Lakin scheduled to appear in court July 31

Steve Gonzalez Jul. 3, 2008, 2:15am

Tom Lakin (left) and his attorney Scott Rosenblum

BENTON-U.S. District Judge J. Phil Gilbert wants Tom Lakin to appear in his courtroom at 10 a.m. on July 31.

Gilbert set the status conference in Lakin's case June 30, three months after Lakin's defense team and prosecutors told Gilbert they only needed a few days to iron out a change of plea deal.

Lakin, who faces 18 sex and drug charges related to cocaine possession and transporting a minor across state lines for sexual purposes, has not been in Gilbert's courtroom since March 3.

On May 1 lawyers in the case held a phone conference, but Lakin did not take part.

During that 15-minute call, Lakin's attorney Scott Rosenblum of St. Louis informed the judge he advised Lakin not to take the polygraph probation requested as part of his PSR.

The government did not take a stance on the issue and Gilbert said he would not require Lakin to submit to the polygraph.

Also, on June 26, Gilbert granted a joint motion to extend the filing date of objections to Lakin's Pre-Sentence Investigative Report (PSR).

The PSR was completed June 9, but both Lakin's defense team and federal prosecutors asked Gilbert to give them more time to file any objections.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Clark and Lakin's lawyer argued that since the issues in the case are complex, they will need more than 14 days to file objections.

Clark and Rosenblum also argued that it would be appropriate to delay their objections to the PSR until Lakin pleads guilty or after a trial takes place.

Gilbert agreed and entered an order that stated, "Objections to the Pre-Sentence Report are due 14 days after entry of a plea of guilty to the Third Superseding Indictment or 14 days after trial, whichever is earlier."

On Feb. 28 prosecutors and Lakin's lawyers proposed a binding plea agreement that would have removed all the sex charges against Lakin in return for guilty pleas on various drugs charges.

The deal also would have required Lakin to pay $180,000 in restitution to a Missouri-based advocacy group despite the fact that all crimes he is accused of occurred in Illinois.

In addition, the agreement called for Lakin to forfeit a $325,000 cash bond he put up rather than losing a home, pay a $20,000 fine and serve six years in federal prison.

Lakin earlier had pleaded not guilty to charges. A plea deal wiping out the sex charges could have offered Lakin, who would face a possible life sentence, the possibility of a better prison placement.

Gilbert rejected Lakin's plea proposal expressing concerns that the recipient of Lakin's $180,000 restitution fine would be a St. Louis victim's advocacy center rather than anything connected to his victims or the state of Illinois. He also questioned why victims in the case were not receiving any of the restitution.

"There's something wrong with that picture and I'm not buying into that provision," Gilbert said of the offer. He also expressed concern whether Lakin would be able to afford to pay such an amount because he had not seen Lakin's PSR which would disclose Lakin's financial situation.

Gilbert gave the sides until March 3 to iron out flaws in the plea agreement, but at a hearing scheduled the same day, Clark and Rosenblum told Gilbert they were unable to reach a deal.

Gilbert ordered a PSR for Lakin and then ordered the report be expedited because normal processing would take around three months.

As it turns out, the report took three months to complete after all.

Gilbert also granted a joint motion to continue the March 17 trial. He said that the "ends of justice outweigh the defendant's right to a speedy trial."

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