- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 13, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) ImClone Systems Inc. founder and former Chief Executive Officer Samuel Waksal yesterday pleaded not guilty to insider trading and fraud charges, and said charges against him should not detract from the potential of the biotechnology company's widely touted cancer drug, Erbitux, as a breakthrough treatment for cancer.
"Whatever happens to me, I know that this breakthrough therapy will one day make a real difference in the lives of many gravely ill people," Mr. Waksal said outside U.S. District Court in Manhattan, where he made his first public comments on the charges.
The 54-year-old biotech company founder entered his plea to an indictment that included both the new charges of obstruction of justice and bank fraud and previous insider-trading and perjury charges filed at the time of his June arrest.
Prosecutors had sought unsuccessfully to arrange a plea deal that would have forced Mr. Waksal to reveal, in exchange for leniency, whether he provided insider-trading tips to family and friends, including home-decorating maven Martha Stewart.
Outside court, Mr. Waksal said the case had been "extremely challenging and emotionally draining for me, my family and my friends."
He said he still believed that the company's highly touted cancer drug, Erbitux, has the potential to help millions of cancer victims and noted that he had worked for more than 10 years to try to bring the drug to the public.
"I founded ImClone in order to discover important new drugs to meet unmet medical needs of society," he said. "ImClone itself is a strong, solid company whose scientists and other employees have devoted themselves to achieving a noble goal."
Regarding the charges against him, Mr. Waksal said only that he looked forward "to addressing these charges in the appropriate forum the courts."
If convicted, he could face 30 years in prison on the bank-fraud count alone.
Mr. Waksal was arrested on charges he secretly advised family members possibly his daughter, Aliza, and father, Jack to sell their ImClone stock on Dec. 27, a day after learning that the Food and Drug Administration had rejected Erbitux.
Investigators also targeted Mrs. Stewart, chief executive of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., after learning that she disposed of nearly 4,000 shares on Dec. 27. Mrs. Stewart has denied any wrongdoing and said she had placed an order to sell ImClone if it fell below $60 a share.
However, she and her Merrill Lynch broker, Peter Bacanovic, differ on when the order was placed.
During Mr. Waksal's arraignment, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. Schachter told Judge William H. Pauley that the investigation was continuing, although the case against Mr. Waksal was "a very simple case."
The judge said a trial expected to last three to four weeks could begin either Dec. 9 or Feb. 10, depending on how long lawyers take to prepare the case and on the judge's calendar.

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