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Wendy Askins Plea Hearing Abruptly Postponed

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Posted at 10:01 PM, Sep 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-14 09:35:41-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A federal court hearing for the woman at the center of the scandal involving the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville has been abruptly canceled.

Wendy Askins was scheduled to plead guilty Monday as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

The filings late Friday in federal court give us very little clue about what happened.

Askins' lawyer, Peter Strianse, filed a motion under seal, suggesting it's something that he and the court felt did not need to be made public. Afterwards, U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger continued the entire case indefinitely without even holding a hearing.

Askins is the former head of the Upper Cumberland Development District who, our investigation discovered, had spent more than a million dollars of agency money on a luxurious house that had become her home.

She was indicted two years ago on a host of federal charges.

Earlier this week, her attorney had just recently filed a motion indicating that she was prepared to change her plea from "not guilty" to "guilty."

According to legal experts, under her plea deal with the government, Askins was almost certainly facing significant time in federal prison.

Whatever happened, the judge not only postponed Monday's change-of-plea hearing, she also postponed Askins' trial date.

The trial had been scheduled to start on September 22.