FRESNO — An expected plea deal on seven federal fraud charges involving the former owner of a Modesto real estate firm was delayed Monday. James Lee Lankford, 74, needs time to recover from surgery, his attorney said, before his client formally agrees to a deal that would bring at least eight years in federal prison.
Although the plea bargain was signed in late August, a judge must agree to it in open court.
Lankfords scheme duped elderly homeowners from Modesto and Hughson and lenders over an 11-year period, costing them more than $7 million, authorities say.
His lawyer asked for a six-week delay; prosecutors objected and Judge Anthony Ishii ordered Lankfords attorney to produce a doctors written excuse if Lankford cant make it by Monday.
Lankfords husband, Jon Vance McDade, also agreed to plead guilty to one count of bank fraud in exchange for one day in prison and is expected to consummate his deal Monday.