COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Muscogee County Superior Court Judge has given prosecutors the green light to present potentially damaging evidence in the case of Michael and Phyllis Bleckley.
The Richland couple is charged in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme involving local victims.
In a motions hearing Thursday afternoon, Judge Gil McBride ruled they will be tried together and another one of their alleged schemes will be presented to the jury.
The Bleckleys are accused of scamming investors out of more than $3 million by telling victims their money was going to German bonds when according to the state, they were really using it for themselves.
Prosecutors say the Bleckleys pulled a similar scam at their funeral home in Marion County, allegedly getting victims to buy burial services in advance and putting the money in their own exclusive accounts.
The state says this shows the couple's intention and course of conduct, alleging the couple worked together on the faulty business dealings.
The Bleckley's attorneys, John and Frank Martin, say the "similar transaction" case out of Marion County should not be allowed in their Columbus trial because they are two totally different crimes- theft by conversion and theft by taking- and that it would be prejudicial and confuse jurors.
Judge McBride disagreed and will allow the state to include their findings in Marion County.
The defense was also concerned about prejudice because according to the Martins, Mrs. Bleckley signed the checks and they don't want evidence against her to lead to prejudice against her husband. Prosecutors contend they aided and embedded each other.
In court it was revealed that there are seven investors involved in the pending case in Muscogee County, including the owners of Mikata Japanese Steakhouse off Airport Thruway.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Alonza Whitaker says they told victims they were buying bonds that would mature in three years but says the Bleckleys were not investing that money, at least not for the victims' sakes. Whitaker says they also manufactured documents to make it appear that they were doing the right thing with victims' money.
Judge McBride granted a continuance for the couple's trial so that certain filed court documents can be thoroughly reviewed by all sides. It was scheduled to start June 21st at the Government Center. It is now set for September 7th.