Federal Magistrate David Rush
heard arguments today in Springfield, Mo., on whether former lobbyist and health care agency executive Rusty Cranford
should continue to be held without bail pending his trial on charges that he participated in a scheme to divert money from the nonprofit for which he worked to himself and others as well as to payments to politicians and campaign funds.
Rush took the matter under advisement. Cranford will remain in custody in the meanwhile. The judge also set a schedule for producing evidence in the case and set a May 7 jury trial date, though delays seem likely.
The government asked that Cranford be held without bond because he was a flight risk
. The government alleged, based on recordings by a confidential informant, that Cranford had also talked about killing a co-conspirator. They said also that he'd moved without notice, dyed his hair, had a significant amount of cash and otherwise exhibited signs that he was preparing to flee.
Cranford's attorney disputed that. She filed exhibits today that said Cranford was employed; was needed to care for his son because of medical conditions, and had only moved to a bigger house to better care for his son. He also submitted a statement from a salon that said he dyed his hair regularly.
Cranford has also been implicated, but not charged, in a case in which one former legislator, Rep. Micah Neal,
has pleaded guilty and another, Sen. Jon Woods
, is awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to find ways to kick back money from state allotments to a Bible college in Springdale and to the health services agency, Preferred Family Healthcare, for which Cranford worked. Former Rep. Eddie Cooper has pleaded guilty in the conspiracy in which Cranford is charged and has provided information alleging heavy gambling and drug use by Cranford.
The recordings the government submitted between Cranford and an information he allegedy
approached about a hit on a co-conspirator include remarks by Cranford about checks he'd sent to legislators and federal inquiries into actions of as many as 20 of them. He also said in the tape he'd done nothing "dirty."
DYE DEFENSE: Introduced in court today.