Kelly Gearhart’s trial delayed a fourth time
October 15, 2013
By KAREN VELIE
For the fourth time, former Atascadero “Person of the Year” and prominent North County land developer Kelly Gearhart’s fraud trial has been delayed.
Gearhart’s public defender, Kim Savo, successfully requested another delay in her client’s trial originally scheduled for Oct. 9, 2012.
Savo noted a variety of reasons for the early delays including the need to have more time to review financial documents, recordings of a radio interviews from the Dave Congalton Show and phone recordings. In her latest motion, Savo asks the court to delay Gearhart’s trial because she will be out of state due to an adoption.
In her latest motion, Savo asked the court to grant a continuance from Nov. 12, 2013 to July 15, 2014.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Goorvitch opposed the lengthy continuance and instead requested a new trial date of Feb. 18, 2014.
Goorvitch argued that the original trial date has already been continued for a lengthy amount of time, that the vast majority of discovery was made available last year, and that the continuance will require James Miller’s sentencing to also be extended, according to court records.
Gearhart and Miller, the former president of Hurst Financial, allegedly defrauded more than 1,200 investors of more than $100 million in an alleged Ponzi scheme. Miller and Gearhart bilked investors who put money into Central Coast real estate projects and then siphoned off the monies for other purposes, including maintaining lavish lifestyles, federal authorities alleged.
In the summer of 2011, Miller agreed to plead guilty to charges of fraud and money laundering as part of a plea agreement the court then filed under seal. It is likely that his testimony against Gearhart and others will result in a shortened prison sentence.
Because of the court’s Oct. 8 order to delay Gearhart’s trial, Miller’s March 17, 2014 sentencing date will also be delayed, according to court records.
In August 2012, Gearhart pleaded not guilty to 16 charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering at a federal court in Los Angeles. He faces up to 300 years in federal prison if convicted on all charges.
Both men remain out of jail on bail.