The case against a longtime county attorney accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients and employers will move forward in Warren County.
Brenda Gibson has been a solicitor for over two decades, there are hundreds of documented victims of her alleged crimes and there has been continuous media coverage of the allegations against her for over six months.
On Friday, Gibson’s attorney, Stephen Sebald, used those facts as the basis for a change of venue request in the Gibson case.
“It’s pretty much tainted any jury,” Sebald said Friday. “The Times Observer had several articles.”
He noted the circulation of the newspaper and its presence online and on social networks.
“The amount of publicity in this case has created an atmosphere in which we will not be able to choose an impartial jury,” said Sebald.
Deputy Attorney General Heather Serrano said the motion was premature. “Injury cannot be proven until a jury is appointed,” she says.
“I looked at the articles” said presiding judge Maureen Skerda.
“The articles simply state what the charges are” and present details of the allegations, Skerda said. “They weren’t sensational or inflammatory. It’s just factual.
As for the frequency of coverage, she said she would consider “daily or weekly coverage” be “invasive.”
According to a Times Observer count, there have been six articles that focused on or mentioned the allegations against Gibson since the charges were announced in October, as well as two articles in September that focused on the shutdown of the company in the middle of an investigation. and a search warrant served on the office.
“At this time, I reject the motion”, Skerda said.
She indicated that Sebald could reintroduce the motion at the time of jury selection if he feels the jury pool is tainted.
Gibson is charged with two counts of theft by unlawful taking, two counts of theft by failure to properly dispose of funds, and two counts of receiving stolen property for failing to properly submit a payment of more than $420,000 to more than 700 clients in her work as a notary and billing them more than $40,000 for services she allegedly did not render.
In a previous role, Gibson faces 13 felonies and three misdemeanors related to allegations that she stole $134,000 from the Dyke garage in Bear Lake, where she was employed for 16 years, and $325,000 from the township. of Deerfield, where she had been secretary/treasurer for six years. .
A settlement conference is scheduled for June 13 and a scheduling call, to possibly schedule a trial, is set for June 27.