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Poverty Point trial rescheduled

By Johnny Gunter • jgunter@thenewsstar.com • July 9, 2009

Trial for three prominent northeastern Louisiana residents charged in U.S. District Court with conspiracy and mail fraud in a case involving land they purchased at Poverty Point Reservoir in Delhi has been reset to April 12 so the U.S. Supreme Court can hear a similar case.

It was set for Jan. 11.

Defense attorney Mike Small of Alexandria, who represents Billy Coenen, district attorney of the 5th Judicial District, said another of his clients, former state Sen. Charles Jones, will be tried Jan 11 instead.
Coenen's co-defendants are Monroe-based engineer Terry Denmon and Delhi businessman Mike Thompson,

Jones was indicted in February 2008 on two federal counts of making and subscribing a false tax return and one count of tax evasion. The indictment alleges Jones intentionally claimed much lower amounts for his gross receipts or sales in 2000 and his earned income in 1999. He is accused of tax evasion for converting payments for his services as a lawyer into cashier's checks and cash, then purchasing property and a certificate of deposit to avoid paying income tax.

Small said Wednesday the trial dates were flipped because the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a similar case involving a legal issue that he and other attorneys have filed in the Coenen, Denmon and Thompson case. He said motions have been filed stating the indictments should be dismissed because the charges are alleged state ethics violations, which shouldn't be used as a basis for a federal mail fraud indictment.

He said all parties, including the U.S. Attorney's Office, agreed to put off the trial until the Supreme Court rules in the case from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. He said that could possibly be a year away.

"If the Supreme Court rules as we hope, it would result in the dismissal of the Coenen case and those of the co-defendants," Small said.

No one with the U.S. Attorney's Office responded to an inquiry for comment.

Coenen, Denmon and Thompson pleaded innocent Aug. 8 to charges of conspiracy and mail fraud.

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