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Former S.J. Sheriff Deputy Monte McFall denied new trial

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Posted: Thursday, July 20, 2006 10:00 pm

Former San Joaquin County Sheriff's Deputy Monte McFall is going to prison.

McFall was in U.S. District Court in Sacramento on Thursday to convince U.S. District Judge Morrison C. England to grant him a new trial.

But the 58-year-old Lathrop rancher, former deputy sheriff and ex-marshal had no such luck.

"The evidence in this case against Mr. McFall was overwhelming," said England, who denied McFall's request after a 1?-day hearing.

McFall was convicted of 17 counts of attempted extortion, witness tampering and mail fraud March 8 following a five-week jury trial in U.S. District Court of Appeals. He argued Thursday that his former lawyer, William Romaine, was so ineffective that he didn't get a fair shot at proving his case.

A jury found McFall guilty of nine counts of attempted extortion, six counts of mail fraud and two counts of witness tampering. But jurors acquitted him of three other counts of mail fraud.

"The jury's conviction of Monte McFall brings to an end a saga of greed and corruption," United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott said. "The people of San Joaquin County are the better for it."

Romaine testified Thursday as part of McFall's new attorneys' efforts to claim that McFall had not received effective counsel at the trial. Judge England, however, rejected the claim, noting that Romaine had effectively cross-examined witnesses and otherwise handled a difficult trial.

McFall's current attorneys, Victor Haltom and John R. Duree, are the fourth set of defense attorneys representing McFall in the case.

The case also led to the guilty pleas of former San Joaquin County Sheriff Baxter Dunn, 58; former San Joaquin County Supervisor Lynn Bedford, 68; the former interim head of Gov. Gray Davis' office of Criminal Justice Planning, N. Allen Sawyer, 37; and Bedford's former legislative assistant J. Tyler Reves, 37, all four of whom have been sentenced.

Judge England scheduled McFall's sentencing hearing for 9 a.m. Oct. 3. McFall remains in federal custody in Sacramento County Jail.

He could spend up to 15 years in prison for his conviction connected to a public-corruption scheme to build a power plant at the Port of Stockton. The plant was never built, but investigators believe McFall and others illegally pressured power producer Calpine to withdraw its proposal to build the power plant so a project by Sunlaw Energy Corp. could go ahead.

Prosecutors believe McFall stood to make about $500,000 if the Sunlaw project was chosen over Calpine, plus $2 million if the plant was built. Dunn and Sawyer also stood to profit from the deal.

Contact reporter Phil Hayworth at phayworth@tracypress.com.

First published: Friday, July 21, 2006

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