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Continuance sought for Bigstaff in criminal case

2/8/2018

By Tom Marshall
Senior Advocate writer

A federal judge has granted a continuance to the trial date in a criminal case against T.J. Bigstaff III in U.S. District Court in Lexington.
The trial was set to begin Feb. 12 before U.S. District Judge Joseph M. Hood on a charge that he reportedly “knowingly and intentionally” manufactured 100 or more marijuana plants between January 2016 and Sept. 11, 2017, in Montgomery County.

Bigstaff has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

After a hearing on a motion for a continuance Monday, Hood entered an order rescheduling the trial to begin 9 a.m. April 2. The estimated length of the trial is three days, according to the judge’s order.

“Defense counsel advised that additional time is needed due to the volume of discovery and to potentially resolve the matter,” Hood explains in the order.

Bigstaff’s attorney, Bryce L. Caldwell of Owensboro, cites a couple of potential conflicts with the Feb. 12 trial date in a motion for a continuance filed Jan. 24.
Caldwell stated in the motion that he is already scheduled to represent a client in a jury trial beginning Feb. 19 in Daviess County involving a defendant charged by the grand jury there with murder.

“As presently scheduled, the undersigned cannot be prepared for trial in the above captioned matter due to the time and obligations required in the Daviess County matter,” the motion says. “The undersigned has discussed this issue with the Assistant United States Attorney handling this matter and it is conveyed to the undersigned that no objection would be made to this motion.”

The motion also states that “during the pendency of this matter it was discovered that additional investigation is required that could aid in the defendant’s defense of this matter.”

In a response to the motion filed Jan. 31, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Tanner Bradley offers no objection to a continuance.

“It is the United States’ understanding that defense counsel is attempting to obtain information concerning other possible federal and/or state investigations concerning defendant’s land and/or other individual’s or entities’ alleged access to or use of defendant’s land during the time frame of the criminal activity alleged in the superseding indictment,” the response says.

“It is also the United State’s understanding that the recent lapse in federal funding may have made it more difficult for defense counsel to obtain such information, if it exists,” the response adds.

Bradley, however, says in the response that she is unaware of any evidence along those lines.

“The United States is not aware of the existence of any such information, but has requested that counsel produce all documents and objects that the defendant obtains and intends to use in defendant’s case-in-chief at trial,” the response says.

“The United States would further add that the parties continue to engage in plea negotiations and that any such evidence may impact the parties’ ability to reach a final resolution,” the response adds. “The parties continue to negotiate in good faith and believe that additional time may obviate the need for a jury trial in this matter.”

Bigstaff has also waived his rights under the Speedy Trial Act. He has a right to trial within 70 days from the date of his arraignment, in which the Feb. 12 date would have fallen.

“Being aware of those rights, and affirming to the court that it is necessary for his attorney to have additional time to review discovery, file appropriate pre-trial motions and otherwise prepare for the trial the defendant specifically waives his rights under the Speedy Trial Act,” Caldwell states in the waiver.

Hood agreed Monday to exclude the time between Feb. 12 and April 2 from Speedy Trial Act requirements.

Bigstaff faces not less than five years nor more than 40 years in prison, not more than a $5 million fine and not less than four years supervised release, if convicted.

The Kentucky States Police Cannibus Suppression Branch reported it seized 6,791 marijuana plants Sept. 11, 2017, at the J.M. Bigstaff estate farm at 2603 Paris Pike.

The plants were reportedly observed from a KSP helicopter flying overhead.

Twelve suspected illegal immigrants were also reportedly located on the property and turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.