Former Texas Congressman’s Fraud Trial Pushed to 2018

HOUSTON (CN) – The attorney for a former Texas congressman facing federal corruption charges convinced a judge to push his criminal trial back to January 2018, to allow time to review the government’s 142,000 pages of discovery.

Steve Stockman, 60, and his former aide Jason Posey were charged in a 28-count indictment on March 28 with fraudulently soliciting $1.2 million in charitable donations and diverting more than $500,000 to pay their personal expenses and finance Stockman’s campaigns.

Stockman said at an April 7 pretrial hearing that he had $17 in the bank after paying attorneys to defend him against the government’s four-year investigation into his and his numerous companies’ finances. A federal magistrate judge appointed Houston attorney Richard Kuniansky to defend Stockman.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal, chief of the Southern District of Texas, set the trial for early June.

But Kuniansky asked for more time to prepare Stockman’s defense after prosecutors gave him a thumb drive on April 10 with 142,378 pages of discovery documents on it, according to Stockman’s unopposed motion for continuance.

“Although it’s not clear from the indictment or criminal complaint when the government’s investigation commenced, it appears it may have been conducted over the past 3 ½ years,” the April 20 motion states.

Kuniansky states in the motion that a paralegal will help him review the documents and he might have to hire a forensic accountant to help with the task that he estimates will take 1,186 hours, at 30 seconds per page.

In 2013, Kuniansky defended a Stanford Financial Group executive charged with helping his former boss, R. Allen Stanford, bilk investors in a $7 billion Ponzi scam.

Kuniansky says in the Stockman motion that the Stanford case also involved reams of documents and complex accounting, and more than three years passed between his client’s initial appearance and the jury trial.

“Although a period of 3 years will not be necessary in this case, it is respectfully submitted that the trial of this case should be continued until at least January 2018,” the motion states.

Rosenthal granted the motion on Wednesday, resetting the trial for Jan. 29, 2018.

Stockman, a born-again Christian and former computer salesman, represented Texas’s 9th Congressional District from 1995 to 1997 and its 36th Congressional District from 2013 to 2015.

NASA’s Johnson Space Center, 30 miles southeast of Houston, is in the 36th Congressional District, which stretches to the Louisiana border. The 9th Congressional District covers southwest Houston and suburbs beyond.

Stockman also ran in the 2014 Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, but lost to incumbent Texas Sen. John Cornyn.

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