RICHMOND (WWBT)- There were wins and losses for both sides Thursday morning in Richmond Circuit Court.
Judge Margret P. Spencer ruled that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his office did have a conflict of interest in the embezzlement case of Todd Schneider the former Executive Chef at the Virginia's Governor's Mansion.
The conflict was enough for Spencer to agree to remove the Attorney's General's office from the case.
At the same time as officially pulling Cuccinelli off the case, Spencer also decided to defer Schneider and his attorney Steve Benjamin's motion to outright dismiss the case based on the fact that Cuccinelli had waited so long to ask to be recused.
Spencer told Benjamin that the new prosecutor, who she hand picked, Norfolk Commonwealth's Attorney Greg Underwood would handle the motion for dismissal at another pre-trial hearing set for May 14th.
The Attorney General's office had asked that the case be handled by Prince William County Commonwealth's Attorney Paul B. Ebert.
It became clear quickly in the oral arguments that Benjamin was prepared to make the politics of the Attorney General's office, the race for Governor and the McDonnell Administration a major part of the case. He outlined in great specificity the connections between McDonnell, a witness in the case Mary Shae Sutherland and Cuccinelli's campaign for Governor.
Sutherland was once the Chief of Staff to First Lady Maureen McDonnell and now works for a consulting firm that has raised money on behalf of Cuccinelli's gubernatorial bid.
Benjamin argued that Cuccinelli's office knew of this conflict more than a year before an indictment was handed down and should've asked to be recused before Schneider was formally charged.
Benjamin also launched into a lengthy explanation of the politics of this case as a conflict and brought up the name Jonnie Williams, the CEO of Star Scientific. The man who paid Schenider to cater McDonnnel's daughter's wedding and who has been a financial backer of both McDonnell and Cuccinelli.
Before he could get to far into making his political connections to the case, Patrick Dorgan, the senior Assitant Attorney General objected and which Spencer sustained before quickly made her ruling.
This latest development sets up yet another showdown in court between Schenider and prosecutors before the actual trial takes place. It is still scheduled for the summer and Spencer told Benjamin her goal was to stay on that course.
The arguments on the motion for dimissal will be heard May 14th at 1pm.
Leaving the courtroom, both attorneys and Schneider chose not to comment. Both sides have been put under a gag order in the case by the Judge.