Golovan to lose lawyer
Campaign figure accused of forgery, theft won't get public defender, after all
A Multnomah County Circuit judge has stripped Volodymyr Golovan, a Ukrainian activist accused of forgery and theft from the city of Portland, of his court-appointed attorney following an unusual hearing that featured testimony about his finances, marriage and sperm count.
The removal of his attorney could save tens of thousands of dollars for the state but alter the course of the case for Golovan.
The state is prosecuting him for his role in supplying signatures to obtain public campaign financing for last year's City Council candidates Emilie Boyles and Lucinda Tate.
Golovan was indicted for allegedly committing theft by forging signatures to obtain public financing. Tate did not qualify, but Boyles received $145,000, which the city is demanding be repaid on the basis of what it found to be spending violations.
The new courtroom landscape for Golovan, legal observers said, could add to the pressure on him to negotiate a plea agreement, cause him to represent himself in court, or lead to a delay in the trial caused by his search for a new attorney.
The current trial date of May 21 seems 'extremely unlikely,' said professor Art LaFrance of Lewis and Clark Law School.
Golovan was arrested Dec. 13 after a lengthy investigation by the Portland Police Bureau and the Oregon Department of Justice. The indictment followed an investigation by The Oregonian that suggested signatures had been forged.
Application left out houses
The Feb. 7 hearing before Judge Julie Frantz was one of several since Golovan's Dec. 14 arraignment that examined whether he financially qualified for a court-appointed attorney.
On Dec. 28, first-year Judge Judith Matarazzo found that Golovan appeared ineligible for an attorney, but then awarded him one anyway, saying she wanted to get the case moving.
Last month, however, his court-appointed lawyer, Greg Silver, requested a hearing to settle whether the lawyer's employer, Metro Public Defenders, would be reimbursed for its representation of Golovan.
Among other things, the Feb. 7 hearing reviewed an affidavit filed by Golovan when he applied for a court-appointed attorney. The affidavit did not include his wife's income, nor did it note the couple's ownership of two homes on adjoining lots in Southeast Portland.
Golovan said he did not include his wife's income in his application because he thought they were separated at the time of his arrest.
Before getting married he had little money, he said. 'I didn't have a car, I just had a bag of clothes. I had just a minimum amount of money at that point.'
Since his indictment, he has filed a notice of separation as well as a petition for dissolution of their marriage, and signed a legal document conveying his property interest to his wife in exchange for not having to pay child support. Golovan said their baby is due in June.
'Even before the arrest, but since the arrest things exploded in our relationship and we're just now talking of divorcing,' he said. 'I filled out the affidavits to the best of my understanding and the best of my recollection.'
He signed over the properties, he said, because the trial could lead to his deportation, and he wanted to make sure his son was provided for - especially since he probably never would have another child, due to his low sperm count and what he said was a lack of infertility treatment available in the Ukraine.
'I've been under therapy for infertility for a number of years, and I've got the proof right here,' Golovan testified. 'Here are some notes of my sperm count. … I apologize for getting so personal.'
The agreement with his wife seemed like a 'very good deal now because I think my wife is agreeing not to fight,' he said, adding that 'that's why I decided to move fast, before she changes her mind.'
Golovan even produced an ultrasound image of the baby.
One observer was Amber Lewis, the Portland Police Bureau fraud sergeant whose unit conducted an investigation in partnership with the Justice Department.
Lewis declined to discuss the case or the investigation. As for the hearing, she said, 'I can't say I've ever heard such a thing.'
'Speak to your wife'
The investigation of Golovan's finances was conducted by the verification unit of the state's Public Defense Services Commission, which oversees legal services for those who can't afford them.
It found that Golovan had several accounts at Washington Mutual bank. Golovan said they were actually the property of nonprofits whose boards he sits on, including the Russian and Ukrainian Chambers of Commerce.
The accounts, however, were in Golovan's name, including one that had averaged a balance of $25,000 in the previous six months.
The investigation also found that Golovan had undervalued his home by some $60,000 in his initial affidavit. Golovan said he had given the purchase price, rather than its assessed value of $238,000.
The couple's second home, a 2,200-square-foot structure, has just been completed and has not yet been appraised by the county assessor's offices. But a review of similar-sized homes in the neighborhood suggests a value between $400,000 and $500,000.
Because of the mortgages on the homes, Golovan's share of the couple's equity was only $49,500.
The court provided a translator for Golovan, but he did not appear to have a problem communicating. When he was appointed to Mayor Tom Potter's 'visioning' committee last year, a news release described Golovan as speaking five languages and having a Ph.D. in language education and translation. He served as a translator for the city committee.
In making her ruling, Judge Frantz noted that all the arrangements Golovan made in what he said was his divorce occurred subsequent to his indictment and application for court-appointed counsel.
'Mr. Golovan, you need to speak to your wife' about changing their agreement, Frantz said, adding that he had other options besides signing away his assets.
'If you are choosing to use those to the benefit of your unborn child, then that is your choice,' Frantz said. 'But it does not then allow you to come to this court and ask for the taxpayers of this state … to pay for your attorney.'