White-Collar Crime

Accused of extorting indigent clients to increase his fees, former public defender faces trial

A former public defender in Utah is set to go to trial in Panguitch this week on charges that he used his position to extort money and items of value from more than a half-dozen clients.

Onetime Garfield County public defender John E. Hummel is accused of pressuring at least seven clients to give him money or other items of value, such as firearms and electronics, in exchange for the representation that taxpayers were already funding, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. According to court documents, he told clients he would do a better job for them if they anted up.

If he is convicted of all seven felony counts of attempted theft or theft by extortion, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 65 years in prison.

Earlier Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune stories provide additional details.

None of the articles include any comment from Hummel or his defense counsel.

However, he gave KSL a written statement in June 2012 after he was charged.

It said: I wholeheartedly dispute the charges filed against me. Those who know me will know better than to believe these allegations.

“I have much I would like to say about matters in Garfield County. Unfortunately, I am unable to discuss the case until the day of trial. I eagerly look forward to that day.”

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