USA TODAY US Edition
Sandusky defense tab: $200K so far
Lawyer says defense’s investigations are limited
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Jerry Sandusky’s defense against child sex abuse charges has cost an estimated $200,000 so far, and his lawyer said uncertain financial resources have caused the defense team to forgo psychological testing of the former Penn State University assistant football coach as his trial approaches in June.
Five months after a Pennsylvania grand jury outlined the first charges against Sandusky, attorney Joe Amendola told USA TODAY that financial considerations also limited defense investigations into the backgrounds of Sandusky’s eight known accusers. The remaining two alleged victims have not yet been identified.
“We have not been able to develop full profiles of these people,” the attorney said in an interview just days prior to Monday’s court order which now prohibits prosecutors, defense lawyers and potential witnesses from making public comments about the case.
Amendola said his client has “cashed out” his retirement account and is drawing on an insur- ance policy from the Second Mile, the group he founded to assist at-risk children, to help pay for his defense. The insurance company, Federal Insurance, has gone to federal court to contend that it is not obligated to pay his defense costs, citing allegations of “reprehensible acts” against him.
Pending a resolution of that lawsuit, the firm has paid defense expenses totaling about $125,000, Amendola said. Attorneys for the insurance company did not respond to press inquiries.
Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, declined to comment on the cost of the state investigation.
The overall defense budget is funding the work of Amendola, the assistance of another attorney and two part-time investigators to prepare for the June 5 trial. “This case screams for a team of lawyers and investigators — a team of specialists,” Amendola said.
Legal analysts said the defense costs are substantial, but not necessarily surprising.
“The money goes pretty quickly when you are preparing (pre-trial) motions, developing legal strategy and spending the time to review the evidence collected in this case,” said Aitan Goelman, a former federal prosecutor.
Without funding for such things as background investigations of accusers, the defense may be lacking “really important’’ information for the coach’s upcoming trial. “For a criminal defendant, you want to be able to call (witnesses’) credibility into question,’’ Goelman said.
Christopher Mallios, a former Pennsylvania prosecutor, said Amendola “squandered” an opportunity to learn more about the government’s case when he waived the preliminary hearing in December, where the state is required to offer evidence to support a prosecution.
“If they haven’t been able to do full background investigations, that falls squarely on his shoulders,” Mallios said.