Costs in Gold Country Lenders case pass $600K |

Costs in Gold Country Lenders case pass $600K

The cost to Nevada County, which is paying indigent defense costs in the Gold Country Lenders prosecution, has now soared past the $600,000 mark — the total the county had estimated the entire multi-year process would cost.

Nevada County CEO Rick Haffey reported Friday that the current total for the Gold Country Lenders trial is approximately $614,000.

And that total likely will increase again, as sentencing was delayed until mid-April for Gold Country Lenders CEO Phil Lester and CFO Susan Laferte, who were found guilty in June 2015 of multiple counts of fraud.

The pair’s court-appointed attorneys, Greg Klein and Mary Beth Acton, still must receive all of the trial transcripts, and then pore through the hundreds of pages in an effort to put together a motion to set aside the verdict.

Back in August, the county still believed the total cost would not exceed its initial projection of $600,000.

The mid-April sentencing date pushes the case well past the three-year mark. Lester and Laferte were arrested in September 2012, and their trial began in April 2015. The case, which was tried by California Deputy Attorneys General Maggy Krell and Randy Mailman, alleged that Lester and Laferte defrauded investors of millions of dollars over a period of eight years.

Each faced one count of using a scheme to defraud, 50 counts of offering securities for sale by means of an untrue statement or omission of a material fact and 10 counts of financial elder abuse.

In June of last year, a jury found Lester guilty on 57 counts and Laferte guilty on 35 counts. The jury also found true special allegations that both defendants defrauded investors of more than $1.3 million, and of aggravated white-collar crime.

Sentencing has been postponed several times, due to delays in producing transcripts; it currently is set for April 15.

A sizeable chunk of those indigent defense costs will be covered by the state, however, after a line item of $393,000 remained in the Governor’s budget for 2015-16, for “sufficient funding for the Nevada County Public Defender’s Office for costs associated with the case of State of California v. Lester et al.”

Nevada County CEO Rick Haffey called the allocation a “real accomplishment,” adding that Supervisor Nate Beason deserves a lot of credit for working diligently to secure that reimbursement.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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