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Judge rules to unseal grand jury transcripts in Palm Springs corruption case


A judge overseeing the corruption case against former Mayor Steve Pougnet, Developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney ruled Friday to unseal the grand jury transcripts, citing a lack of reasonable probability that the release would cause prejudice to the defendants.

The judge agreed to set the unsealing date for March 4, per the defense's request, to avoid an "onslaught" to Meaney, Pougnet, and Wessman.

The decision came after two hours of exchanges among the prosecution, defense, and judge. The judge paused periodically to assess other cases during the two-hour span.

All three defendants were present in court Friday. Jake Ingrassia is at the Larson Justice Center in Indio covering the case - you can follow his live tweets from court below.

Click the tweet to follow along with Jake's live updates inside the courtroom

In September, David Greenberg, Wessman's attorney, filed a motion to keep the grand jury transcripts sealed. The defense argued that the transcripts needed to remain sealed to guarantee a fair trial. News Channel 3 has maintained that the records be released.

John Hall, spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's Office says the judge could also rule on a motion to dismiss the case.

"The defense motion to dismiss to indictment will be argued and the judge may rule," Hall told News Channel 3 Thursday.

Hall also said yesterday that he was unsure if the three defendants themselves will be present for the hearing since the judge has ruled in the past that they do not have to be present at all court hearings.

Meaney and Wessman are accused of paying Pougnet $375,000 worth of bribes for favorable votes in 2012 and 2014 relating to projects of the two developers.

Meaney and Wessman face possible 12-year prison sentences if convicted. Pougnet faces a 19-year sentence.

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Rich Tarpening

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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Sam Benson Smith

Sam Benson Smith is the Digital Content Director for Gulf California Broadcasting. Learn more about Sam here.


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