Stiehl takes evidence under advisement at Peel's sentencing hearing

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 1, 2007, 5:55pm

Gary Peel

U.S. District Judge William Stiehl is taking under advisement evidence presented to him regarding the sentencing of convicted Glen Carbon attorney Gary Peel.

Peel was scheduled to learn his fate before Stiehl on Thursday. But after both sides presented their arguments Stiehl said he wanted to review all of the documents and make written orders on Peel's objections to the presentence investigation report (PSR) that was filed on May 21.

Peel, a former employee at the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River, was found guilty on four counts of obstruction of justice, bankruptcy fraud and possession of child pornography by a federal jury in East St. Louis on March 23.

He was prosecuted for blackmailing his ex-wife Deborah Peel with nude photos taken of her 16-year-old sister in 1974. He faces up to 40 years in prison plus fines up to $250,000.

Peel was originally scheduled to be sentenced on June 25. On June 6, Phillip Kavanaugh, chief federal public defender, asked Stiehl to delay the sentencing for at least 30 days so that he could file objections to the PSR. Stiehl granted the motion and set a new date for Aug. 3.

However in July, prosecutors asked Stiehl for more time to reply to Peel's objections to the PSR. Stiehl granted that motion and set the sentencing date for Oct. 1.

At the Oct. 1 hearing, Peel asked Stiehl to appoint him a new lawyer so that he can file an appeal arguing that his three federal public defenders were "inadequate."

Stiehl obliged Peel's request and on Oct. 9, appointed Daniel R. Schattnik of East Alton to consult with Peel at $94 an hour. He reset the sentencing for Nov. 1.

At the hearing, Stiehl relieved Schattnik of his duties after advising Peel that he could not make a direct appeal to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for ineffective counsel until all other aspects of the trial have been completed.

Peel said he agreed with that advice and indicated he was ready to proceed to the sentencing with his public defenders representing him.

Stiehl also told Peel that during the trial he thought the public defenders were "very diligent" and that they provided Peel a "vigorous defense."

Assistant U.S. Attorney called Deborah J. Peel's original lawyer to the witness stand to answer questions about the original divorce settlement.

He testified nearly an hour describing the divorce settlement.

Deborah Peel's lawyer was the only witness that was called to the stand by either side.

After that, Stephen Williams from the Federal Public Defenders office told Stiehl that Peel's sentence should be lighter because he is not a pedophile and that he did not use the photos for illicit purposes.

Williams also said it is possible that Deborah Peel's claim in bankruptcy court could have been discharged, therefore her intended loss is much less than the government's estimate at nearly $1 million.

Williams also argued that Peel was honest with federal agents during his proffer about how many copies of the nude photos he made.

But lead prosecutor Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Burke told Stiehl that Peel had originally told federal agents that he only had one copy of the photos when first confronted about them.

Burke told Stiehl that Peel's story changed once he was informed that the FBI had search warrants for his home and office and the number of copies went from one to three and from three to five.

After arguments Stiehl said he wanted to mull over the evidence and arguments presented to him at the hearing and that he would have his decision on the matter "as shortly as possible."

Stiehl said he would set a hearing date as soon as he was completed with the work.

Peel was remanded back into custody of the United States Marshall's Office which currently holds Peel in the Clinton County Jail.

Two former co-workers of Peel attended the hearing. Jeffrey Millar and Gerald Walters from the Lakin Law Firm sat behind Peel during the three hour hearing.

Peel's children also were in the courtroom but sat far away from their father.

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