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Danville prosecutor drops out of federal gang trial

Danville prosecutor drops out of federal gang trial

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Danville Commonwealth's Attorney Michael Newman has stepped down as a special counsel in a federal racketeering and murder trial on alleged gang activity in the city, court documents show.

The move comes amid a flurry questions over missing transcripts of state grand jury testimony in recent years thought to be tied to the ongoing federal case. Newman operated the grand jury hearings in question, attorneys noted in court Thursday, and should have known about their existence and informed federal prosecutors so it could be included in discovery, which is the act of the prosecution handing over information it has on a defendant's case.

In a court document filed Friday morning, Newman noted that he did not keep a list or record of witnesses that were subpoenaed to testify in multiple multi-jurisdictional state grand juries empaneled from 2015-18 to investigate violent crime in and around Danville. To make up for that, he has been relying on memory, recordings of interviews and copies of subpoenas to create a list of witnesses called on for those grand juries, the court document states.

"As a result of the above, I am withdrawing as counsel of record for the United States," he wrote in the court brief filed Friday morning.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Urbanski, who is overseeing the federal trial, is expected to rule today on whether to delay the trial, drop criminal charges against the eight defendants or declare a mistrial because of the missing transcripts. 

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