April 17, 2007
Reported by Associated Press
The lead prosecutor in the corruption case against state Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom is urging appellate court judges to restore the seven charges she claims were wrongfully dismissed by the presiding judge earlier this year.
In a legal brief, prosecutor Sandra Ribes says state District Judge Don Johnson should not have dismissed three money laundering and filing false public records counts. Ribes also claimed it was legally impossible for Johnson to dismiss the four remaining counts because prosecutors had already lodged an appeal on Johnson's ruling on the money laundering and public records counts.
That appeal took the case out of Johnson's hands and put it with the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
Defense attorney Mary Olive Pierson countered in a defense motion with the First Circuit that it was prosecutors who left Johnson with no choice but to dismiss the four remaining counts. Pierson said prosecutors told Johnson they would not continue because of the questions over jurisdiction.
The appeal to the First Circuit is the latest in a case that began in the fall of 2002 with a 21-count indictment. Charges were dropped by prosecutors and others have been eliminated by Johnson, resulting in the seven that remained at the start of this year. The seven counts included two counts of bribery and one count each of conspiracy to commit bribery, money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, felony theft and filing false public records.
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