LeNature's appeal tied to attorney
Another former LeNature's executive is asking a federal judge to set aside his 15-year prison sentence because his defense attorney would not allow him to testify in his own defense and allegedly did not deliver on promises he made as part of his trial strategy, according to recently filed court documents.
Robert Lynn, 68, of Ligonier, asked a judge to vacate the sentence he is serving at a federal prison in Cambria County because his attorney, Thomas J. Farrell of Pittsburgh, would not let him testify in his own defense and failed to call a forensic accountant as a defense witness to rebut prosecution testimony, according to a motion filed in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh.
Lynn was convicted last year on 10 of 24 counts of bank, mail, wire fraud and conspiracy in connection with the financial collapse of the Latrobe-based beverage company that resulted in the theft of more than $800 million from banks and other lenders. A federal appeals court upheld his conviction.
“… Mr. Farrell provided ineffective assistance of counsel during critical stages of my trial proceedings and I was greatly prejudiced by the deficient conduct,” Lynn wrote.
He said Farrell insisted Lynn not testify because Farrell believed he had discredited government witnesses and didn't want to give the jury “another bite at the apple.”
Lynn said he and Farrell had a heated exchange about the decision not to call Lynn as a witness. “It is my call and you are not going to take the stand, that's final,” Farrell told Lynn, according to his account.
Farrell declined comment on Monday.
In the court document, Lynn said he protested the change in strategy because he wanted Farrell to call a handwriting expert to show that Lynn's signatures on certain financial documents were forgeries.
To buttress his argument, Lynn submitted a March 12 letter from Farrell in which Farrell advised Lynn on what legal steps to take.
“Right now, the only allegation of which I can conceive is my ineffective assistance at trial,” Farrell wrote. “You might argue that I gave you bad advice in discouraging you from testifying, in particular, I overestimated the likelihood that we would prevail on appeal with our argument that the prosecutor improperly commented on your right not to testify.
“Rest assured that I take no offense if you choose to pursue an effective assistance of counsel petition. I will do whatever I can to assist you in advancing your cause, within the limits of the law. I must testify truthfully,” Farrell wrote.
According to federal prosecutors, Lynn played a critical role in helping CEO Gregory Podlucky defraud investors and lenders into believing LeNature's was a successful company when in reality it was hemorrhaging red ink.
Lynn misled investors about the company's true financial status by hiding bleak financial news from investors, prosecutors said.
After his conviction, Lynn appealed his sentence, but an appeals court judge upheld the punishment, saying the 15-year term was “substantively reasonable.”
Under sentencing guidelines, Lynn could have been sentenced to anywhere from 27 to 34 years.
Podlucky is serving 20 years in prison. He filed a similar motion in October, arguing that his attorney misled him about the terms of a plea bargain, which Podlucky claimed would have reduced his sentence and prevented his wife and son from going to prison.
Podlucky's wife, Karla, is serving more than four years; his son, Jesse is serving nine years; a brother, Jonathan, is serving five years. Another company executive, Andrew Murin, is serving 11 years.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Previously convicted of embezzlement, Mt. Pleasant postal worker accused of mail theft
- Police claim woman stabbed husband at their Jeannette business
- ‘Pink Out’ game to memorialize St. Vincent College basketball player’s late mother
- Unity lawyer to vie for Westmoreland County judgeship
- Court in the Classroom program provides insight for Norwin High School students
- Westmoreland County Park Police: Man tried to enter courthouse with gun
- Unity considers $26K software upgrade
- Inquest: Police bullet killed man in 2013 standoff in Latrobe
- Woman, animals escape Unity duplex fire
- Latrobe police to form DUI task force
- Jeannette teen, charged with killing another, took ‘selfie’ with body, court papers say