|Steven Farese Sr.|
Our research indicates this can happen in several ways. One, the defense lawyer will charge a client an outrageous sum and then do relatively little work, putting the accused in danger of being both convicted and financially ruined. Two, the defense lawyer will do little or no discovery that could prove his client's innocence.
We already have touched on this issue in the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. G. Douglas Jones, chief defense lawyer in the early stages of the case, charged Siegelman $300,000 and bailed out before taking the case to trial. One of Jones' primary "accomplishments" in the case was agreeing to extend the statute of limitations for prosecutors who admitted they could not prove their case at that point.
Two ongoing cases in Mississippi provide classic examples of how vulnerable a citizen can be when charged with a crime--especially in the murky world of federal, white-collar statutes that tend to be so poorly worded the accused often has no idea if he's actually committed a crime or not.
One of the Mississippi cases involves Ecru insurance broker Ken Nowlin, who became entangled in the kind of Bush-era political drama that is all too familiar to many Alabamians. The other involves Penni Tingle, a former chief financial officer from Hernando who was accused of embezzling funds from IKBI Inc., a general contracting firm owned by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
Lawyers from the Ashland firm of Farese Farese & Farese served as defense counsel in both cases. Nowlin and Tingle now say in court documents that they were pressured to plead guilty to crimes they did not commit. Both also say the Farese lawyers made little or no effort to seek documents that were available and would have proven their innocence.
In Nowlin's case, a letter from an ethics expert would have shown that Nowlin believed his method for paying county supervisor Gary Massey was proper under the law. The letter, Nowlin states, shows that neither he nor Massey had the state of mind required for convictions on corruption charges. Defense lawyer Anthony L. "Tony" Farese, however, insisted the letter did not exist and made no effort to find it, even though court documents state he had information that pointed to both its existence and whereabouts.
In the Tingle case, defense counsel Steven E. Farese Sr. apparently was too busy sexually harassing his client to seek exculpatory evidence in her case. Tingle, a 42-year-old single mom at the time of her sentencing, recently produced copies of text messages that show Steve Farese Sr. engaged in a vile and persistent campaign of sexual harassment against her.
On his firm bio, Farese Sr. is portrayed as quite the big-time lawyer--and a family man, to boot:
Mr. Farese has lectured extensively throughout the United States to trial lawyers on criminal trial techniques. He has handled numerous "high profile" cases and has been interviewed by Vanity Fair. He has also appeared on Prime Time, Court TV, A&E's City Confidential, People Magazine, Nancy Grace, Larry King Live, Greta Van Sustren, and Good Morning America.
Steve and his wife Suzanne have three children, one of whom is Steve Jr., an attorney who practices law in the Farese Law Office. They have five grandchildren.
Did Greta Van Sustren, Nancy Grace, Larry King, and other big timers from cable TV ever think about what it's like to actually be one of Steve Farese Sr.'s clients? Somehow, we doubt it. But Penni Tingle's text messages reveal Steve Farese Sr. to be a lawyer who was interested in using his client in ways that probably aren't anticipated in Criminal Defense Law 101. Here is just a sampling:
Steve Farese (SF): "I won Best Orgasm Provider for 8 years in a row . . . "
SF: "I think you're hot."
SF: "Do I interest you at all?"
SF: "Would you please come fuck me?"
Now that we know what the Farese law firm seems to be all about, we will take a close look at their actions and inactions that led to Ken Nowlin and Penni Tingle pleading guilty to crimes the record suggests they did not commit.