Prosecutors: Accused beard-cutter can afford his own attorney

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The federal government says Amish breakway sect leader Sam Mullet is a "multi-millionaire" with more than $2 million from oil and gas leases on his Ohio farm and should be forced to use that money to pay for a private attorney.

In opposing a motion by Mr. Mullet to be released pending trial on hate crimes charges in connection with beard-cutting attacks on other Amish in Ohio, the U.S. attorney's office in Cleveland says Mr. Mullet has been deceitful about his income from leases and should no longer be allowed the services of Ed Bryan, his federal public defender.

A previous court order required Mr. Mullet to pay a discount rate of $125 an hour for the public defender. Prosecutors said that figure is well below the market rate for a private defense attorney that Mr. Mullet can afford.

Prosecutors also took the unusual step of asking U.S. District Judge Dan Polster to force Mr. Mullet to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the public defender's time at the full market rate since the start of the case. They also asked the judge to order Mr. Bryan to accurately calculate all the time he has spent on the defense and to turn over all his communications to the judge regarding Mr. Mullet's finances.

The Justice Department said Mr. Mullet has manipulated the court system by withholding information about his income from oil and gas leases in order to obtain a subsidized defense.

On March 9, for example, the government said Mr. Mullet's wife, Martha, offered to pay $60,000 in cash to pay off the mortgage on the home of one of her children, a potential government witness. Three days later, the U.S. Probation Department had yet to be told of the new-found money as required by the judge in ordering an appraisal of Mr. Mullet's finances.

And in arguing for his release this week, Mr. Mullet said he has been able to pay off his debts and can now afford a "significant" bond to guarantee his appearance.

Prosecutors said that Judge Polster should deny that request and keep Mr. Mullet behind bars.

"In summary," prosecutors said, "this multi-millionaire defendant has managed to obtain legal representation and the necessary attendant resources from the Federal Public Defender's Office at the less-than market rate of $125 per hour, subsidized by federal tax dollars, by being less than forthcoming about his true financial condition, evading a court-ordered financial investigation by the U.S. Probation Department, and delaying notification of the receipt of substantial funds, after first shrewdly avoiding confirmation that such funds were even anticipated or that any leases had been executed."

breaking - region

Torsten Ove: tove@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1510. First Published April 27, 2012 2:15 PM


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