Oliver Pan, scheduled to go on trial yesterday to face fraud charges tied to the campaign of New York City Comptroller John C. Liu, has been involuntarily committed at a hospital, a judge said.
U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan in New York, who is presiding over the case, today adjourned the trial until April 15 so he could review reports about Pan’s competency to stand trial and his ability to participate in his defense.
The judge also set a Feb. 8 deadline for Pan’s doctors to give him any reports they have about Pan’s mental health and competency.
“Mr. Pan has been involuntarily committed in connection with a mental health condition,” Sullivan said in court today. “He is currently hospitalized and is undergoing treatment of an undetermined and potentially indefinite duration.”
Pan, 47, was set to go on trial with Jia “Jenny” Hou, 26, Liu’s former campaign treasurer, on charges they used “straw donors” to illegally funnel thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Liu’s 2013 campaign.
Irwin Rochman, a lawyer for Pan, told the judge he met with his client and that “he has been coherent, able to converse with us and talk with us. We see no diminution in his ability to communicate with us.”
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brian Jacobs told Sullivan the government was prepared to go to trial and agreed to any delay granted by the court.
Hou’s lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, told Sullivan he and his client consented to a delay in the trial and didn’t want a separate trial.
Sullivan said he could appoint his own expert to evaluate Pan and asked Rochman if he thought his client would be ready to go to trial sooner than April if his doctors deemed him fit to proceed.
“We think we’d need a few days,” Rochman said. “After that, then we’d be prepared to go to trial and it’s our desire to do so. I can’t get a firm answer until then.”
Sullivan said he would wait to see the report about Pan’s mental condition.
“I’m not faulting you for not having any firm information or a crystal ball,” he said.
Both defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, are charged with conspiracy and wire fraud. Hou is also charged with obstruction. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Liu, who is now a candidate for mayor, isn’t accused of wrongdoing.
The case is U.S. v. Pan, 1:12-cr-00153, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). For Related News and Information:
To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at email@example.com