Peel ordered detained by Judge Stiehl

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 28, 2007, 5:46pm

Gary Peel, his step daughter and wife Deborah Pontious, leave the federal courthouse Wednesday afternoon with public defender Stephen Williams.

Convicted attorney Gary Peel has until noon Friday to turn himself in to the U.S. Marshall's office as ordered Wednesday afternoon by U.S. District Judge William Stiehl.

Peel was convicted last Friday by a federal jury on charges of bankruptcy fraud, obstruction of justice and possession of child pornography. He remained free on bond, but appeared in federal court in East St. Louis today for a detention hearing. Facing up to 40 years in prison, Peel will be sentenced June 25.

As soon as Stiehl announced his decision, Peel's current wife Deborah Pontious and her nine-year-old daughter cried out loud and clutched each other.

Once court was adjourned, Pontious told Peel's daughter Jennifer Cullen, "I hope you are happy that every day your son is going to hear that his grandfather is a child pornographer."

Cullen did not respond to Pontious and told reporters that she did not wish to comment on the remark or about the judge's decision to hold her father until he is sentenced.

Peel was prosecuted for blackmailing his ex-wife Deborah J. Peel with nude photos taken of her 16-year-old sister in 1974.

After his conviction, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke asked Stiehl to detain Peel in accordance with Title 18, U.S.C. § 3143.

Peel's public defender, Stephen Williams, conceded that the mandatory detention provisions contained in 18 U.S.C. § 3143(a)(2) apply to Peel's case, but argued that the law allows courts to grant discretionary release pending sentencing in such cases, where a court determines that there are "exceptional reasons" which justify continuing a defendant on bond.

Williams argued that there was clear and convincing evidence that Peel is not a flight risk or threat to the community.

Williams also argued Peel's case presented an extremely unusual factual scenario which led to the convictions for possession of child pornography.

Pontious also had a comment for Burke after the hearing.

"Thank you, Mr. Burke. Would you please try to find the person who tried to kill me?"

Pontious told reporters that someone put a black cobra snake in her home and that she has pictures to prove it.

Burke declined to comment to reporters.

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