Telly Hankton

Telly Hankton, who is serving a life sentence in a state murder case, is charged with federal crimes that could carry the death penalty. His attorney is seeking the testimony of reporters formerly of | The Times-Picayune in an effort to show federal agents leaked secret information about the case. (File photo)

Two reporters and the FBI agents they met with in 2012 must testify at an upcoming hearing in the case of Telly Hankton, a convicted killer and reputed crime boss now charged alongside a dozen others with federal crimes. A judge on Wednesday rejected arguments by | The Times-Picayune and the Justice Department trying to block the subpoenas.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman said defense attorneys for Hankton and his co-defendants made credible claims that grand jury secrecy rules were violated and that the testimony is necessary to get to the bottom of the argument. The defense wants to use it to get the sweeping indictment tossed on grounds that the process was tainted by leaks.

Feldman, however, limited the scope of the testimony. Questioning must relate to the one meeting between the reporters and agents and the article that followed, accurately predicting the indictment of Hankton and others in a racketeering case focused on what the feds call retaliatory killings and a drug conspiracy.

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