Despite rumors the federal government might abandon the case, the retrial of a conspiracy charge against Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie and her husband seems to be moving right along.
On Tuesday, a brief pretrial hearing was held before Magistrate Judge Katherine Nelson, where attorneys were able to set a tentative date to select a new jury. As of now, jury selection is scheduled for 8:45 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 3.The indictment claimed Hastie and her husband, John Melvin Hastie Jr., attempted to hide approximately $58,000 from the Internal Revenue Service through fraudulent tax returns and two false Statements of Economic Interest to the Alabama Ethics Commission, which political office holders are required to submit.
Those allegations were related to income Hastie Jr. garnered from brokering timber sales, which wasn’t reported on the Hasties 2009 or 2010 joint income tax returns. Hastie’s attorneys said she didn’t know about the income or prepare the tax returns, while Hastie Jr.’s attorneys called in an honest mistake.
The case was tried in May, but ended with a mistrial after a hung jury failed to reach a decision. However, allegations of jury tampering were made on the first day of that trial, which led to a separate criminal case against Hastie Jr.’s coworker, Jonathan Lawrence Oneal.
Oneal’s case is also continuing to move forward, and a pretrial conference has been scheduled for Friday, July 24, at 10 a.m. Dates for jury selection and an upcoming trial have not yet been discussed in Oneal’s case.
After the allegations of jury tampering first surfaced during the Hasties case in late May, federal prosecutors requested a completely new jury for the tax evasion trial and for the public corruption case against Hastie bested in June.
In that case, Hastie was acquitted of 16 of 17 charges and was only convicted of a minor violation related to her efforts to distribute more than 30,000 email address from a state motor vehicle database to the campaign of Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson in August of 2013.
However, despite the prosecution’s concerns, U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose ruled that no evidence suggested any jurors had been compromised other than a single juror who told the court he’d been contacted by Oneal prior to the trial.
Though the tentative date for a new jury selection has been set, it is subject to change.
The final jury selection and trial schedule will be published by the presiding district judge no later than the Wednesday prior to jury selection.
At the hearing this morning, both sides predicting a two and half day trial which should be taking place sometime in August.