WARNER ROBINS -- The federal trial of former Warner Robins City Councilman John Williams is now scheduled to be heard during the April trial term.
Williams, 73, was arrested Oct. 18 on a federal indictment on charges of extortion, false statements to a federal agency and tampering with a witness in relation to the sale of a vehicle to Warner Robins police. The vehicle was never purchased.
Williams, who lost his Post 6 City Council seat in the Nov. 8 election, is free on a $10,000 bond after pleading not guilty.
U.S. District Judge Marc Treadwell has granted a defense continuance, pushing the case into the April 23 trial term. A pretrial conference had been scheduled for Monday, and the trial had been slated for the Jan. 23 court term.
“The court finds it in the interest of justice to allow a continuance so that the parties have adequate time to assess, develop and implement an effective legal strategy through discovery,” the judge’s order states. “In addition, a continuance will allow both parties to have adequate time to pursue a potential plea agreement.”
Tina Hunt, a federal defender representing Williams, sought the continuance citing a need for more time to interview witnesses and investigate the defense. Hunt also cited Williams’ health issues in her motion for a continuance. Hunt declined comment on the defense case.
Williams is accused of receiving a $1,720 commission in relation to the sale of a vehicle to Warner Robins police. He also is accused of making false statements to the FBI. Williams has maintained his innocence and claimed the charges against him were politically motivated.
Sue McKinney, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said no comment could be given on the facts of the case or whether there was a plea agreement in the works. She said she expects the case will be ready for trial by the April term.
Also, Williams has a case pending against him in Houston County Superior Court. He is accused of making false statements and writings to Warner Robins police in connection with reporting his city-issued cell phone stolen. Williams entered a plea of not guilty at his arraignment.
The case had been on the Nov. 7, 2011, court calendar but was continued. Charles E. Cox Jr., a Macon attorney representing Williams in the Houston County case, said no new trial date has been set. But Cox said the case could come up in early spring.
Brandon Faircloth, deputy chief assistant district attorney for the Dublin Judicial District, is expected to prosecute that case. The Dublin Judicial Circuit was assigned the case after the Houston County District Attorney’s Office requested a special prosecutor. Faircloth could not be reached for comment Thursday.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.