Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

January 31, 2013

Ward attorneys: Still missing city records

MATT MILNER
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — Attorneys for the former Ottumwa Transit Authority director say the city has not handed over records needed for her trial.

Pam Ward was charged in December with four counts of making false statements to the federal government. The charges stem from accusations, first made public in a 2011 state audit, that OTA was inflating ridership numbers. Those inflated numbers were used on federal grant applications.

At issue is discovery, the process by which a defendant can seek documents, records and other evidence in an attempt to prove innocence.

The filing states:

"The Government's discovery contained hundreds of pages of documents for review and investigation, but did not contain certain documents the Government had apparently not been provided by the Ottumwa Transit Authority, 10-15 Regional Transit Agency and the City of Ottumwa, Iowa the successor to the Ottumwa Transit Authority."

It appears the request is not new. The motion filed in federal court says Ward requested copies of "certain documents on her work computer in the records of the OTA and 10-15 [Transit] but that request was denied." The defense says those documents contain "exculpatory, admissible, relevant information."

Defense papers also cite the city council's decision to eliminate OTA as an independent authority and take direct control with the OTA board becoming advisory.

"The City may now have the care, custody and control of these records," the filing states.

Ward was originally scheduled for trial in early March, with a deadline of February 9 for filing motions and notices of defense. Any motions to continue the trial were due February 19.

Defendants in the U.S. are guaranteed a right to a speedy trial. Defendants are also guaranteed the right to effective legal representation. The new filing effectively waives the right to a speedy trial in order to allow the defense to better prepare an effective case.

Prosecutors did not object to the delay, according to the filing.