The public will foot the bill to defend former House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi against charges that he illegally used his position to benefit himself and his friends, after he convinced a federal judge that he cannot afford to pay for his own attorney.
US District Court Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf ruled that Thomas Kiley and William Cintolo, who have represented DiMasi without being paid for almost two years, are eligible to earn $125 an hour, likely a fraction of their usual rate, but the standard for court-appointed lawyers in federal court.
Kiley, who can bill the government for future work but not overdue bills, would not say today why he waited so long to file the motion for a court appointment.
"I'm not going to talk about payments," said Kiley, who has been representing DiMasi in various state and federal probes since 2008. Kiley has said that he has received no payments since DiMasi was indicted on federal corruption charges in June 2009.
DiMasi's request for a public defender is not unprecedented in Massachusetts public corruption trials. Former state senator Dianne Wilkerson persuaded a clerk-magistrate that she needed public aid to pay her attorney Max Stern to defend her against charges that she took $23,500 in bribes.
Wilkerson was convicted in January and this month began serving her 3 1/2-year sentence at a federal prison in Connecticut.
DiMasi's longtime attorney Kiley was required to file a financial affidavit showing that DiMasi, who resigned in January 2009, doesn't have the money to afford representation. That affidavit today remained under seal and unavailable to the public.
Wolf agreed to appoint Kiley and Cintolo even though they are not on the list of court-appointed lawyers. He also agreed to waive the maximum amount court-appointed defenders can collect from a single case -- $9,700 -- because the case is "extended and complex."
The excess amount must be approved by a judge of the federal appeals court.
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