LaRoque's retrial hearing postponed until Feb. - WNCN: News, Weather

LaRoque's retrial hearing postponed until Feb.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. - After months of delays, former state lawmaker Stephen LaRoque will have to wait another two months to find out if he'll spend the rest of his life in prison.

On Monday, a federal judge postponed his retrial hearing for a third time.

A jury convicted him this summer of a dozen felony charges for stealing federal money, buying lavish gifts, then trying to cover it up. But juror misconduct threw out two of his convictions, and now LaRoque hopes to get a retrial on the remaining 10 convictions.

He was supposed to be in court this Thursday for a retrial hearing; but U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard postponed it for a third time until February 13, 2014.   

"At this point, we are just trying to work through all the various issues involved,” Elliot Abrams, one of LaRoque’s defense attorneys, told 9 On Your Side on Tuesday. “We are working to see if there isn't a way that we can resolve it at this stage."

Court documents show both sides want more time to see if they can reach a settlement and avoid going back to court.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office did not return calls or emails on Tuesday seeking comment and LaRoque's lawyers wouldn't give us specific details on their meetings. So 9 On Your Side talked with Greenville defense attorney Jeff Foster, who has no connection to the case, to find out what could be happening behind closed doors.

"It’s all on the table now,” Foster says. “That also gives both sides the opportunity to go out and try to find additional witnesses and additional evidence that would make the weak parts of their cases better."

Foster says a favorable plea deal could result in reduced prison time or fines for LaRoque. So why would federal prosecutors ever agree to that?

"No two trials are ever the same,” Foster says. “So the fact that you won it one time doesn't automatically mean you're going to win it the second time."

He says a deal would also save everyone involved time and money.

--- Previous Story ---

Former North Carolina lawmaker Stephen LaRoque will have to wait yet another month to find out whether he'll get a retrial.  
   
This is the second time Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard has postponed LaRoque's retrial hearing. Wednesday morning, Judge Howard granted a request by both the defense counsel and federal prosecutors to push the hearing date back from Nov.14 to mid-December.

The new date is set for Dec. 12 at 10 a.m. to give the lawyers and the court more time to research the issue. At an initial hearing in early October, Judge Howard said the issue is more complicated than they thought.
9 On Your Side's Katie Banks followed LaRoque's trial extensively this summer and will have more details as they become available.

--- Previous Story ---

A federal judge once again delayed a hearing for a possible retrial for former state representative Stephen LaRoque.

The hearing was already postponed to this week, now it won't happen until October 10.
    
Laroque's lawyers asked for a new trial on 10 convictions after a juror admitted to doing online research during deliberations, which is a violation of court rules.


--- Previous Story ---


A federal judge has agreed to postpone a hearing for a possible retrial for former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque.

Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard filed a court order Monday granting a request from the U.S. Attorneys' Office for Eastern North Carolina for a two-week extension to respond the defense's motion for a new trial.

Federal prosecutors now have until Sept. 20, 2013, to file a response. The hearing that was supposed to be Thursday morning is now scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2013, at 10 a.m.

LaRoque's lawyers asked for that new trial on his remaining 10 convictions after Juror No. 3, Jerry Miller, admitted to doing online research during deliberations, which violates court rules.

--- Previous Story ---

A hearing scheduled for next week to reexamine the 10 remaining convictions against former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque could be delayed.


On Thursday the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina requested a two-week deadline extension to respond to LaRoque's defense team's motion for a retrial and the resulting hearing set for Thursday, Sept. 12.

Federal prosecutors requested the deadline be extended to Sept. 23, 2013, and that the hearing be continued to a date on or following Sept. 26, 2013.

Court documents give this explanation for a deadline extension request:

"The undersigned attorney has had numerous work-related scheduling conflicts during the past week which have prevented the Government from finalizing its response. The additional time would also allow the parties to meet in order to discuss certain factual issues pertaining to the motion."

Stay with 9 On Your Side for updates.


--- Previous Story ---


A federal court judge will hold another hearing for former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque.

A jury found LaRoque guilty in June of a dozen federal charges, including fraud and filing false tax returns.

But he's since been given a second chance after a juror admitted he researched information related to the case during deliberations, which violated court rules.

LaRoque's defense team filed a renewed motion for a retrial last week after the juror accused of misconduct said his research influenced his votes on all counts.

9 On Your Side obtained a court order that shows there will be a hearing on Thursday, Sept. 12 to talk about the next steps in this process. Stay with us for updates.

--Previous Story--

If a judge agrees, a renewed motion could jeopardize former state Rep. Stephen LaRoque's remaining criminal convictions.

On Friday LaRoque's defense team filed a renewed motion for a retrial based on new sworn statements from Juror No. 3, who is accused of misconduct.

Earlier this month, 9 On Your Side reported LaRoque is already getting a new trial on two of the dozen federal criminal counts on which he was convicted in June.

Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard granted that retrial on counts 11 and 12 after it was learned Juror No. 3, Jerry Miller, had visited an Internal Revenue Service website during the trial to research tax laws at issue in the case. Jurors aren't allowed to perform independent research outside the courtroom.

Now, the renewed motion asks Judge Howard to also consider a retrial for counts 1-10. It includes new sworn statements in which Miller admits his outside research during deliberations influenced his votes on all counts, not just No. 11 and No. 12.

Miller says, "Based on my research, I changed my vote from not guilty on all counts to guilty on all counts. If I had not conducted the home Internet research, I would not have changed my verdict on any of the counts."

He continues, "If it were not for me conducting this home Internet research, the jury would have remained hung on all counts indefinitely."

An accompanying affidavit that includes sworn statements from Juror No. 11, Dara Bass, confirms Miller's statements.

Bass says before Miller's research, he always voted "not guilty" on each of the 12 counts. But after he conducted outside research, he "consistently voted for guilty on all counts."

A jury convicted the LaRoque on a dozen criminal counts back in June for stealing federal money through a rural development program he founded, then trying to cover it up by filing false tax returns.

Stay with 9 On Your Side for updates.

--- Previous Story ----

Former North Carolina Rep. Stephen LaRoque is getting a new trial on two of the dozen federal criminal counts on which he was convicted in June.

Senior U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard signed an order Thursday partially granting a defense motion for a new trial after it was learned one juror had visited an Internal Revenue Service web site during the trial to research tax laws at issue in the case.

LaRoque was accused of filing false tax returns on income and loans from a federally funded rural development program he founded. Jurors aren't allowed to perform independent research outside the courtroom.

The remaining 10 convictions will stand. LaRoque faces years in prison for convictions involving theft from a non-profit receiving federal funds, money laundering and making false statements.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

--- Original Story ---

9 On Your Side has learned former N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque will head back to court.

He previously stood trial for fraud charges.

The U.S. Attorney's office said laRoque will be sentenced for 10 of the 12 counts.

However, he will get a retrial on counts 11 and 12, which are for making and subscribing false tax returns in 2009 and 2010.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office said the juror misconduct is to blame.

We'll have more details as they become available.

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