LOCK HAVEN - The last pre-trial matters were laid to rest Monday afternoon in the case of the Commonwealth vs. former Clinton County Commissioner Adam Coleman.
In a series of rulings, Clinton County President Judge J. Michael Williamson said he will allow defense attorney Robert Englert Jr. to pursue questioning based on a theory that Coleman's signature was forged on checks by a YMCA employee who hasn't been charged with any crime.
Deputy state Attorney General Clarke H. Madden argued strongly against allowing those allegations to move forward in connection with an "uncharged" witness.
"I'm not going to limit questioning on that matter," Williamson said. "Mr. Englert can raise issues with why prospective witnesses aren't being charged. His star witness himself alleges that involvement ... And says she shared money and was a participant. If you think I'm going to protect her from being examined, you are wrong ... We could make new law in the county."
Williamson also ruled that the two sets of crimes for which Coleman is charged could not be severed from one another and will be the subject of one trial, with jury selection to begin July 13 and trial to follow on Monday.
Williamson also turned away an effort to have the charges dismissed as "lacking criminal intent." One of the defense theories circles around claims that Coleman accepted YMCA money from Clark in the belief that it was an authorized personal loan.
Also turned away, was an argument that statements by Coleman to a representative of the Attorney General's office should be suppressed because he was "in custody" at the time. Englert argued that an interview by the AG agent behind closed doors in Coleman's office rose to the level of "custody," and Coleman should have been advised of his rights at that time.
And finally, Williamson declined to suppress evidence collected from the various bank accounts, based on the Right to Financial Privacy Act.
The RFPA protects the personal financial privacy of federal credit union members by restricting access to the member's financial records.
The RFPA requires that the credit union obtain written authorization from the member, or secure from the government authority a subpoena or summons, a search warrant, a judicial subpoena, or a formal written request to release information about a member. Madden had argued that the RFPA is a federal law and can't be applied to a state criminal proceeding.
Coleman's mother, Kim Coleman, also appeared in Clinton County Court Monday. Kim Coleman who already has been sentenced, has a pending release from the Clinton County Correctional Facility after being sentenced to 20 days to 23 months in prison.
Williamson had granted compassionate release for Kim Coleman last Wednesday to attend her mother's funeral. The judge said his order remanding her to the custody of the prison as of 5 p.m. Monday stands. Coleman's attorney, Jacob Gurwitz, was not present in the courtroom.