Ocean Springs Alderman Enters Plea - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

12/10/02

Ocean Springs Alderman Enters Plea

Ocean Springs alderman, Joe Carvin, will be taking his legal troubles to a higher court.

Carvin is accused of stealing seventy five dollars in casino tips when he worked as a dealer at the Palace Casino. He faced a charge of petty larceny in Biloxi municipal court.

The twice delayed case was scheduled for trial Monday.

Carvin never appeared in court, but his attorney did.

Fred Lusk entered a plea of "no contest" on his client's behalf. That plea in city court will enable Carvin to appeal to county court.

It's the latest twist in a case that's seen plenty of them.

Palace Casino employees waited outside the courtroom in anticipation of Joe Carvin's trial. A box of video tapes was ready to be entered as evidence.

Bobby Lyons represented a group of dealers.

"He took money that belonged to us, as dealers. And I'm a representative of the toke committee. And we just want to make sure justice is served," said Lyons.

After the judge rejected yet another request for a continuance, the trial was set to begin at two in the afternoon. But a late morning plea from his attorney changed those plans.

Attorney Fred Lusk entered the "no contest" plea on his client's behalf. The judge ordered a fine of 570 dollars. And that plea can now be appealed to county court.

Despite public pressure, including a lead editorial in the Ocean Springs Record, urging him to resolve the case, Joe Carvin is pressing ahead, but he's not answering any questions.

However, in a written statement, Carvin told WLOX News: "On the advice of my attorney, I'm going to appeal my case to the county court so that I can more fully present my case without the pressures we feel have been politically motivated against me through the municipal court."

Joe Carvin's only previous public comment about the case came during the November 19th board of alderman meeting. After another alderman raised concerns about the ongoing case, Carvin read a prepared statement which said, in part, "I have no intention of taking a leave of absence, stepping aside or resigning as alderman. I have as much right to serve as alderman as any member of this board."

A group of angry Palace Casino dealers didn't appreciate Carvin's latest legal maneuver.

Jenie Gialluca was among them.

"I can't send my kid to college and he can take my money? Merry Christmas Joe," she said.

Lyons was also disappointed, but not surprised Carvin didn't even show up in court.

"I didn't think he'd show up," said Lyons.

Many outside the courtroom were surprised that someone could enter a "no contest" plea and then appeal that plea to another court.

Legal experts tell us that's referred to as the "de novo right of appeal.". It's used fairly frequently in DUI cases.

By Steve Phillips

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