Chris Pettit wants trial postponed to negotiate possible plea deal

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia agreed Monday to reset the trial to May 22 from March 20 after Pettit’s attorney asked for a 90-day delay.

Mathew T. Allen, Pettit’s defense lawyer, said in a court filing last week that he needed the extra time to review “the voluminous” amount of documents filed in the case. But he also wanted more time “to have thorough and adequate negotiations (with prosecutors) in an attempt
to resolve this matter
without a trial.”

Last month, the judge agreed to push back the trial’s Feb. 13 start date by five weeks after Allen said he needed more time to review the material in the case.


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Allen didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.

Garcia set a May 11 deadline for the parties to notify the court of any plea agreement. If no deal is reached, a pretrial conference will be held May 18.

A grand jury indicted Pettit, 55, in December on five counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering, charges that could land him in prison for years if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty and is being held at the Karnes County Detention Facility.

Pettit had operated a law practice for years, specializing in estate planning and personal-injury cases. He also acted as a financial and tax adviser for clients.

About a dozen clients sued Pettit alleging he had stolen millions of dollars from them. After the allegations became public in May,
he filed for bankruptcy protection
for himself and his law firm and
subsequently surrendered his law license.

He was jailed Sept. 8 after a bankruptcy judge found him in contempt of court
for not complying with orders. Pettit remained there for three months before his release was ordered by the bankruptcy judge. But he was arrested and criminally charged before he regained his freedom.

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A bankruptcy trustee has been selling various assets
in Pettit’s bankruptcy estate to pay his creditors, who have submitted claims totaling about $260 million. Those assets include real estate, automobiles and personal belongings.

The first of what’s expected to be three online auctions
of what had been Pettit’s personal property generated more than $38,000 for the estate, after deducting for expenses and the auctioneer’s 15 percent commission, a Friday bankruptcy court filing shows.

The second auction is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. March 10. Among some of the more notable items up for bid this round include life-size Boba Fett and Storm Trooper figures from the “Star Wars” films, a 2018 Porsche Panamera, a 2020 Porsche Macan and a 2018 a 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLS 450 SUV.

Mel Davis Auctions
is conducting the auction via the website HiBid. The auction will close at 10 a.m. March 20.

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