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Psychiatric problems delay fraud trial of former aide to NYC comptroller

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 6 Feb 2013 00:18 GMT
Author: Reuters
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NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - The fraud trial of a former fundraiser for New York City Comptroller John Liu has been delayed after the ex-aide was involuntarily committed to a hospital for psychiatric treatment, the judge said on Tuesday.

Xing Wu Pan, known as Oliver, faces charges that he broke campaign financing laws in 2011 by helping donors to Liu's 2013 mayoral election campaign fund circumvent donation limits through so-called straw donors.

Liu is not facing charges and as comptroller serves as New York City's fiscal watchdog, analyzing and auditing the city's finances.

Liu is running as a Democratic candidate in this year's New York City mayoral election, although the alleged irregularities by his former associates may prove a liability.

Pan was due to go on trial on Monday, along with Jia Hou, Liu's former campaign treasurer, who faces similar charges of conspiracy and attempted wire fraud.

The trial was postponed after the court learned late last week that Pan, 47, had been committed into psychiatric care.

"Mr. Pan has been involuntarily committed in connection with a mental health condition," Manhattan Federal Court Judge Richard Sullivan said at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday.

Few details were given, and Sullivan ordered letters and records of discussions with Pan's attorneys regarding the issue to be sealed from the public to protect Pan's privacy.

Irwin Rochman, one of Pan's lawyers, told the court his client was coherent and able to talk with him.

Doctors were monitoring and treating him and were unsure when he might be released, Rochman added.

The judge asked Pan's doctors to provide by Friday a written diagnosis and their opinion on whether Pan is competent to stand trial.

Sullivan has tentatively set April 15 for the start of the trial, which is expected to last two or three weeks, but added it may start sooner depending on Pan's health.

The court may also decide to try Hou separately, he said. (Reporting Ellen Wulfhorst; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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