Hearing on Milken's criminality to aid in determining sentence


NEW YORK -- Michael R. Milken's character goes on trial next week in an unusual hearing ordered by U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood to help her determine the severity of his punishment.

Was he guilty of isolated acts of overzealousness on behalf of clients, as his lawyers contend, or was he guilty of a pattern of criminal wrongdoing that involved cheating his clients, as prosecutors claim?

Milken, 44, former "junk bond" king of now-defunct Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc. and the subject for nearly four years of a massive federal probe into criminal activity on Wall Street, pleaded guilty in April to six felonies and agreed to pay fines and restitution totaling $600 million. He faces up to 28 years in prison.

Judge Wood yesterday ordered the unusual "Fatico hearing" (named after Daniel Fatico, a defendant in a 1979 truck hijacking case) to begin Tuesday after the two sides in the case were unable to agree that such a hearing was unnecessary.

Prosecutors said they will present as many as 14 witnesses, which could include Milken's chief accuser, Ivan F. Boesky.

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