Fraudster’s Lawyer Asks Out, Says Client ‘Lacks Confidence’

Jun 21 2010 | 12:02pm ET

Just two weeks before he is to be sentenced for defrauding investors in his hedge fund of $140 million, James Nicholson may be cooking up a new—legal—scheme. But his apparently lawyer wants no part of it.

Erika Edwards, who was appointed to represent the confessed Westgate Capital Management Ponzi schemer last year, has asked to be removed from the case. She told U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan that Nicholson, who pleaded guilty in December, has “a lack of confidence in my abilities as an attorney.”

Nicholson has reportedly made derogatory comments about Edwards’ performance—especially in her failed effort to see the amount of Nicholson’s fraud cut from $140 million to $40 million last month. Edwards told Sullivan that Nicholson has been in touch with a private investigator as part of his plan to appeal his conviction claiming ineffective counsel.

Nicholson is opposing his lawyer’s request.

At the very least, the last-minute drama will postpone Nicholson’s sentencing, which had been scheduled for June 30. Sullivan said he’d hold another hearing on Edwards’ request on Wednesday, and would then set a new sentencing date.

The judge also appointed another lawyer to try to negotiate a waiver—which would block an appeal of his conviction—with Nicholson. The fraudster faces up to 45 years in prison when sentenced.


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