Posted at: 01/03/2013 5:55 PM
Updated at: 01/03/2013 5:58 PM
By: Brett Davidsen
A former Monroe County manager and minister accused of obstructing justice is asking that wiretap evidence against him be thrown out.
Reverend Ronald House appeared in federal court in Buffalo Thursday afternoon with his attorney for pre-trial motion arguments.
House was a former human resource manager for Monroe County before he resigned last year. He is also a well-known in the community as an anti-violence activist and spent time on the boards of Crime Stoppers and Project Exile.
But federal investigators say House, 57, was secretly using his influence to enrich himself. He is accused of taking money from convicted criminals in return for trying to help them get more lenient sentences.
During their investigation, the government used criminal informants, wiretaps and even a tracking device on House's vehicles in hopes of implicating him in the crimes.
His attorney, Scott Green argued the use of the wiretaps was unnecessary and any evidence could have been gathered by other means.
"One of the elements to getting a wiretap is showing that you've exhausted normal administrative or normal investigative techniques, and in this particular case, the government did not make the showing that is necessary," said Green. "And we're going to ask the court to suppress the conversations that were overheard over the wiretap."
House is also asking that the case be moved to Rochester. It is being heard in Buffalo because many of the federal judges and prosecutors may either know House or be called as witnesses.
"The defense says it's more convenient for them to be in Rochester, and we argue that fair administration of justice needs to be heard here," said federal prosecutor Lisa Fletcher.
"Basically all the witnesses, all the evidence, the defendant, myself, we're all located in Rochester and I think that's where it should be," said Green.
In court today, Green floated the idea that newly confirmed federal judge Frank Geraci could potentially hear the case because he would not have had any conflicts. Geraci has not yet been seated on the federal bench in Rochester. He is currently a Monroe County Court judge.
The judge in Buffalo did not rule on the motion arguments today. He reserved decision.