Not so fast: indicted hospital owner fires lawyer after guilty plea is negotiated
Dr. Tariq Mahmood, the indicted Texas hospital-chain owner, has fired his veteran Houston attorney days after he cut a deal with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to a fraud conspiracy.Now Mahmood says he wants a jury trial.
Mahmood, citing a dispute with lead counsel Dan Cogdell over the deal, moved swiftly today to replace him with Los Angeles lawyer Mike Khouri, who has made a 33-year career representing defendants accused of health-care fraud, patient rape and organized crime.
Mahmood is now seeking to upend a plea deal at the 11th hour by firing attorney Dan Cogdell and replacing him with a Los Angeles lawyer.
The latest twist comes less than 24 hours after the U.S. attorney’s office in Tyler filed a pleading saying a deal had been reached on the conspiracy charge – one of 15 fraud counts against Mahmood. A conspiracy conviction carries up to 10 years in prison.
Khouri could not be reached for comment. But he filed a motion on behalf of Mahmood this afternoon. It argues that Mahmood has a constitutional right to the counsel of choice.
The motion didn’t disclose specifics about Mahmood’s dispute with Cogdell.
“Apparently, at one point in time, it was represented to the court that Dr. Mahmood was willing to enter a plea agreement,” the filing states. “It appears that Dr. Mahmood has changed his mind or was never really convinced in the first place. Whatever the case, it really makes no difference as Dr. Mahmood wishes to exercise his right to a jury trial.”
To prepare for a trial, Khouri is seeking to postpone the May 19 trial date for 90 days. The attorney also asked the judge to consider that he has already planned a vacation to celebrate his 30th wedding anniversary in mid May.
Neither U.S. Attorney John Bales or Cogdell is opposed to this latest motion, Khouri wrote.
UPDATE: 6:13 p.m. The judge just filed an order saying he will consider Khouri’s arguments during a 2 p.m. Monday hearing originally set to review the plea deal. But he added that the matter remains on the court docket for jury selection on May 16, and for trial testimony on May 19 “until further order of the court.”