Can Public Defender's clients afford to pay or not?

NORWICH – Chenango County Public Defender Alan Gordon was directed to use the county’s social services fraud department to determine whether clients can or cannot pay for assigned counsel.

“There are people who don’t expose their assets and we know that, but we can’t investigate our own clients,” Gordon told county supervisors serving on the Safety and Rules Committee last week.

Gordon was acting on a referral from the committee to investigate applicants for their ability to pay for their own attorney, and thereby save the county money for indigent defense. State aid for assigned council services in the county has been slashed by more than half, from $154,800 in 2009 to $60,000 this year. The levy will be tapped for nearly $500,000 for public defender services this year.

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