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Former Vann’s CEO loses federal court appeal

Posted at 2:02 PM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 18:14:07-05

Dennis Bragg
4:49 pm
November 15, 2018

SAN FRANCISCO – A federal appeals court has rejected an attempt by the former CEO of a Missoula-based retailer to overturn his fraud case.

But the justices are also expressing concerns about the way prosecutors may have used “leading questions” against a key witness during George Manlove’s criminal trial.

Manlove was convicted last year on 170 counts after the trial in US District Court in Missoula. He was implicated on charges of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars through fraud, money laundering and other crimes while he was the CEO of the Missoula-based retailer. The company would eventually file for bankruptcy.

Manlove’s attorneys took the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing prosecutors were allowed to use “calculated, sustained and improper use of leading questions” during the trial, especially with co-defendant Paul Nisbet on the stand.

But this week the Appeals Court justices dismissed Manlove’s claims. The judges said while they had some reservations about the way prosecutors had handled questioning, Manlove’s attorneys hadn’t taken the opportunity to object during Nisbet’s direct examination.

Manlove has been serving a five-year sentence that started over a year ago.