THOUSAND OAKS : Fraud Suspect Is Denied Speedy Trial

A man accused of helping to perpetrate the biggest fraud in Ventura County history is not entitled to a speedy trial if his co-defendants want to delay the proceeding, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday.

Judge Allan L. Steele granted a prosecution request to delay the trial of Felix Laumann of Cambria until Sept. 23 so he can be tried with his co-defendants, Olen B. Phillips of Thousand Oaks and Charles J. Francoeur of Agoura Hills.

All three men were indicted in February on charges that they bilked 21 people out of more than $3 million. Investigators have said that more than 2,000 investors may have lost more than $30 million in deals handled by Phillips' companies.

Steele previously granted requests by Phillips and Francoeur to delay their trials so they can prepare their defenses. Laumann, who is named in 27 counts of the 81-count indictment, was scheduled for trial next Monday, and his attorney, Deputy Public Defender John H. Voigtsberger, argued against any delay.

Outside court, Voigtsberger said prosecutors want to keep the cases together so they can tar Laumann with the crimes charged to the other defendants.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Rebecca J. Riley argued that Prop. 115 allows a judge to postpone trial for all defendants in a case if one of them is granted a continuance.

Riley predicted that the trial might last as long as five months and could involve as many as 40 witnesses. "In terms of judicial economy, it would be a mess" to have two trials, she said.

All three defendants remain free on bail.

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