The judge will hear arguments on whether to dismiss six income tax-related felony charges pending against State Auditor Troy Kelley
A federal judge in Tacoma has ordered a hearing to give attorneys for embattled State Auditor Troy Kelley a chance to argue that he should dismiss six tax-related felonies because a jury already acquitted him of a similar charge.
However, U.S. District Judge Ronald B. Leighton in an order Monday denied a defense motion to dismiss or acquit Kelley of eight core charges alleging theft and money laundering stemming from the operation of his real-estate reconveyance firm between 2002 and 2008, before he was elected auditor nearly four years ago.
A federal grand jury indicted Kelley last year, and his first trial ended in April in an acquittal by a 12-member jury on one count alleging he lied to an Internal Revenue Service agent. Despite four days of deliberations, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on 14 others counts.
Late last month, the government announced plans to retry Kelley. Leighton set a March 2017 trial date.
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One of Kelley’s defense attorneys, Patricia Eakes, has said that if Leighton rules against their motion to dismiss the tax-related charges, they will appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which could delay any retrial by months.
Leighton did not set a date for the hearing in the four-page order issued Monday but said he would schedule arguments.
In seeking to have the money-laundering and theft charges dismissed, the defense argued that the government had not proved any of the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Leighton disagreed, pointing out that at least some of the jurors were convinced of Kelley’s guilt based on the divided deliberations that led to a hung jury.
Kelley had argued that the acquittal on the count that alleged he lied to IRS agents during the investigation necessarily means that other, similar income-tax related charges should be dismissed, because any attempt to reprosecute him would amount to double jeopardy.
Contacted Wednesday, defense attorney Angelo Calfo said he “respects the judge’s decision but disagrees with his analysis.”
Emily Langlie, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, said prosecutors would have no comment on Leighton’s order.