A year after a federal inquiry into City Comptroller John Liu's 2013 campaign operation came to light, it became clear Monday that his former campaign treasurer and a fundraiser will head to trial. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
On Monday, a federal court judge rejected a motion to dismiss fraud charges that resulted from a federal inquiry into City Comptroller John Liu’s campaign.
The charges were made against Liu’s campaign treasurer, Jenny Hou, and a former fundraiser, Xing Wu Pan. The case will now face a jury in February.
"He made a legal ruling. We lost," said Pan’s attorney, Irwin Rochman.
Hou also argued for a separate trial, but Judge Richard Sullivan rejected that as well.
"I think the judge recognized that Ms. Hou has very strong arguments. And we are hopeful and look forward to the trial," said Gerald Lefcourt, Hou’s attorney.
Both defendants are accused of concocting a straw-donor scheme to get over-the-limit campaign donations to the comptroller. The case has attracted considerable attention as Liu is considering a run for mayor next year.
At a Monday event with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a potential 2013 rival, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Liu did not weigh in on what was occurring in court.
"I certainly expect and hope that the courts will treat them fairly," said Liu.
A trial could unveil the inner workings of the Liu campaign. The case has already shown the FBI tapped the comptroller's phone.
Pan's attorney argued the government engaged in abuses of power and shocking behavior to investigate the Liu campaign. At one point, Pan's attorney claimed federal investigators terrorized his client and argued that the case should be dismissed.
"He was not interested in doing anything illegal and he demonstrated that by his conduct,” said Rochman. "The only reason they continued to do that was not because they had some sincere and mistaken belief. He was the only card left to try to make a case against Mr. Liu."
The judge disagreed, saying, "This is a court of law, not a psychiatrist's couch."
He added that a case has never been dismissed on such grounds.