Tom Lakin will have one trial after all, judge rules

Steve Gonzalez Nov. 29, 2007, 12:23pm


United States District Judge J. Phil Gilbert ruled again that Tom Lakin will have just one trial.

The original trial date was set for January, however, now it will take place on March 17, 2008.

Gilbert made his decision at a Nov. 28 conference call between lawyers for Lakin and the prosecutor.

On Oct. 31, Gilbert granted Tom Lakin's request for two separate trials, one over drug charges and one over sex charges.

Lakin filed a motion in July arguing that joinder of the criminal charges is improper under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 8 and 14.

He asked that the charges not be tried together because of their different natures.

Lakin was indicted in April by a federal grand jury in East St. Louis. He has been charged with eight counts involving cocaine distribution and transporting an underage male across state lines with the intent to engage in sexual activity.

However, on Nov. 14, a second superseding indictment was returned against Lakin which increased the total number of charges against Lakin from eight to 18.

Prosecuting U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark previously argued that all counts in Lakin's case are "connected with or constitute parts of a common scheme or plan."

Clark also argued that evidence will show Lakin's drug activities are inextricably intertwined with the charged sex crimes in that Lakin allegedly distributed drugs to "Jane Does" to induce them to have sex with a minor identified as John Doe, a boy with whom Lakin allegedly engaged in oral sex and with whom he allegedly transported across state lines in the hopes of having illegal sexual activity while Lakin watched and masturbated.

Clark has submitted transcripts of videotaped witness interviews in support of the government's position that the counts are part of a common scheme or plan.

The new indictment alleges Lakin had engaged in sex with John Doe both before and after taking him to Malibu in May 2005. It alleges that John Doe declined Lakin's requests for oral sex in California but once they returned to East Alton the relationship continued.

The indictment also states that Lakin gave several females cocaine so they would engage in sexual activity with John Doe and so Lakin could watch and masturbate after the minor declined further sexual activity with Lakin himself.

The new indictment also seeks forfeiture of Lakin's property at 31610 Broad Beach Road in Malibu.

With the new indictment, Clark had hoped to avoid having separate trials. He filed a motion shortly after the new indictment informing Gilbert the new indictment proved Lakin had a common scheme or plan which was that the travel to California was part of an overall scheme or plan by Lakin to maintain a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old boy – a sexual relationship that was ultimately aided by Lakin's distribution of cocaine.

Gilbert agreed and talked to the lawyers about keeping the trial set for the already scheduled Jan. 10, 2008 trial.

However, Lakin's attorney, Scott Rosenblum, asked Gilbert for a continuance and Gilbert ruled that a failure to grant the motion would likely result in a miscarriage of justice and found that the ends of justice outweighs the best interest of the public and Lakin's in a speedy trial and granted the motion to continue.

Rosenblum had argued the superseding indictment added an additional 10 charges which will require additional time in order to investigate and develop a defense to the charges.

Even though Rosenblum was granted a continuance, he asked Gilbert to hold the trial in May because he had other trials from February 2008 until the middle of May. The government asked for the March trial date.

In his motion Rosenblum wrote, "Given that some of these dates were scheduled with the Lakin trial in mind, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to move such dates if a trial in this matter is scheduled prior to May 19, 2008.

He added, "The May 19, 2008 is the earliest open date on the undersigned counsel's calendar for which he can schedule a multi-week trial."

In addition to setting the trial for March 17, 2008, in Benton, Gilbert ordered both sides to come in to go over jury instructions on March 14.

He also ruled that the government could take depositions of witnesses who would be out of the country during the trial.

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