ST. LOUIS – Former St. Louis County planning commission chairman Douglas Morgan switched lawyers and postponed his criminal fraud trial to Dec. 5.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry reset his trial after a private hearing on Oct. 20.
A week earlier, she had vacated an Oct. 17 trial date.
Minutes of the hearing show William Goldstein of Clayton replaced Joseph Hogan of Clayton as defense counsel.
Perry had set the hearing for 2 p.m., but minutes show it started at 12:15 p.m. and ended at 12:39 p.m.
Chief deputy clerk Lori Miller-Taylor said several judges changed schedules for the day because the building services department planned a fire drill.
Perry entered an order after the hearing, writing that the case has seen many delays.
"It has been set for trial in August, September, and October, but still has not gone to trial," she wrote.
"These delays have been caused by defendant's indecision about how to proceed and, more importantly, by his health issues, although whether those issues should have been serious enough to disrupt the process of this case remains undetermined," she wrote.
"In any event, defendant has now indicated that he wishes to change counsel, and he has retained a new attorney," she wrote.
"That attorney, of course, now needs additional time to prepare for trial," she wrote.
Grand jurors indicted Morgan in April, alleging he obtained bank loans by representing that he continued to possess an inheritance.
In June, grand jurors charged that he obtained money from investors by representing that he held secret interest in a casino proposal that would win a license.
The indictments identified him as a long time friend of Tom Lakin, founder of the former Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.
They identified him as a long time friend of Ricki Lee Jones of Wood River, former owner of Triad Industries.
Lakin currently serves time in federal prison on drug charges, and Jones recently served out a sentence for evading income taxes.
Lakin's son, Brad Lakin, and Jones's daughter, Julie McDonald, submitted the casino proposal that Morgan allegedly exploited.
Lakin and McDonald withdrew the application before officials picked a developer.
In August, Morgan checked into Cleveland Clinic.
In September, Perry ordered him to appear at a hearing.
He appeared on Sept. 22, in a wheelchair, and Perry delayed his trial for two weeks so he could undergo a nerve biopsy.
"There is not one doctor who has said you are so ill you can't come to court," Perry said.
"We can accommodate your disability during the trial."
On Sept. 30, she set a hearing on a possible change of plea for Oct. 13, at 10 a.m.
Morgan did not appear at the hearing, and Perry ordered Hogan to bring him in.
She wrote, "Defendant must appear in this court forthwith."
She wrote that his family indicated he was taken to a hospital that morning.
"No doctor ever stated that defendant cannot appear in court, but defendant continues to claim he must be hospitalized each time he has a court appearance," Perry wrote.
Morgan appeared at 3:30 p.m., and Perry vacated his Oct. 17 trial date.
She set a hearing for Oct. 20, and Morgan showed up for it.
According to minutes of the hearing, his representation and health were discussed.
According to Perry's order, Goldstein asked for a longer delay than she would grant.
"Although I am not setting the trial as far in the future as counsel has requested, I am allowing a reasonable amount of time for counsel to prepare, considering the nature of this case and the stage of the proceedings," Perry wrote.
She set a final pretrial conference on Nov. 30.
"Defendant must be present for this hearing," she wrote.