Cordell arrested by U.S. Marshals
by Brande Poulnot
Aug 29, 2010 | 5857 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The 2005 mayoral candidate at the center of both federal and state criminal cases involving the circumstances surrounding and leading up to the 2004 blaze that leveled his Old Mill Road home is behind bars.

Federal law enforcement authorities Thursday arrested Howard Gregory Cordell, citing he is a danger to the community and could be trying to obtain another continuance or otherwise avoid the federal trial, which is set to begin next month.

A representative of the U.S. Marshal's Rome office, who answered the phone but declined to give his name, confirmed Cordell was arrested Thursday evening and taken to a local jail, but records indicate Cordell was not housed in the Bartow County Adult Detention Center.

The representative said he could not speak further about the case and gave no information about possible additional criminal charges against Cordell. He referred The Daily Tribune News to the federal court clerk's office.

A motion was filed Friday by the U.S. Attorney's office to revoke Cordell's pretrial release status -- Cordell had been released on his own recognizance after arraignment on the condition he report to court when summoned and to serve any sentence imposed.

In the motion, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Traynor told U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy that on "August 25, 2010, law enforcement officials learned that [Cordell] reported to his doctor that he drank 10 alcoholic drinks a day, he felt stressed about the upcoming trial, and wanted to kill those involved in the prosecution."

Jury selection in the federal case is set to begin Sept. 8 with the start of the presentation of evidence scheduled for Sept. 13.

Federal deputy marshals and law enforcement agents had planned to interview Cordell on Thursday, but decided not to pursue such a conversation at his home due to an apparent hunting blind in his yard.

They instead conducted a traffic stop on Cordell near his Cartersville home Thursday evening.

Agents say Cordell had a loaded semi-automatic pistol wedged between the driver's seat and center console of the pick-up truck he was driving and a bag containing about $7,000 in cash. In his motion, Traynor said possession of the money contradicts Cordell's statements that he was indigent and could not afford to hire an attorney. The prosecuting attorney is petitioning the court to order the cash be used to help offset the costs of Cordell's attorneys. Court records indicate he is represented by two federal defenders, Thomas Hawker and Thomas Waldrop.

Traynor said in his motion Cordell's alleged conduct on Wednesday and Thursday "demonstrated he is a danger to the community" and "evidences his determination to obtain yet another continuance of his trial or otherwise avoid trial and, therefore, the court can no longer be reasonably assured that he will appear for trial as required." Also Cordell's alleged possession of the firearm could violate federal statute, "depending on what is learned about the firearm," the motion says.

The prosecuting attorney asked the judge to revoke Cordell's pretrial release or, in the alternative, place Cordell "under the supervision of a probation officer authorized to search [Cordell's] home and vehicles to ensure they do not contain any firearms, explosives, weapons or dangerous devices." Traynor said in the motion the probation officer also should be "authorized to examine Cordell's financial condition and control of vehicles and other assets."

Cordell was indicted in federal court in February 2009, and since that time, his case has been continued several times. He was re-indicted in January of this year, and faces bank fraud, loan application fraud and money laundering charges.