The Delaware attorney hired to defend former Mount Sterling Administrator Joe Johnson wants off the case.
Scott Culbert filed paperwork in Madison County Common Pleas Court on Thursday, asking to withdraw as Johnson’s defense lawyer. Johnson agreed to the request.
But, Judge Eamon Costello wants to know why. A hearing to determine the reason for Culbert’s action will be scheduled in coming weeks.
Johnson, 46, is accused of stealing at least $600,000 from village coffers during his four years on the job. He was indicted in July on 30 felony counts, including racketeering, theft in office, money laundering, tampering with records and failing to file income taxes. He’s been in Tri-County Regional Jail under $500,000 bond since his July 19 arrest in Jackson County.
If Culbert is allowed to withdraw, Johnson’s next defense attorney will be appointed by Costello at the court’s expense.
That’s because Johnson says he is broke.
According to an affidavit filed by Johnson on Tuesday, the former $60,000-per-year administrator now has no income and only $100 in the bank.
The affidavit also says utilities and other household expenses at Johnson’s Camba Road home near Jackson total $1,315 monthly. His wife and two children, who remain in the house, are collecting food stamps.
Culbert’s request to withdraw came just 17 days before an important deadline in Johnson’s case. Costello previously set Sept. 17 as the last day for the defense to file motions on Johnson’s behalf.
A trial is currently set for Jan. 10, 2017, with a formal pre-trial hearing on Oct. 3.
Culbert did not return a call requesting comment on Thursday.
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Advocate.