Former Halfmoon supervisor's trial pushed back to June

Tuesday, March 25, 2014
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— Former Halfmoon Supervisor Melinda Wormuth’s trial on influence-peddling charges was pushed back to June so her lawyer can focus on another high-profile case.

Defense Attorney E. Stewart Jones requested additional time to prepare Wormuth’s defense, since he’s now preparing for the trial of former state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno. Wormuth’s trial on the felony charges of extortion and making a false statement was slated to begin in mid-April, just weeks before Bruno’s trial is scheduled to start May 5.

Jones also cited Wormuth’s “health issues” as another reason to push back the start of the trial. Earlier this month, Wormuth agreed to submit to a mental-health evaluation and substance-abuse counseling as part of a modification to her conditions of release.

At her arraignment in October, federal prosecutors initially asked that Wormuth be required to seek substance-abuse therapy and counseling. But a U.S. District Court judge ultimately decided to release her on her own recognizance.

Jones said Wormuth, who took a prolonged medical leave from her job as supervisor last fall, continues to struggle with depression. And while he didn’t characterize her as having a substance-abuse problem, he said Monday she continues to suffer medical issues.

“She’s having a difficult time for any number of reasons . . . and I don’t think this case is central to that,” he said.

A June 9 trial is now set before Chief Judge Gary Sharpe. Final motions in the case are due by late May and Wormuth will have until June 5 to decide whether she’ll change her plea.

Wormuth was also granted an adjournment in the state complaint against her last week. She stands charged with two felony counts of grand larceny and one count of filing a false instrument for allegedly misusing $6,250 in campaign contributions last year.

The Republican resigned from office in November.

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