Back’s trial continued, again

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PIKEVILLE - The federal court judge granted Howard Harlow Back's request for yet another continuance.

Back, 75 of Salyersville, is facing a federal grand jury charge for allegedly conspiring with others to knowingly and intentionally distribute a quantity of pills containing oxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance, from December 2009 and continuing to February 2012.

The superseding indictment released in early May lists properties used to commit and facilitate the federal controlled substance violation, as well as property derived from proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the commission of the alleged violation.

While additional discovery and potential co-defendants were mentioned in the indictment, Stephen Owens, Back's attorney, argued in the motion, entered last month, that none of these defendants have appeared before the Court. With less than two weeks to prepare for the scheduled August 6 jury trial, Owens said additional time is needed to prepare a defense or decide whether to enter a plea.

With no objections from the United States Attorney's office, United States Magistrate Judge Edward B. Atkins ruled on July 31 that the trial be continued to Tuesday, September 4 at 1 p.m.

Judge Atkins wrote in his order, "The Court finds that the ends of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the best interests of the public and the defendant a speedy trial, as failure to grant a continuance would deny the defendant the reasonable time necessary for effective preparation, taking into account the exercise of due diligence."

With the charge, Back faces the possibility of 20 years imprisonment, a $1,000,000 fine and at least three years supervised release.