Trial delayed for second time in missing tax money case

Amelia Holliday Staff Reporter

January 10, 2014

HAZARD—Yet another motion for trial continuance has been granted in the case of a former sheriff’s office employee, which was set to begin Monday, after both the prosecutor and defense attorney revealed they had not had sufficient time to review the abundance of evidence related to the case.

Lana Dean, 67, was indicted in 2012 on one count of abuse of public trust over $100,000 after allegedly stealing money from taxes collected while she was working as bookkeeper in the sheriff’s office from 2002 to 2006 in the amount of nearly $600,000.

Commonwealth’s Attorney John Hansen had filed for a continuance for the original trial date, which was set for Nov. 4, citing his need for an assistant attorney who would not be available until December. Defense attorney David Johnson did not object to this motion since, at the time, there was what he called a plethora of evidence that had still not been made available for review.

Judge William Engle granted that motion, setting the new trial for January; however, said he was frustrated with the case on Thursday after another motion for continuance was filed because the attorneys and their experts have had a lengthy amount of time to review the evidence.

“So, it’s been there going on two months, and you all haven’t even looked at it?” Engle asked the attorneys.

Attorney Jonathan Wilder, with Johnson’s law firm, who was present in court on Thursday, said he was not prepared to talk about this case yet since Johnson had been ill recently and the evidence had not been reviewed to his knowledge.

Hansen said the evidence was very extensive and detailed, adding that he had over 20 boxes of files of evidence in his office to be reviewed by experts.

Engle said he did not think it was acceptable that the attorneys were not yet prepared for trial.

“I don’t know if she’s guilty or not guilty. My job is to make sure that it gets resolved, and right now it doesn’t look like it will be,” he said.

Engle granted the motion, and set the new trial for April 7.