Smith and three other former Charter executives in July -- denied making any promise of immunity.

Neil Peck, a former federal prosecutor who is defending Smith, told the Post-Dispatch
that after an FBI agent contacted Smith Aug. 2, 2002, he spoke with James Martin, an assistant U.S. attorney in St. Louis.

Martin and an FBI agent flew to Denver Aug. 7, 2002, to meet Smith at Peck's law office, the newspaper report continued. But Peck told the Post-Dispatch
he agreed to let Smith talk only after Martin made a verbal promise to give Smith immunity from prosecution if the information Smith provided could prove a case against Charter.

Peck filed in court a copy of what he identified as his notes from the meeting, which said, "If we get sufficient info from you to prove a case, we will give you the immunity requested," the newspaper reported.

Peck told the Post-Dispatch
he was stunned when Martin told him Smith would be charged with fraud. "It shocked me," Peck said. "It outraged me."