Wygant hearing delayed
SACRAMENTO — The first status conference hearing in the child pornography case of former fire Capt. Mark McLeod Wygant was continued Monday and Wygant won’t make an appearance in court for more than a month.
The hearing, which was originally scheduled for Thursday, was moved to May 7, according to court documents.
Federal judge Morrison C. England Jr. determined there was enough merit for the continuance after defense attorney Rachelle Barbour argued she needed more time to review discovery provided by the prosecution, conduct defense investigations and discuss the case with Wygant and the prosecution.
“The continuance is necessary for the ongoing preparation of counsel,” the document read.
Additionally, the roughly month-and-a-half delay will not be taken into account for Speedy Trial Act computations, as it’s being considered time for ongoing preparation of counsel, the document stated.
Wygant has been in federal custody since Jan. 29, after an FBI and South Lake Tahoe Police Department investigation concluded that a USB drive containing child pornography found at a South Lake Tahoe Fire station locker belonged to him. He was initially arrested on a single charge of receiving child pornography, but that charge was later replaced with a six-count federal indictment.
Wygant currently faces five counts of attempted sexual exploitation of children and one count of sexual exploitation of children. The charges stem from events that occurred on or about Feb. 14, 2011, April 25, 2011, June 22, 2011, Jan. 2, 2012 and Feb. 9, 2012, when Wygant allegedly filmed a girl he was legally responsible for by placing an iPhone and other cameras in a bathroom to record the victim naked for sexual gratification.
Wygant resigned from the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department about six days after his arrest after briefly being placed on paid administrative leave while the City of South Lake Tahoe concluded an investigation into his charges. He was reportedly about to be fired when he presented his resignation.
If convicted, Wygant faces between 15 and 20 years in prison for each count and a fine for as much as $250,000.
Following Wygant’s arrest, SLTFD staff reported several instances of harassment from residents, mostly verbal offenses related to the case. SLTFD Chief Jeff Meston said he understood the public’s reaction to the incident but added that Wygant’s alleged actions did not represent the culture of the department. He said staff initially suffered a hit to morale, but that with time the department was recovering from the blow.
Wygant is in federal custody in Sacramento awaiting his next day in court.
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