ATHENS -- It could be nearly a year before the federal case against the founders of the nonprofit Angel Food Ministries goes to trial.
U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal said the complexity of the case, laid out in a 49-count indictment, would require time for all sides to review the massive amount of documents and emails, file motions and have those ruled on.
At its peak, Angel Food Ministries helped feed thousands of people across the nation. The wide range of charges in the case include money laundering.
Lawyers for the defendants -- Angel Food founders Wesley Joseph and Linda Wingo, their son Andrew and former ministry employee Harry Michaels -- said they had not had a chance to review all the documents amassed by prosecutors during their investigation, which stretched over several years. Joe Wingo represented himself but again requested a public defender.
He said during a status hearing Wednesday in Athens that he had neither the funds to hire a private attorney nor the legal skills to adequately represent himself.
Andrew Wingo arrived in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. In documents filed in the case, the court accused him of violating conditions of his pretrial release by possessing firearms. Wingo's defense had argued that the court's conclusions were in error. According to a Jan. 31 order denying a motion for reconsideration by U.S. District Judge Charles H. Weigle, a supervising officer "observed at defendant's residence, such as the presence of other weapons and ammunition strewn about the house, and the presence of thousands of rounds of ammunition in the garage where the Ruger Mini-14 assault rifle was stored."
Royal also considered an emergency motion for adequate medical care for Wingo, who suffers from a medical condition that required a shunt to be implanted in his skull, according to court documents. The motion cited a physician who said Wingo has suffered from "excruciating headaches for years" as a result of the condition.
The judge said he wanted to make sure Wingo received medical care but cautioned there was no indication the care he was receiving was inadequate.
Angel Food Ministries, which began on the back porch of Joe and Linda Wingo's home, closed in September.
The indictment alleges, among other things, that the Wingos used Angel Food funds to make a $280,000 down payment on a Beechjet 400A aircraft and to buy a $65,000 classic car. They also used more than $1.48 million in funds from the nonprofit to give bonuses to themselves and others, federal prosecutors say.
Other details offered in the indictment include a two-day spree in February 2006 when Joe Wingo dropped more than $5,000 at Bailey Banks & Biddle and Spa Sydell. Two months later, he spent more than $5,400 on jewelry at Macy’s.
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