Prosecutors to Add Charges Against Reddy and Son

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OAKLAND - Federal prosecutors said at a hearing yesterday that they expect to expand the charges against Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy and his son, Vijay Kumar Lakireddy, to include more alleged victims.

U.S. Attorney John Kennedy said his office expects to produce a superseding indictment within the next several months. Reddy was indicted Feb. 1 on counts that included illegally importing Indian girls into the United States for sex, and Lakireddy was indicted on counts including visa fraud.

"The present indictment is a relatively narrow charge," Kennedy said. "It will take another two or three months to complete our investigations."

Defense attorneys had originally filed motions to dismiss the case, but Kennedy told them yesterday that new indictments were imminent. The defense team had also filed for a bill of particulars, which would further detail charges against the two defendants. Defense attorney Ted Cassman said in court documents that he needed to know the names of the girls Reddy allegedly molested in order to properly defend his client.

But before the motion was withdrawn pending a superseding indictment, U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong said she was inclined to think a bill of particulars unnecessary.

"The government need not disclose all overt acts," she said. "The defense may not use a bill of particulars as a means to achieve discovery."

However, Armstrong hinted that in future rulings she may uphold a motion to release the names of all girls allegedly involved in the case.

As he rushed his clients away from protesters after the hearing, defense attorney George Cotsirilos, who represents Lakireddy, said he was not upset by the 60-day gap between yesterday's hearing and his client's next appearance before Armstrong, scheduled for June 13.

"We don't have any control over the speed of the investigation," he said.

But as Cotsirilos spoke, angry protesters from the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action called for a new charge to be added to Reddy's list of indictments.

"One of the things we've been missing is a charge of sex assaults," said organization spokesperson Shaily Matani. "Sex requires consent. When there's such a power difference, there's no possible way for another person to give consent."

Matani referred to the case of Chanti Prattipati, who died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning Nov. 24. Authorities allege Reddy arranged for the illegal immigration of Prattipati under a false name and then was involved in a sexual relationship with the girl, whose status as a minor remains in question.

Matani said she did not want the high-profile case to make this type of occurrence look like a cultural pattern.

"The issues that are involved here are more about power than anything else," she said. "We do not want this to be isolated to the South Asian community."


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