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Prosecutors defend monitoring Aisenbergs

By LARRY DOUGHERTY

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2000


TAMPA -- Investigators followed the law in secretly recording the conversations of Steven and Marlene Aisenberg, and tapes of those conversations should not be thrown out as evidence, federal prosecutors argued in court papers filed Wednesday.

Prosecutors wrote that they found a probable basis to believe that the Aisenbergs were criminally involved in the disappearance of their 5-month-old daughter, Sabrina, based on misstatements they made to investigators.

The prosecutors also repeated accusations that the Aisenbergs' defense attorneys engaged in a campaign of distorting evidence to publicize their view that an intruder took Sabrina.

The girl has not been found. Her parents are awaiting trial on federal charges of lying about her disappearance.

In a 98-page filing, prosecutors detailed their legal justifications for tiny microphones placed in the kitchen and bedroom of the Aisenbergs' former Brandon residence.

They claimed investigators followed proper procedures in monitoring conversations and reporting the results back to Chief Hillsborough Judge F. Dennis Alvarez, who approved the eavesdropping.

The papers also disclosed that investigators chose not to monitor the microphone in the Aisenbergs' bedroom between midnight and 7 a.m. to protect "non-pertinent or legitimate marital conversations."

-- Larry Dougherty can be reached at (813) 226-3337 or dougherty@sptimes.com

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