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3 indicted men, including a former Omaha police officer and Omaha city councilman, in court Wednesday

Posted at 7:41 PM, Apr 26, 2023

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — On Wednesday, Omaha City Councilmember Vinny Palermo, former Omaha Police Captain Richard Gonzalez and fundraiser Jack Olson were in court to learn if they will stay in jail before a possible trial on federal charges.

After a long day at the federal courthouse in Lincoln, there was no decision on whether any of the three involved in this case will be released.

A decision on a fourth defendant, Johnny Palermo, was made Monday and he was not released. There is no bail in the federal system.

The judge said final arguments from all sides should be submitted in writing by the end of the day Thursday, and she expects to make decisions Friday.

First, the judge allowed Councilman Palermo’s alleged probation violation from his prior conviction to be combined with the detention hearing, without objection.

The detention hearing then resumed where they left off Monday, with an FBI agent on the stand. The agent said she had been investigating the case since August.

From roughly 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., minus a total of 2 hours and 45 minutes of recess, witnesses were questioned by the attorneys for the remaining three defendants.

The first three hours of the hearing focused on Gonzalez. He's facing a total of 13 charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit honest services fraud.

His lawyer, Steve Leffler, laid out a plan for the Gonzalez family to provide 24/7 supervision if he's released as well as agreeing to recording devices in his home, GPS monitoring and turning in his passport.

“I think most Omahans thought that these people are guilty, they’re terrible, they’re dirty, they’re this. Well if they listen to a day and a half of testimony they might say ‘Oh wait a minute, that’s … the government might be stretching on this,’” said Leffler.

After a break, the court turned to Olson and Vinny Palermo. Olson is facing four charges and Vinny Palermo is facing nine.

The attorney of Councilman Vinny Palermo told 3 News Now after court he believed he was able to differentiate his charges from the others.

“His alleged crimes are paper crimes and they had to do with filing applications, not filing on disclosures, long filings. They don’t have to do with rapes and they don’t have to do with police coverups of drunk drivings. They don’t have to do with any of that,” said Randy Paragas, attorney for Vinny Palermo.

Now, as far as Vinny Palermo’s city council seat, The Douglas County Election Commission confirms a recall petition form has been filed to remove Vinny Palermo from his position on the city council. Any registered voter can fill out the form.

Once it's submitted, the election commission has five days to notify the elected official.

After that, the official has 20 days to submit a defense. Then the election commission prepares petition pages, which a circulator has to pick up and gather the required number of signatures.

If there are enough, the official has the option to resign before it goes to an election.

RELATED | Federal indictments and arrest of Councilman Vinny Palermo, 3 others including former police officers

3 indicted men, including a former police officer and city councilman, in court Wednesday

KMTV 3 News Now only publishes mugshots in certain situations. It’s part of our commitment to being fair and minimizing harm in our reporting. In this case, we are using mugshots because the suspects are high-profile people who have held positions of trust in the community and because the charges are serious. To read more about our mugshot policy, click here.

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