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Mar 30, 2012 9:10 AM by AP

Judge reinstates Monroe councilmen's convictions

MONROE, La. (AP) - A federal judge in Monroe has changed his mind about whether two city councilmen should get a new trial on racketeering and bribery charges. Instead of beginning a new trial on April 16th for Arthur Gilmore and Red Stevens, U.S. District Judge Robert James said he will sentence them on that date.

Because James reinstated their convictions Thursday, Arthur Gilmore and Red Stevens will be removed from the council immediately, City Council Chairman Jay Marx told The News-Star.

In September, James ruled that they should get a new trial because the jury and defense never heard some evidence about the prosecution's star witness. But on Thursday, he ruled that the evidence doesn't require a new trial.

Marx said the council will vote on who should replace Gilmore and Stevens until the November election.

James ruled a day after Stevens' and Gilmore's attorneys asked him to push back their trial date to give them more time to prepare.

In September, James granted the defense's motion for a new trial because the court was never made aware Eddie Hakim, the government's star witness, was facing an IRS investigation.

He said Thursday that evidence from two days of hearings in January indicates that, at worst, the IRS would have found that it was too late to penalize Hakim for failing to pay taxes on his share of a land sale and swap. "This does not justify a new trial," he ruled.

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