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Thomson hearing gets rescheduled

Paul Thomson walks into federal court
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Paul Thomson walks into federal court in Harrisonburg on Wednesday. Sally Voth/Daily

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By Sally Voth - svoth@nvdaily.com

HARRISONBURG -- Former Winchester Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Hampton Thomson will spend at least one more weekend out of jail.

A bond revocation hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning in U.S. District Court was continued until Monday after Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh found Thomson's attorney wasn't provided enough time to review evidence.

Thomson, 56, now a criminal defense lawyer, faces charges of conspiracy to alter a record in an official proceeding, conspiracy to tamper with a witness, possession of cocaine, three counts of tampering with evidence and two counts of witness tampering.

The prosecution alleges he bought cocaine from some of his legal clients and then tried to get them to cover his tracks.

Last week, the government moved to revoke Thomson's bond. When he was released on bond in January, one of the conditions was that he not contact any witnesses or potential witnesses in the case.

Since then, Thomson has violated that rule several times, according to the prosecution.
He continued to represent Lemuel Lee Roberts, 23, one of his alleged suppliers of cocaine, in Frederick County Circuit Court. Thomson's defense team was provided with information that Roberts was a potential witness against him in federal court, the revocation motion says.

On March 8, Thomson met with his client for more than an hour, much of that time in private, it says. Additionally, he pressured Roberts' mother and sister not to cooperate with investigators, the motion says.

According to the motion, Thomson told Roberts' sister she'd be indicted if she cooperated with the government, and he wouldn't provide her legal aid unless she found out what Roberts told investigators and the grand jury. This led her to not keep an appointment with federal investigators, it says.

Thomson is accused of deleting numerous text messages from Roberts' phone and discouraging his mother from providing the phone to authorities.

Thomson's attorney, John P. Flannery II, filed a motion Tuesday opposing "the government's uncorroborated slanders by a jail house snitch, supported only by his mother and sister, [and] seeking to revoke Thomson's bail."

It repeatedly refers to Roberts as a "snitch." Frederick County Circuit Court Judge John E. Wetsel Jr. "recognized Mr. Thomson as the snitch's counsel for the snitch's state proceedings," the motion says.

"The probation office did not find sufficient cause to file a probation violation, and none of this alleged misconduct was worth a count in the grand jury superseding indictment filed on March 17, 2011 even though the snitch and his mother appeared before the grand jury," it says.

Flannery's motion says Roberts "purposely misled" Wetsel when questioned about whether there was a conflict in his being represented by Thomson.

"Apparently the US government hasn't felt it necessary to apologize to Judge Wetsel for their snitch's misconduct; we can't expect much more tomorrow," it says.

In court on Wednesday, Flannery said an e-mail was sent to him at 9:15 p.m. Tuesday with an electrical recording that was about a half-hour long and didn't include a transcript.

"That's just not fair notice," he said.

Flannery said he hadn't been given a copy of Roberts' grand jury testimony, but had received that of his mother, a less-critical witness.

He said when he asked the prosecution for Roberts' testimony, he was told they didn't have it yet.

Saying he needed more time, Flannery asked for a continuance, which was granted by Welsh. Welsh said having material overnight wasn't enough time to respond to the evidence.

"[I want to] give him enough time to review and respond professionally," Welsh said. "I've been behind both those tables in this courthouse. I know very well what both of you feel."
Thomson is also scheduled to be arraigned on Monday.

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