An attorney representing Rick Gates suggested Monday that he had been informed by prosecutors that they may bring more charges against Gates, who faces federal charges on 12 counts of money laundering, tax evasion and failure to disclose foreign lobbying in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.
The comment, by New York-based lawyer Walter Mack, came in another case Mack is working on. Mueller’s team has raised the potential of a conflict of interest with Mack working on the two cases.
“We don’t know what the government is going to do. I mean, in both cases we’ve been told that there may be a superseder,” Mack told a federal judge in New York. “We don’t know what’s happening. We’re in a situation that is very difficult under the current circumstances to articulate exactly what’s the conflict that we’re being asked to deal with.”
A “superseder” refers to a superseding indictment, which is a new indictment against an existing defendant, usually with additional counts or parties or both, that replaces the original indictment. Gates and his co-defendant, former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, have pleaded not guilty.
The hearing Monday was in a federal case where Mack’s client, Steven Brown, has been accused of fraud, attempted fraud and money laundering as part of a film investment scheme. Brown is also a longtime colleague and business associate of Gates, prosecutors have said in court filings, where they raised the potential that one of the men would have to serve as a witness in the other’s case.
On Monday, Brown had to answer a series of questions in front of the New York federal judge to confirm that he was aware of the potential conflict and that he was moving forward with Mack as his attorney anyway. One of his alleged co-conspirators, James David Williams, entered a guilty plea earlier this year, and Mack indicated Monday that he believed Williams was the source of some of the information prosecutors cited in their filings about a potential conflict.
A transcript of Monday’s hearing, known as a Curcio hearing, was filed by Mueller Tuesday in Gates’ case, where the judge had asked for updates on how the conflict issue was proceeding in New York.
Before Mack made the comment Monday about possibility of more charges bring brought against his clients, he complained about the press attention the prosecutors’ filings about the potential conflict had attracted.
“It seems to me that the level of detail in the government’s letter is of use to the Court to explain to me why I should go through the — I can’t find the right adjective for what I think of Curcio hearings, but I think they are generally toothless,” the judge, Kimba Wood, responded. “So it tells me why the government believes there is potential for overlap.”