UPDATE: Trial of first 5 defendants in Price Lab case underway - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

UPDATE: Trial of first five defendants in Price Lab case underway

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Tuesday, the first five defendants in the Price Lab case were in court.  They're accused of cutting corners on tuition rates to send their kids to the Cedar Falls school.  They're charged with tampering with records and submitting incorrect addresses to save money.

Proceedings started Tuesday morning with the judge hearing a number of pre-trial motions.  And there seems to be a few sticking points that could determine how the case is decided.

Two of the five defendants facing trial in the Price Lab case listened in as attorney argued what points the judge will allow to come before a jury.  The big issues remain:  whether the defense can argue that Price Lab never should've been able to charge tuition in the first place, and if getting permission from the school's then-director Dave Smith to submit incorrect addresses made it okay.

"In claiming that these people misrepresented their address for the purpose of avoiding tuition, means the house of cards upon which this case is built, now collapses in on itself and the charge no longer exists," said Dave Dutton, defense attorney.

"We're talking about whether or not parents falsified a record and whether or not they intended to deceive or conceal any wrong doing.  Those are the two elements of the offense.  The legality of the school to do that plays no role in what the parents did or what they were thinking at the time," said Scott Brown, Iowa's Assistant Attorney General. 

The judge took some of those issues under advisement, and he also ruled the Price Lab's former director Dave Smith won't be allowed to testify since he's indicated that he would invoke his 5th Amendment rights to all questions he would be asked.

The next challenge is finding an impartial jury.  One juror was dismissed because her mother could be called as a witness.  Another was removed after saying he couldn't be impartial due to personal connections with Price Lab and one of the defendants.  A handful of others were excused after admitting they learned information and formed opinions about the case through media coverage.

Jury selection will wrap up Wednesday morning.  Opening arguments should begin around noon.  Several witnesses will be called to testify, including the defendants and UNI President Ben Allen. 

The remaining four defendants in the Price Lab case, including former state representative Kerry Burt, are slated for trial next week.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek



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