A status hearing in the federal case against South Lake Tahoe police officer Johnny Poland has been pushed back until May because of another trial involving Poland’s lawyers.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Rodriguez and defense attorneys Judith Odbert and Jeffrey Schaff have agreed to move the hearing from March 27 to May 1, according to a Monday filing in federal court in Sacramento.
Plea negotiations are underway in Poland’s case, but have been delayed by a separate matter in state court, according to the filing by the defense attorneys.
“Defense counsel and the United States are in negotiations to resolve the case, which involves legal research, fact development with investigation into potential witnesses, review of evidence proffered by the defense and possibly obtaining evidence via subpoena,” according to the document. “Defense counsel is preassigned to a trial court in Sacramento Superior Court for a two- to three-month-long jury trial; preparations for this trial have slowed counsel’s preparation in the instant matter.”
Poland was arrested in January after a FBI investigation found he provided sensitive information to people with gang connections and encouraged girlfriends to destroy evidence of the activity.
He has been charged with five counts of witness tampering and obstructing an official proceeding. Poland faces up to 20 years in prison for each count. He has been released on bail pending further proceedings, according to court documents.
Poland was placed on unpaid administrative leave at the police department following his arrest on federal charges. An administrative investigation of Poland by the police department is ongoing, said Police Chief Brian Uhler. Prior to his arrest, Poland had been on paid leave since November 2011, as the FBI investigation was under way.
El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe previously said prosecutors are looking into possible state sex charges against Poland for relationships he had with teenage girls detailed in the FBI investigation. The status of that inquiry is unknown.
Uthe was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
A voicemail left with Mastagni, Holstedt, Amick, Miller & Johnson, the firm where Schaff and Odbert work, was also not immediately returned Tuesday afternoon.