STAMFORD -- A Stamford judge has decided that former White House counsel John Michael Farren, who is accused of trying to kill his wife in their multimillion-dollar New Canaan mansion about four years ago, has no right to a public defender.
State Superior Court Judge Richard Comerford denied Farren's appeal of a decision by the Stamford court's lead public defender, Barry Butler, who refused legal services to Farren last year because his income exceeded guidelines set by the state.
Farren, 60, who is defending himself against charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and risk of injury to a child, faces a maximum 70-year prison sentence. He appealed Butler's decision last April, saying that his assets had been frozen by his wife and he was taking in less $1,000 per year.
It is not clear whether an appeal is planned.
According to state guidelines, anyone charged with a felony and with no dependents, like Farren, with an annual gross income of over $22,980 per year is not eligible for a public defende.
A certified public accountant, hired by the state for $10,000, dug into the former Xerox executive's finances and found that he was receiving an annual income of $68,425, according to a report contained in Farren's court file.
Comerford said that during two days of hearings into the matter in late January, Farren testified that he would receive $500,000 for the sale of his Wahackme Road home.
In December, a civil jury awarded Mary Margaret Farren $28.6 million in damages for her near-fatal beating at their home on Jan. 6, 2010, just two days after she served her husband with divorce papers.
At first Farren, who worked for former President George W. Bush as a deputy White House counsel and before that as lead attorney for the Xerox, tried to win over his wife on the divorce. But prosecutors said he became angrier by the evening of Jan. 6.
Mary Farren, 47, who had given birth to their second daughter four months earlier, testified in the civil trial she agreed to hold off on the divorce if the two would go to counseling, but refused to stop the divorce action.
Mary Farren said her husband grabbed her by the throat and tackled her before banging her head against the hardwood floor. She said he then began beating her with his fists, before grabbing her and throwing her across the room. He then grabbed a heavy flashlight from his night stand and began beating her with it, she testified.
After drifting back into consciousness, she hustled her two children into a car and fled to the first home she could see with lights on.
She was found lying in a pool of blood just inside the front door of a home on nearby Weed Street, a paramedic said during the trial.
In court Thursday, Comerford said the accountant also unearthed four accounts belonging to Farren that did not appear to have been frozen and that were worth more than $683,000. Comerford said that without providing evidence showing those accounts were attached pursuant to his divorce, Farren had not proved that the funds were not available to him. Read Full Article
The accountant also found that Farren was receiving $37,000 per year from a Xerox retirement plan, according to court documents.
"The defendant has shown a pattern of borrowing funds from family with no indication that he would be unable to do so in the future," the judge said.
Comerford also said that Farren, without explanation, paid debts with a lump sum he received from his Xerox retirement and chose not to apply the funds to his defense.
According to a transcript from the January hearing, Deborah Del Prete Sullivan, legal counsel for the chief public defender, told Comerford that in January 2013 -- just three months before applying for a public defender -- Farren received $100,000 from the Xerox account.
Sullivan said Farren admitted to using that money to pay a debt to his brother.