Heroin distribution defendant Eric Beckley showed up for his sentencing hearing on April 15, but his lawyer, Andrew Liefer of Fairview Heights, did not.
Chief Judge David Herndon of U.S. district court reset the hearing for May 8.
“We will figure out what to do, if anything, about his failure to appear,” Herndon said as he adjourned the proceedings.
Afterward Beckley’s wife, Jennifer Beckley, said Liefer missed two court hearings.
“He has missed every appointment,” she said. “He has had no contact with the family.”
“He misled his client. He is very unprofessional.”
Beckley’s sister, Erica Beckley, said, “He never returned our phone calls.”
Liefer said by phone on Wednesday that his absence was due to a scheduling error.
He said he had no comment as to his representation of Beckley.
Beckley pleaded guilty in October to charges of possessing heroin with intent to distribute it and possessing a firearm as a felon.
U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton had identified him as one of three men who sold heroin for Deborah Perkins of FairviewHeights.
Perkins supplied the drug to former St. Clair County judge Michael Cook through distributor Sean McGilvery.
She also employed her son, Douglas Oliver, as a distributor.
Perkins, Oliver, and McGilvery pleaded guilty of distribution last year, and Cook pleaded guilty of possessing heroin and using it while possessing firearms.
Beckley’s plea agreement calculated a sentencing range of 14 years to 17 years and six months, and a fine of $17,500 to $175,000.
The agreement stated that, “The government agrees to recommend a sentence and fine at the low end of the range ultimately found by the court.”
It stated that Beckley can’t withdraw his plea regardless of the sentence Herndon imposes.
The agreement left in dispute the amount of heroin relevant to the crime.
Wigginton claimed the amount exceeded 4.6 kilograms, or about 10 pounds, and Beckley reserved the right to contest that claim at his sentencing hearing.
Herndon set the hearing March 14, but Liefer moved in February to continue it.
Herndon set it April 16, but on March 24, he switched it to April 15.
On that date assistant U.S. attorney Robert Garrison and drug agent Neal Rohlfing arrived on time, as did 10 of Beckley’s family and friends.
Herndon arrived 20 minutes late, and apologized to all.
He called Liefer’s name and got no response.
He said notice was sent electronically on March 24.
Herndon asked Beckley if he heard from Liefer.
Beckley said, “He talked about coming tomorrow.”
Herndon said, “For some reason he thought April 15 was Wednesday, I guess.”
He said the government was present with an agent to testify.
“They knew to be here,” Herndon said. “We have tried to call him a number of times to no avail.”
Afterward, Jennifer Beckley said her husband learned the correct date from an inmate at St. Clair County jail.