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Spring trial possible for Hampton

WASHINGTON — Attorneys are eyeing May or June trial dates for Doug Hampton, the former aide to ex-Sen. John Ensign accused of illegally lobbying the U.S. Senate.

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell on Friday granted another three months continuance in the case. Hampton’s attorney, Federal Public Defender A.J. Kramer, said the defense was still examining documents compiled by the Senate Ethics Committee during a lengthy investigation of the former Nevada Republican senator.

In a conference in Howell’s courtroom, Kramer said attorneys “hopefully” should be ready in January to set a schedule for pretrial motions leading to a trial possibly in May or June.

Hampton, who was given an attorney after being declared indigent, participated by telephone from his home in California. The next court hearing was set Jan. 13.

The former Las Vegas resident was indicted on March 24 on charges of violating a federal conflict-of-interest law that forbids senior Senate staffers from lobbying the Senate for a year after they leave Capitol Hill.

Hampton was Ensign’s administrative assistant and a close friend until he discovered his wife and Ensign were having an affair. Ensign arranged for Hampton to obtain lobbying contacts as a way to cushion the aide’s departure from his staff.

Ensign resigned from the Senate in May in advance of a Senate Ethics Committee report that found evidence the Nevadan “violated laws,” possibly including conspiracy, obstruction of justice and making false statements, in attempting to cover up the affair.

The Senate’s voluminous documentation was forwarded to the U.S. Justice Department, which has shared it with Hampton’s attorneys. Ensign has not been charged.

Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760.

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