Court Rejects Freedom for Montoya While He Appeals

From Associated Press

A federal appeals court on Monday rejected Joseph Montoya's request to remain free while appealing his conviction on corruption charges, paving the way for the former state senator to begin serving a 6 1/2-year prison sentence.

The decision was contained in a three-page ruling issued by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal prosecutors said a hearing will be scheduled in Sacramento to determine when Montoya, a Whittier Democrat, will be required to surrender to authorities.

Montoya, 50, former chairman of the Senate Business and Professions Committee, was convicted Feb. 2 of one count of money laundering, one count of racketeering and five counts of extortion. According to court testimony, Montoya extorted money from well-heeled special interests by demanding payment in return for official favors.

He had appealed his conviction and asked the court to allow him to remain free while pursuing his appeal. On Monday, the federal appeals court denied his request.

Mary Farmer, a spokeswoman for U.S. Atty. David Levi, said U.S. District Judge Milton Schwartz is expected to schedule a hearing to determine when Montoya will be required to surrender. The date of the hearing has not yet been set.

"He could be required to surrender immediately, at the hearing, or the judge could set a date for him to surrender" to federal authorities, Farmer said.

Montoya is expected to serve his term at the federal camp at Lompoc near Santa Barbara, a minimum-security institution populated largely by white-collar criminals without a history of violence.

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