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Court Orders Immediate Release of Torricelli Papers

A federal appeals court in Philadelphia ruled Thursday that a sentencing memo describing illegal gifts to U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli must be made public immediately.

The document outlines businessman David Chang's cooperation with the federal prosecutors.

Lawyers for a media group petitioned the court requesting that the document be made public.

Thursday's appeals court order said the document must be made public in its entirety. A court worker said it would District Court in Newark.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia had ruled Friday that the document should be made public, but court rules could have kept it sealed for at least 45 days -- putting it at Nov. 4, the day before the election.

Torricelli's lawyers argued that the immediate release would rob him of the right to adequately prepare for an appeal. He objected to the media group's argument that the information should be released in time for the public to consider the letter before the election.

Torricelli, D-N.J., is engaged in a tight race against Republican Douglas Forrester, who has made a Senate ethics committee reprimand of Torricelli a central element of his campaign.

Torricelli was never charged in a three-year government investigation, which ended in January. Chang and six others admitted making illegal donations to Torricelli's 1996 Senate campaign.

U.S. District Judge Alfred M. Wolin of Newark sentenced Chang to 18 months in federal prison in May after prosecutors certified, in a memo known as a "5K letter," that Chang had provided substantial assistance.

The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Record of Bergen County, WNBC-TV of New York and the American Broadcasting Cos. sought the release of the memo. The Star-Ledger of Newark filed papers supporting the request.