February 24, 2013
LAFAYETTE — Federal prosecutors are asking to postpone by at least two months the scheduled March trial of Carencro strip club owner James Panos, citing the case’s complexity and abundance of evidence to be studied.
Panos’ trial on one count of conspiracy of maintaining a drug-involved premises at Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret is scheduled for March 25, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Myers P. Namie said in court papers is too soon.
Panos, 54, was indicted in December after government agents raided Desperado’s in a drugs and prostitution investigation.
Namie said in the request to delay the trial filed Thursday that prosecutors have 25 seized boxes of documents from the now-shuttered club off Interstate 49 north of Lafayette, “as well as a large amount of electronic information from computers also seized from Desperado’s Gentlemen’s Cabaret.”
And, Namie said, “the government has additional discovery material related to approximately 30 law enforcement purchases of narcotics from Desperados” including statements from witnesses, drug evidence and recordings.
Panos’ attorney, Scott Iles, said Friday that he had not seen the evidence against Panos. Iles said he would examine the volume of the government’s evidence and gauge its complexity before deciding how to respond to Namie’s request to extend the trial date.
“I will synthesize it and make that decision as to whether I object or not,” Iles said.
Iles filed a request in mid February that seeks to move the trial out of Lafayette Parish, where Iles claimed all manner of media coverage likely has tainted the jury pool.
Namie cites Panos’ change-of-venue motion in his request to delay the trial. Namie said U.S. District Judge Beth Foote might require an evidentiary hearing before deciding whether the hold the trial elsewhere, which would further cramp the timetable leading the March 25 trial.
Namie on Friday filed an opposition to moving the trial, saying Iles’ change of venue request was vague and does not provide a legal analysis.
Also, “other pretrial motions and hearings are anticipated,” Namie wrote.
There also is a legal fight in federal civil court involving Panos and the federal government.
In early February, Panos filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, whose agents confiscated collectors-item firearms from Panos’ Lafayette home in Le Triomphe.
Panos lists rifles with values ranging from $1,995 to $2,995, handguns worth $1,995 and $2,295, and a shotgun costing $1,995.
Iles has said the guns were kept at Panos’ home, were never at the club in Carencro, and that he wants them returned.