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Con suspect asks for standby lawyer

PROVO — A 4th District judge will take a week to decide whether a Draper man can represent himself against charges that he used a Ponzi scheme to defraud Utahns of millions of dollars.

Calvin Paul Stewart, 54, reiterated his desire to serve as his own legal counsel but also have Judge Anthony Schofield allow him to use the Utah County Public Defenders Office as standby. Stewart has claimed indigence and been appointed public defenders in both Utah and Salt Lake counties.

Stewart told the judge that Article I, Section 12, of the U.S. Constitution gives defendants the right to appear in person and have counsel. Prosecutor Dave Wayment and Tom Means, the executive director of the Utah County Public Defenders Association, believe Stewart should be allowed to represent himself or have a court-appointed public defender, but not both.

Schofield said he wanted time to consider a brief filed late Monday by Means and to read a case that Stewart and Means each say favors their side. Schofield scheduled a hearing for March 18.

The public defender who represented Stewart in Tuesday's hearing, Christine Johnson, said an arrangement that allows Stewart to represent himself and have standby counsel wouldn't be covered by the public defenders office's contract with the county, which funds the office.

Stewart faces 17 second- and third-degree felony counts of securities fraud, sale of unregistered securities and acting as an unlicensed securities agent.He also faces charges of securities fraud and racketeering in two cases pending against him in Salt Lake County.

According to documents filed in 3rd and 4th district courts, Stewart is accused of selling investments to property owners between August 1999 and December 2001. As part of the alleged scheme, Stewart asked people to either sell their property or refinance.

The documents allege Stewart promised investors that the equity would be kept in an escrow account. Stewart and other defendants allegedly used the money to buy other property, creating a Ponzi scheme and entangling investors' money in numerous land deals.

Stewart said if he is not allowed to use his public defender as stand-by counsel, he will represent himself.


Contributing: Geoffrey Fattah

E-mail: twalch@desnews.com