MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A federal judge says he's considering sanctions against federal prosecutors for repeated delays in turning over FBI documents to defense attorney in Alabama gambling corruption cases.
Defense attorneys told U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. that the sanctions should include throwing out the charges against their clients.
During a hearing Friday, the judge said the Justice Department sent in an "an elite group from D.C." to prosecute the case but its conduct has been ridiculous. The judge did not indicate how soon he would rule on whether to impose sanctions or how far they might go.
Before the hearing, the Justice Department changed lead prosecutors in the case, with Justin Shur replacing Peter Ainsworth, who is the senior deputy chief in the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section.
Defense attorneys had asked for today's hearing earlier in the week after federal prosecutors gave them additional emails relating to wiretaps.
Joe Espy, lead attorney for Victoryland owner Milton McGregor filed a motion to dismiss the case on behalf of all of the 10 defendants.
"Mr. McGregor is innocent" Espy said. "He's innocent and the only thing he asked for is a speedy and fair trial. Now how is he going to get a fair trial if the other side don't follow the law."
Judge Capel who presided over the case said it was "ridiculous" how US prosecutors have handled delivering information to the defense.
He described their behavior as a combination of "arrogance" and "ignorance."
Espy said this is the kind of behavior that people have come to expect from the Federal Government.
"They're bullies! They're bullies! And that's what they've tried to do in this case. They've tried to bully us and I think they've found out that some just pure old simple country type lawyers from Alabama are not going to be bullied."
Prosecutors have until Monday to certify to Judge Capel that they have obeyed his order to hand over all necessary information to the defense.
The trial in the case has already been pushed back once and is now scheduled for June 6 however attorneys for several of the defendants indicated that it will be difficult to meet several of May's deadlines.