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Aisenbergs' plea set for Sept. 29


© St. Petersburg Times, published September 14, 1999

TAMPA -- Steven and Marlene Aisenberg's arraignment on federal charges that they lied about the kidnapping of their daughter Sabrina two years ago has been scheduled for Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. in Tampa.

It will be their first court appearance to answer to the indictment lodged by a federal grand jury last week. The indictment quoted electronic surveillance of the Aisenbergs' home that indicated Steve Aisenberg caused his daughter's death and Marlene Aisenberg participated in an extensive coverup.

The charges followed more than a year of national broadcast interviews with the Aisenbergs, who denied any involvement in the disappearance of their daughter and pleaded for her return.

Authorities said they didn't have enough evidence to bring a murder charge in Sabrina's death. Instead, the grand jury indicted the couple on charges of lying about a number of particulars in their kidnapping report on the morning of Nov. 24, 1997: how they learned Sabrina was missing, how they reacted, even what Marlene Aisenberg was wearing at the time.

At the short, routine hearing, the Aisenbergs are expected to enter pleas of not guilty to a magistrate judge. The court will also confirm that the Aisenbergs will have a lawyer, who by all indications is going to be Barry Cohen of Tampa. Cohen said last week the Aisenbergs, who have been living in Maryland since early this year, plan to mount a vigorous defense.

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