Judge cuts sentence after defense lawyer claims 'shady shenanigans' by federal prosecutor

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A federal judge in Kansas City, Kansas, has slashed a defendant’s sentence from 20 to nine years in prison, citing a federal prosecutor’s failure to “conduct herself as a prosecutor must.”

U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree of the District of Kansas said he was cutting the drug and counterfeiting sentence for Jay Giannukos, 49, because Assistant U.S. Attorney Terra Morehead did not turn over relevant evidence to the defense, the Kansas City Star reports in a story noted by the Associated Press.

Crabtree cut Giannukos’ sentence May 10 after his lawyer, Angela Williams, submitted a motion accusing Morehead of “shady shenanigans.”

Williams said Morehead had failed to timely disclose a video showing a key witness’s fall from a railing in prison, according to the Kansas City Star. The witness had testified that his fall was an accident, but the video could have shown that the fall was intentional. Morehead didn’t acknowledge that a video existed until Giannukos’ former lawyer raised the issue at an earlier sentencing hearing.

Morehead was reassigned from criminal to civil cases earlier this year after a federal judge criticized her conduct in another drug prosecution and noted that she apparently accessed recordings of attorney-client phone calls. The judge said Morehead “substantially interfered” with a defense witness’s decision to testify in the drug case and was late in disclosing evidence.

Morehead was involved in another controversial prosecution in 1994 while a county prosecutor. The man, who spent 23 years in prison, was later exonerated and awarded $1.5 million in a lawsuit settlement.

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