Indicted resort suitor's lawyer wants off case

BOISE, Idaho -- The lawyer for a would-be Tamarack Resort buyer under federal indictment wants off the fraud case, citing deep communication problems over legal strategy and a potential conflict of interest.

Eagle-based lawyer Dennis Charney filed paperwork late Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise, asking a judge to relieve him of his duties representing Matthew Hutcheson.

Hutcheson, a pension fiduciary who once helped steward millions in client money, was charged earlier this year with diverting some $5 million to help finance his failed bid to buy Tamarack, a struggling resort 90 miles north of Boise. Charney says he and Hutcheson disagree over "strategy and presentation" ahead of a scheduled Nov. 27 trial.

"This conflict has grown to the point that effective communication between counsel and the defendant has diminished to the point that the undersigned can no longer provide effective representation," Charney wrote, adding Hutcheson agrees with the move.

Charney didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

Hutcheson, who was released from custody in April on the condition he be supervised by his father-in-law, couldn't be reached for comment. His phone numbers have been disconnected or changed.

Moreover, Charney says he could be called as a witness at the criminal trial later this year because of unspecified evidence that might be brought by the government.

Hutcheson faces decades in prison if convicted of charges in a 31-count indictment issued by a federal grand jury.

Prosecutors say he drained more than $2 million from one retirement account and spent it on home renovations and vehicles_ and separately wired $3.2 million from another account to help finance the first step of his Tamarack acquisition.

Hutcheson has pleaded not guilty and contends everything he did was allowed under federal rules governing retirement funds.

Just what evidence Charney fears the government would introduce to make him a witness in the case isn't specified, but he says it's serious enough that U.S. District Judge Edward Lodge should remove him from the case.

"Since counsel cannot act as both a witness and an advocate, the attempt by the government to offer said evidence, if granted by the court, could result in a conflict and/or in a lack of complete ability for the defendant to defend himself against the accusations that are leveled against him," Charney wrote.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Patricco declined to comment on Charney's court filing.

The trial likely would be delayed if Charney is allowed to exit.

Tamarack, the resort Hutcheson once offered to buy for $40 million, remains in state court foreclosure proceedings.

A judge has cleared the way for a possible sheriff's sale of assets including more than 2,000 development lots.

That likely would result in a lending syndicate led by Swiss-bank Credit Suisse Group gaining control, though just when such a transaction would take place is unclear. Homeowners at the resort are still planning to bankroll a ski season starting in December, despite losing hundreds of thousands last winter.