Former Utah public defender sentenced to jail in theft case
A former Garfield County public defender will spend 90 days in jail after a jury convicted him on felony charges of theft and attempted theft by extortion for demanding money, firearms and other forms of payment from indigent clients he was already being paid by taxpayers to defend.
A 6th District Court jury found John E. Hummel, 54, guilty of five felony counts during his February trial.
On Friday, Judge James Taylor ordered Hummel to prison for each of the felonies, but suspended the sentence in favor of 36 months probation and 90 days in the Garfield County jail.
If he does not complete probation, Hummel could face up to 55 years in prison. Hummel also was ordered to pay restitution to the victims, an amount that will be determined at a later date by Adult Probation and Parole.
Prosecutors said that in 2008 and 2009, Hummel used his power and influence to extract payments from at least seven clients. In court papers, prosecutors said Hummel's victims claimed to be "naive to the system and how it works" and never would have agreed to the defense attorney's demands if they had known their rights.
Among the items Hummel received as payment for legal services were seven firearms, two 32-inch flat-screen televisions, two computers, an iPod, digital camera, video camera, Play Station 3, DVD player and more than $11,000 cash, court documents state.