RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Former Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet, and developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney were all together in a Riverside court for the first time Friday.
This came about 3 months after District Attorney Mike Hestrin filed bribery and corruption charges against the three men, alleging Meaney and Wessman paid Pougnet $375,000 hundreds for political influence, when it came to city development projects.
Each of the three men already had their first individual court appearance throughout the last couple of months.
All three men declined to comment at their arraignment, where each had no plea.
In court, prosecutors also amended the complaint filed against Pougnet.
“We’ve removed one of the conflicts of interest counts, and we’ve added two more,” Riverside County District Attorney’s Office Public Information Officer John Hall said. “Those pertain to the Kimpton Hotel and to the Marriott hotel.
Hall added the removed count against Pougnet was in reference to Count 23, regarding the Morrison Subdivision.
“Just based on the evidence, (and) further investigation that we’ve done since the original complaint was filed, we believe that that is not something we can charge at this point,” he said.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys filed a demurer motion, challenging parts of the complaint filed.
“We’ve argued that some of the charges are outside the statute of limitations,” John Wessman’s attorney David Greenberg said. “That is the complaint was filed too long after the crimes allegedly occurred. And that’s not allowed.”
At the end, all sides agreed to move the case to Indio, where defense attorneys said it will help their case.
“We think that we have a very good opportunity to try this case in front of citizens who care about the case, and are affected by the case,” Greenberg said.
While prosecutors said they're not worried about location.
“We’re confident with what we heard with this case, and we’ll hear it wherever it needs to be heard at this point.”
Pougnet's attorney, Malcolm Segal, provided this previous statement to us regarding how the former palm springs mayor will plead: “Mr. Pougnet will plead not guilty at the appropriate point in the process.”
KESQ and CBS Local 2 also reached out to Meaney’s attorney, Peter Scalisi, for comment, but have not heard back.
The arraignment is scheduled to be continued June 30th at 8:30 a.m. in Indio.