Former public defender ordered to stand trial in extortion case
PANGUITCH, Garfield County — A former public defender for Garfield County has been ordered to stand trial himself.
John Hummel, 54, is accused of swindling clients out of money and property. He was ordered to stand trial for three counts of theft by extortion, a second-degree felony; two counts of attempted theft by deception and two counts of theft by extortion, third-degree felonies. An additional, class B misdemeanor count of attempted theft by extortion was dismissed by 6th District Judge James Taylor.
As a legal defender for Garfield County, Hummel was paid by the county to represent individuals who couldn't afford a private attorney. But the man is accused of going to several people he was appointed to represent and asking them to pay him directly, according to charges filed against him. Hummel allegedly told his clients that he could do a better job and get them a better deal in court if they gave him money and property.
Some gave Hummel guns, electronics and archery equipment in addition to, or instead of, money, according to prosecutors.
Hummel worked for the county until 2009. No future court dates were set, but defense attorneys for the man indicated they planned to file motions soon.
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