New York City Comptroller John Liu, who is running for...

New York City Comptroller John Liu, who is running for a mayor, speaks to a reporter in New York. (March 19, 2012) Credit: AP

The expected Monday start of a Manhattan federal court trial of two aides to city comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu was postponed on Friday because of a "mental health" issue involving one of the defendants.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan ordered the postponement after a closed-door session with prosecutors and lawyers for former Liu campaign treasurer Jenny Hou and fundraiser Xing Wu "Oliver" Pan.

Pan was not present in court. Sullivan sealed the transcript of the discussion, but said he was adjourning the trial because of mental health issues that had arisen relating to Pan, and ordered the lawyers back to court on Tuesday to revisit the situation. Lawyers for Pan refused afterward to discuss his condition.

Hou and Pan are accused of being part of a scheme to use so-called "straw" donors - people whose names are used on reports but who are reimbursed for donations - to exceed contribution limits and fraudulently obtain matching funds from the city.

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