Attorneys for a developer accused of bribing the former mayor of Palm Springs for favorable land deals in that city have filed court papers requesting that the trial be moved from Riverside to the Coachella Valley, where the alleged crimes took place.
Attorneys for John Wessman argue in court papers filed Wednesday that criminal proceedings for Wessman, developer Richard Meaney and former Mayor Steve Pougnet should be held at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Wessman and Meaney are accused of paying Pougnet around $375,000 over several years to help push through various downtown development projects that required city council approval.
Pougnet would face a potential 19-year prison sentence, while the developers would face 12 years each, if convicted of all charges.
Wessman’s attorneys argue that the case “has no factual connection to the western portion of the county or the city of Riverside,” and if tried there, would be detrimental to nearly all involved, including the defendants, attorneys and witnesses who reside in the Coachella Valley.”
“The wasted time and expense, as well as the sheer inconvenience, of holding a lengthy trial that involves dozens of witnesses from Palm Springs, will be substantial,” their court papers state.
The attorneys also argue that Superior Court regulations require that “documents are to be filed according to the zip code in which the alleged crime occurred.”
The men are due back in court May 19 for arraignment in Riverside, where the venue change motion will be heard.
— City News Service
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