Pitt researcher can access his funds to pay for defense

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A University of Pittsburgh researcher accused of killing his wife will be allowed access to his finances to pay for his defense.

Common Pleas Judge Jeffrey A. Manning of Allegheny County issued a two-page order late Wednesday providing Robert Ferrante access to some $2.2 million in his own assets to pay his attorneys and costs associated with the case against him, as well as to pay child support for his minor daughter.

Mr. Ferrante, 65, is accused of poisoning his wife, Autumn Klein, with cyanide in April. She died April 20 at UPMC Presbyterian, and Mr. Ferrante was charged with criminal homicide in July.

Klein, 41, was a physician at UPMC.

Prosecutors in August obtained a temporary restraining order freezing Mr. Ferrante’s assets so he could not dissipate them. They argued that his daughter may be entitled to restitution if he is convicted and that under a wrongful death action, it could be proven that Klein’s lost wages amounted to $5 million to $6 million.

But in a motion filed last month, Mr. Ferrante’s defense attorneys said the $243,000 left accessible to pay for his criminal defense was not enough.

At a hearing earlier this week, the prosecution suggested Mr. Ferrante be allowed access to his money only if the court reviews his anticipated expenses and approves them.

But Judge Manning said in his order he would not do that.

“The court is certain that defense counsel will act consistent with his ethical obligations as an attorney, and his obligation to this court as an officer of the court, in seeing that the only expenditures from the defendant’s assets are for attorney fees and costs directly associated with the defense to the criminal charges,” the judge wrote.

Judge Manning forbade the dissipation of the defendant’s assets in any other way and said that the funds for his defense must be transferred into his attorney’s escrow account to be used.


Paula Reed Ward: pward@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2620. First Published February 12, 2014 4:48 PM


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