Prosecutors will re-indict Lakin; trial continued

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 3, 2008, 5:26am

BENTON, Ill. -- Federal prosecutors said they would re-indict Tom Lakin in order to satisfy a judge's objections to a pre-arranged plea deal.

The embattled attorney, whose trial on charges of cocaine possession and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes was set to begin March 17, also must undergo a sexual offender evaulation.

At a hearing Monday morning, U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert modified Lakin's bond by ordering the evaulation.

Last Thursday Gilbert rejected a proposal that would have required Lakin to serve six years in federal prison, forfeit a $325,000 cash bond instead of losing a home, pay a $20,000 fine and pay $180,000 in restitution to a Missouri-based advocacy group.

Gilbert expressed concern that the deal called for Lakin to make restitution to a St. Louis-based organization, rather than being directed toward the alleged victims or the state of Illinois.

East Alton attorney Ed Unsell, who represents alleged victims of sexual assault in a civil suit against Lakin, was present for the hearing in Benton Monday morning.

Lakin's attorney, Scott Rosenblum of St. Louis, told Gilbert last week that he and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Clark have become accustomed to working over the weekend and assured the judge they would be ready for the hearing scheduled today.

The two sides apparently did not work strenuously enough since last week's hearing to resolve concerns raised by Gilbert.

Gilbert said last week that a six-year prison sentence is a "departure" from a normal government recommendation in similar circumstances, speculating that Lakin could be helping the government in other cases or because the evidence in the case is mostly circumstantial.

He also said there were typographical errors in the plea agreement that would need to be fixed. He also questioned the validity of the second superseding indictment because it was signed by Randy Massey, whose appointment as interim U.S. Attorney had expired at the time the indictment was signed.

Gilbert said it should have been signed by A. Courtney Cox, who was asked by the Justice Department to recuse himself from all criminal matters until the FBI conducted a criminal background check first.

Cox, Massey and Clark were present at the hearing on Monday. Cox passed his background check last month.

In other developments Gilbert also ordered an expedited Presentence Investigative Report, a report which profiles a defendant's financial situation and other personal matters.

"This case isn't like wine," Gilbert said. "It's not going to get better with age."

Gilbert granted a joint motion to continue the trial. He said that the "ends of justice outweigh the defendant's right to a speedy trial."

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