“In the Sierra foothills, where Gold Rush history still sparkles, Nevada County taxpayers fear their small, rural region is being drained of critical funding to help two residents fight state fraud charges,” the San Francisco Chronicle is reporting.
“Now county officials are turning to lawmakers for help because the law isn’t on their side.
“Two years ago, the state attorney general charged four people associated with a Grass Valley real estate company of cheating investors of $2.3 million and committing other crimes. Claiming they were broke, Philip Lester, 66, and his sister Susan Laferte, 60, were each provided with public defenders.
“Nevada County estimates that defending the pair will cost $600,000 – money that otherwise could be spent on law enforcement or restoring public employee positions cut during the recession, said Ryan Gruver, management analyst with the county’s executive office. The county has already spent $200,000, a cost updated regularly on the county’s website. The trial is scheduled for October.
“‘When you have a small county like Nevada County going against the state attorney general, it’s a significant impact,’ Gruver said. ‘Our feeling is there is a David-and-Goliath situation where Nevada County is being asked to put its resources against the state of California and the attorney general’s office. … County taxpayers are paying for this.’
“A 50-year-old legal tenet established by the U.S. Supreme Court guarantees a person’s right to an attorney in state criminal cases if they can’t pay for one themselves.
The rest of the article is here.