Half the federal charges against Cordell dismissed
by Brande Poulnot
Sep 05, 2010 | 3123 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
U.S. attorneys this week dismissed six of the 12 federal charges against Gregory Howard Cordell. The 2005 Cartersville mayoral candidate at the center of both state and federal criminal cases involving the circumstances surrounding and leading up to the 2004 blaze that leveled his Old Mill Road home was ordered to remain in law enforcement custody after his Aug. 26 arrest.

Cordell, of 127 Mitchell Ave. in Cartersville, was indicted in federal court in February 2009 and re-indicted in January of this year, and had faced bank fraud, loan application fraud and money laundering charges.

Following the detention decision by an Atlanta federal magistrate judge, prosecuting attorneys Tuesday dismissed fraud counts involving Cordell's purchase of automobiles and an airplane. As of Friday, Cordell, 44, still faced loan and bank fraud and money laundering charges in connection with the purchase and refinancing of the home.

Although U.S. Attorney's office spokesman Patrick Crosby said prosecuting attorneys had no comment on pretrial matters, defense attorneys had asked the court to separately try the first six counts and counts seven through 12, which involve different lenders, according to the motion to sever counts.

Cordell's attorneys argued it would be impossible for jurors to be fair and impartial if there were not two trials and that the two sets of charges were unrelated in time, subject matter and proof.

"Confusing and prejudicial evidence concerning the Old Mill [Road] home and the fire will undoubtedly poison the jurors' ability to provide Mr. Cordell a fair trial on the loans for the cars and airplane, which, as charged, occurred years later," the motion states.

Crosby said Friday that Cordell's federal trial, which had been set to begin Sept. 8, has been delayed indefinitely. A defense motion filed Wednesday requests the court continue the trial for at least 45 days to allow Cordell to undergo an evaluation for competency to stand trial.

"After the evidence was presented at the detention hearing, the magistrate expressed concern about Mr. Cordell's state of mind and raised the issue of having Mr. Cordell evaluated," the motion states. "After arguments were presented, Mr. Cordell was detained based upon the finding by the magistrate that probable cause existed that Mr. Cordell violated [federal law], which prohibits threats to assault, kidnap or murder a United States judge with the intent to impede, intimidate or interfere with such judge or to retaliate."

In a second defense motion filed Wednesday, defense attorneys asked U.S. District Court Judge Harold Murphy to recuse himself from overseeing the trial, following evidence presented in the detention hearing that Cordell to a mental health professional "expressed a plan or interest in attacking the prosecutors, the agents and the judge in the case."