Attorneys for former Freedom Industries president want to delay 6 months

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The motion also mentioned huge files in the case and outstanding issues … scheming to defraud in a bankruptcy case, scheming to defraud by wire, …

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Attorneys representing former Freedom Industries President Gary Southern are seeking to postpone trial deadlines and say they intend to file a motion to change the trial’s location.

Southern’s attorney Robert Allen filed a motion Thursday asking to postpone the March 10 trial for at least six months. The motion also mentioned attorneys’ intention to file a motion to change the trial’s venue.

Before filing such a request, attorneys said they have to conduct polling and gather an “enormous amount” of information. They said this isn’t possible before the Feb. 9 motions deadline.

The motion also mentioned huge files in the case and outstanding issues such as a pending request to take U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin’s office off the case.

Allen said in the motion that the government gave defense attorneys three flash drives worth of information including expert reports and 26 grand jury transcripts of testimony gathered in the yearlong investigation. Defense attorneys’ conservative estimate is that the flash drives contain more than 1 million pages of documents.

“It is incumbent upon counsel to read and assess the voluminous discovery produced in this complex case in order to prepare an effective defense,” the motion stated. “Counsel respectfully submits that it cannot engage in a thorough evaluation of the Government’s evidence as contained in its discovery, engage experts, conduct its own independent investigation where needed and prepare for a trial by the scheduled trial date.”

Attorneys also said Southern’s and former Freedom owner Dennis Farrell’s motions to take the U.S. Attorneys’ office off the case should be resolved.

Attorneys for Southern and Farrell said the office should be disqualified because there is a conflict of interest because the office’s employees were affected by last January’s chemical leak, which affected 300,000 people in nine counties.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston heard arguments on this issue in a hearing last month but has not yet issued a ruling. At that hearing, attorneys said they wished to waive disqualification for the judge.

Stephen Jory, who represents former Freedom owner Charles Herzing, also filed a request earlier this week asking a federal judge to continue his client’s March trial. Jory’s motion also mentioned the sizable documents and said counsel has already scheduled a month-long vacation to New Zealand.

Jory asked to continue the trial until at least June.

Southern, Herzing, Farrell and William Tis pleaded not guilty in January to charges in a superseding indictment. Southern, 53, of Marco Island, is charged with Clean Water Act violations, scheming to defraud in a bankruptcy case, scheming to defraud by wire, fraud by interstate commercial carrier and making a false oath in a bankruptcy case.

Farrell, 58, of Charleston, Tis, 60, of Verona, Pa., and Herzing, 63, of McMurray, Pa., face charges including negligent discharge of a pollutant, unlawful discharge of refuse and negligent violation of permit condition.

Contact writer Andrea Lannom at [email protected] or 304-348-5148. Follow her at www.twitter.com/AndreaLannom.

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first published: 2015-02-04 20:26:15