Thursday, September 27, 2007

DA Ronnie Earle says he'll try DeLay on other charges

By Janet Elliott - San Antonio Express News Austin Bureau - Sept. 26, 2007
AUSTIN — Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle said Wednesday that his office is ready to go to trial on remaining charges against former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay after the state's highest criminal court upheld its earlier dismissal of a separate charge.

"We're preparing for trial," said Earle.

But Houston attorney Dick DeGuerin, who represents DeLay, said he doesn't expect any trial until another Texas appeals court rules on a case involving accused co-conspirators John Colyandro and Jim Ellis.

DeGuerin said Colyandro and Ellis' case, which was argued to a panel of Austin's Third Court of Appeals more than a year ago, "has to do with the balance of the case" against DeLay.

DeLay is not directly involved in the case pending at the Austin appeals court.

The Court of Criminal Appeals Wednesday rejected Earle's motion for a rehearing on its June dismissal of a charge that DeLay conspired to violate state election laws in 2002. The court held that such a charge wasn't made a crime until 2003.

"District Attorney Earle's decision to pursue lengthy, frivolous appeals in this matter purposefully denied Tom DeLay his day in court in a timely fashion," said DeGuerin.

DeLay, Ellis and Colyandro are accused of conspiring to funnel illegal corporate campaign contributions to Republican legislative candidates the year the GOP captured its first majority of the House in modern times. A Republican majority pushed through a controversial congressional redistricting plan sought by DeLay.

DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land, resigned from Congress last year and is working as a consultant in Washington, D.C.

Colyandro and Ellis, former political associates of DeLay, are fighting the money laundering and conspiracy to launder money indictments.

Lawyers for the two argued that the state's money-laundering statute in 2002 did not include transactions involving a personal or business check. The Legislature in 2005 expanded the definition of "funds" to include checks and money orders.

Read more in the San Antonio Express News

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