The federal government has filed a motion to dismiss the appeal of the former manager of Foothills Regional Airport.
But Alex Nelson has requested, and was granted, more time to respond to the motion, according to federal court documents.
Nelson appealed his three-year sentence for embezzlement, money laundering and participating in a public-corruption conspiracy. His sentence also includes three years supervised probation and paying restitution of $179,781.51.
Nelson reported to prison in Beckley, W.Va. on June 9.
He pleaded guilty to the charges in September 2012 at the Asheville federal courthouse.
The federal government filed a motion on Sept. 15 to suspend the briefing schedule in the case and to dismiss Nelson’s appeal on the basis that he waived his right to appeal his sentence in his plea agreement. The government says Nelson was aware of the maximum and minimum sentences the charges carried and would have no right to withdraw his plea even if his sentence was more than he expected. The only exceptions to waiving his rights of appeal in his plea agreement is if there is a basis for claiming ineffective counsel or prosecutorial misconduct, the motion says. The government says Nelson’s appeal doesn’t include any of those claims.
The federal government motion to dismiss goes on to cite several cases, saying the federal courts have repeatedly said he waived the right to appeal his sentence in a valid plea agreement.
Nelson filed a motion Tuesday to extend, by 15 days, his response to the government’s motion to dismiss. Nelson was given until Sept. 29 to respond to the government’s motion, according to federal court documents.
On Wednesday, the courts granted the motion to extend the time Nelson has to respond to Oct. 14.
Former Foothills Regional Airport Chairman Randy Hullette pleaded guilty Aug. 21, 2013, to embezzlement and witness tampering but has not been sentenced. He filed a response to his federal presentence report, which is required before someone is sentenced in federal court. Because presentence reports have sensitive personal information included in it, the reports are typically sealed. Hullette’s presentence report is sealed.
Hullette faces a total maximum sentence of 30 years.
The charges stem from an FBI investigation of embezzlement from the airport, which is funded by federal, state and local money. Burke and Caldwell counties and the cities of Morganton and Lenoir fund local money to the airport.
The FBI raided the airport in June 2012, seizing files, records, computers, log books and other information. The warrant included records from the airport involving Nelson, Adkins and Hullette defrauding the airport of at least $100,000.
The federal court in Asheville holds sentencing every other month, with the next sentencing set for October, according to court officials.