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Judge rules statements made by Roberts are off-limits to federal prosecutors
By Sally Voth - email@example.com
HARRISONBURG -- Federal prosecutors won't be able to use statements made against former Winchester Commonwealth's Attorney Paul Hampton Thomson by one of his clients when he appears in U.S. District Court Monday for a bond hearing.
Thomson, 56, faces the possibility of losing his freedom while he awaits trial on 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 government alleges that Thomson has violated the conditions of his $50,000 bail by privately meeting with Lemuel Lee Roberts, 23, of Winchester, tampering with more evidence and intimidating witnesses.
Thomson's defense team was given discovery that showed that Roberts -- in Frederick County Circuit Court on assault and battery and abduction charges -- was a potential witness against Thomson. Roberts and Thomson met in a jury room alone March 8.
However, information provided by Roberts can't be brought up during Monday's hearing, a judge ruled Thursday.
The government has claimed that Roberts was one of several sources of cocaine for Thomson. In a motion to revoke Thomson's bond, Assistant U.S. Attorney Grayson Hoffman says that Roberts' sister, Charita Roberts, contacted investigators March 3, saying she had evidence that Thomson had broken the law.
She was to meet with them the next day, but didn't show up, later texting that Thomson -- who was also her attorney -- had threatened her, the motion says. It says Thomson wanted to know what her brother had told investigators and the grand jury.
The motion says that Thomson deleted hundreds of text messages from Roberts' phone and tried to get his mother, Melissa Roberts, to keep the phone from the feds, as well as to find out what her son told investigators.
Thomson's attorney, John P. Flannery II, filed a motion Wednesday -- following a bond hearing that was continued -- asking for transcripts of Roberts' grand jury testimony before Monday's hearing, or for the government to "forfeits its motion in whole or part." It notes that the transcript of Melissa Roberts' March 17 grand jury testimony was provided to him.
"But the principal accusation involving Mr. Lem Roberts surprisingly produced no grand jury testimony for Mr. Roberts notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Roberts is central to the government's revocation initiative," Flannery's motion says.
It says Roberts might have testified before the grand jury twice -- on March 3 and 17. The motion says the government said Roberts' grand jury testimony transcripts weren't yet available.
During Wednesday's bond hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge James G. Welsh told Hoffman and Flannery to talk to each other about those transcripts.
"I will leave it to you guys," he said. "You all are professionals, and you both know the rules of the game."
Flannery's motion says that as soon as Wednesday's hearing ended, he turned to the prosecution table to confer, "and Mr. Hoffman was already passing through the court room's rear doors, practically at a run, leaving [a Drug Enforcement Administration agent at the table] behind."
An e-mail from Hoffman says the government doesn't yet have the transcript nor know when it will be ready. Flannery's motion questions whether the government has requested a transcript or asked when it would be delivered.
During a Thursday afternoon teleconference, Welsh ruled that the prosecution needs to let him know during Monday's hearing when Roberts' transcripts are expected, and also during the hearing can't use anything Roberts said, according to online court records.