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New wheat theft trial moves to May


By MATTHEW WEAVER



Capital Press



The trial of an Endicott, Wash., man accused of stealing truckloads of wheat from an area grain elevator has been rescheduled while the county sheriff probes a case of alleged embezzlement involving the same company.



James William Hughes, 54, of Endicott, Wash., faces 21 counts of theft in Whitman County Superior Court in Colfax, Wash. Hughes is accused of stealing more than $100,000 worth of wheat from a Whitgro grain elevator.



Hughes' trial ended in a hung jury in July 2012. His new trial, originally slated for January, has been rescheduled for May 6.



Meanwhile, the Whitman County Sheriff's Office is investigating alleged embezzlement at Whitgro, said Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy. He said the sheriff's office is close to completing that investigation.



Tracy said the later trial date for Hughes will give the defense and the prosecution the opportunity to determine if any alleged embezzlement has an impact on his case.



"It's quite unusual to have a case involving a victim of theft, and then while that case is pending, to turn up another suspect who is suspected of having victimized the same victim," Tracy said.



Tracy said he will review the full investigation of the new case before he decides whether or how it impacts the charges against Hughes.



Tracy hopes to have the embezzlement investigation completed by the end of January.



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