Spokane developer Greg Jeffreys, who once claimed to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars and bragged that his typical workday included being flown in a Learjet to three cities, will have taxpayers foot his legal bill fighting a 73-count federal fraud indictment. A federal magistrate declared Jeffreys, 53, eligible for a public defender on Friday. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno then appointed Mark Vovos, who had been Jeffreys’ private attorney, to continue representing him at the lower federal defender rate of $125 per hour rather than his standard legal fees.
Imbrogno ruled that Jeffreys “clearly qualifies for appointed counsel,” noting paperwork submitted by Vovos’ earlier showing Jeffreys’ debts outstrip his property and income.
Imbrogno wrote that Vovos is needed to avoid a conflict: A federal public defender already represents Jeffreys’ co-defendant and mistress, 51-year-old Shannon Stiltner. Jeffreys wife, 53-year-old Kimberly Jeffreys, is represented by Seattle attorney Allen Bentley.
A grand jury indicted Jeffreys in January on dozens of counts of bank fraud and money laundering stemming from a series of transactions in what government prosecutors have described as a Ponzi scheme. He remains held without bond in the Spokane County Jail.
Jeffreys is also deeply involved in the Ridpath Hotel debacle – a web of legal and financial problems that has kept the high-profile downtown hotel empty. None of the charges against him are related to his dealings involving the Ridpath.
Vovos said it’s not certain he will represent Jeffreys.
He told Imbrogno he has another trial in Richland scheduled for April, which is when Jeffreys’ trial is to begin.
“I can’t just drop what I’m doing. I don’t know how that is going to impact it,” he said. “With 400,000 pages of discovery (in the Jeffreys case) … there is no way anybody could be ready in a trial of that magnitude.”
Vovos noted his pay representing Jeffreys will be less than half of his standard rate. Since Jeffreys’ assets are subject to federal forfeiture , Vovos said he’s not aware of any attorney who would take the case – even if Jeffreys had money to pay.
“I’ll do the best I can,” he said, “but this is a terribly complex, multifaceted case that’s going to take a lot of time.”