A federal judge has granted the former director of the Casino Control Commission and a contractor working with her agency more time to put up a defense against charges of corruption.
District Court Judge Curtis Gomez issued the order Friday, one day after defendants Violet Anne Golden and Stephanie Barnes pleaded not guilty to charges contained in a grand jury indictment.
Golden, a former lawmaker who’s 10-year-term as casino commissioner recently expired, is accused of theft of programs receiving federal government funds, conspiracy to commit theft from programs receiving government funds, wire fraud, money laundering, forgery, conversion of government property, making fraudulent claims against the government and failure to file tax returns.
Barnes, a personal associate of Golden’s who was awarded a contract to conduct education programs about responsible gaming, is charged with money laundering, conversion of government property, and making fraudulent claims upon the government.
The two women – represented by attorneys David Cattie and Namosha Boykin, respectively – entered their pleas at an arraignment hearing held Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Ruth Miller. At that hearing Miller acknowledged there may be a delay in getting the trial started.
At that time U.S. Attorney Nathan Brooks, prosecutor in the case, also acknowledged the ponderous amount of discovery material legal teams would have to plow through on its way to the start of trial.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to think they can adequately prepare,” Brooks said.
Cattie told the magistrate he consulted with a financial expert who would help prepare related documents. That expert said it would take at least 60 days to get the financials in order, Cattie said.
In his Friday order Gomez cited the Speedy Trial Act and its call to get a trial started 70 days after arraignment. But the judge also noted the advantages of granting more time. By doing so, he said, defendant Golden and her lawyer can thoroughly explore the charges filed against her. And, he said, they have more time to consider the merits of a making plea deal and avoiding a trial altogether.
Under the Friday order, the 70-day timetable leading to Golden’s trial starts running as of Jan. 15, 2020. Barnes’ lawyer is expected to file a similar request to waive a speedy trial for her client.
Golden and Barnes are accused of converting funds that were supposed to be used for education outreach and other purposes to their personal use over a period of several years. Investigators said misappropriation of funds included purchases of theater tickets, vacations, cash payments to Golden’s credit card account and a downpayment for a personal vehicle.