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Judge Rules Palm Springs Corruption Case Will Continue; Defendants Plead Not Guilty

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A big set back for defense attorneys for former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet and developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney as a judge dismisses the argument that the statute of limitations expired on the charges against them. 

"We were trying to have the court rule that some of the charges weren't even allowed to be brought  against our clients before we even started the case," said Wessman's attorney David Greenberg.

Defense attorneys for Pougnet argued that three of the felony charges brought against him should be lowered to misdemeanors. Judge Hopp disagreed. The second objection from the defense was its assertion that the statute of limitations had expired on the three co-defendants. But not according to Judge Hopp who decided the case would move forward.   

Related: Timeline: Palm Springs City Officials and Developers Charged With Corruption

"We're of course disappointed in the rulings, but the court did say that some of the issues, specifically dealing with the Mr. Wessman as to the statute of limitations, could be brought up during the preliminary hearing once facts are expanded on and grown," Greenberg said.

"We anticipated the motions that were brought forward today, they're standard motions that are brought forth in these types of cases. So we were prepared for what you saw in court today," said Deputy District Attorney Amy Zois Barajas.

Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin announced the charges against the three co-defendants eight months ago and they were last in court four months ago. Some have questioned the extended amount of time it's taken for the proceedings to move forward.

Related: Palm Springs Corruption Case Moved To Indio, Pougnet Faces Additional Charge

"That delay unfortunately was really just due to scheduling. When you have a case like this with this many lawyers, it can be hard to find a date that's convenient for everyone. So that delay is kind of common when you have multi-defendant case, trying to get everyone at the same place at the same time," said Deputy District Attorney Emily Hanks. 

Wessman and Meaney are accused of bribing Pougnet with $375,000 dollars in return for favorable votes. Pougnet voted for and supported projects for both developers including the ongoing downtown development.

"We're really looking forward to getting started. Getting cracking on this case," said Greenberg.

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