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Government given extension in Rhonda Liddle case
- Click to read court documents in this motion
The U.S. government has been given until March 21 to respond to a motion seeking a new trial for Rhonda Liddle, who recently was found guilty with her husband of misuse of AEA Federal Credit Union funds.
The extension is needed to complete a review of trial testimony, according to the government's motion filed this week. It had originally been given until this Tuesday to respond.
On Feb. 24, Rhonda Liddle's attorney, Mark Paige, filed a motion for mistrial, vacating his client's conviction, and determining whether a new trial is warranted or would be double jeopardy for her.
Rhonda Liddle and her husband, William, recently were tried in U.S. District Court in Phoenix on 54 counts of conspiracy, fraud and money laundering in a case that cost AEA millions of dollars and contributed to its insolvency. AEA has been under conservatorship of the National Credit Union Administration since December 2010.
On Feb. 10, the jury found Rhonda Liddle guilty on 36 counts. William Liddle, the former vice president of business lending for AEA, was found guilty on all 54 counts. They are scheduled for sentencing on May 21.
Paige's motion seeking a mistrial states that remarks by a federal prosecutor during the government's closing argument were misleading. The remarks related to a conversation Rhonda Liddle had with Joseph Montoya, an FBI agent, during his investigation into the fraud case.
The prosecutor argued that Rhonda Liddle did not challenge the truth of the accusation.
“In this case, the government's remarks at the very close of its rebuttal argument were misleading at best,” the motion states. “Government counsel, while knowing that Rhonda did in fact challenge the accusation made by agent Montoya to her conduct, argued to the jury that Rhonda never made such a challenge. ... The inference to the jury was that, in failing to dispute the allegations, Rhonda demonstrated a consciousness of guilt.”
This “implicated her right to remain silent and shifted the burden of proof to the defendant,” the motion states.
Joyce Lobeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6853. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YSJoyceLobeck or on Twitter at @YSJoyceLobeck.