US Says Ex-Peruvian President May Not Deserve Free Lawyer

Alejandro Toledo, then the president of Peru, speaks during the session “The Challenge for Latin America” at the annual 2003 meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (World Economic Forum / Daniel Ammann)

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Questioning whether someone accused of taking $20 million in bribes qualifies for free legal counsel, a Justice Department lawyer urged a federal judge Wednesday to take a close look at a former Peruvian president’s finances.

Alejandro Toledo Manrique, who led Peru’s government from 2001 to 2006, was arrested by U.S. marshals on July 16 after the Peruvian government requested his extradition.

The Peruvian government issued a warrant for Toledo’s arrest in February 2017, alleging he took $20 million in bribes from a Brazilian construction company in exchange for government contracts.

Last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Hixson denied Toledo bail, finding he posed a flight risk after he was reportedly found with $40,000 in cash in a suitcase during his arrest.

On Tuesday, U.S. Justice Department lawyer Elise LaPunzina asked Hixson to consider all of Toledo’s sources of income in deciding whether he qualifies for a public defender. She said the former Peruvian president may have extra income from book sales and his former gig as a Stanford University professor.

Toledo’s book, “The Shared Society: A Vision for the Global Future of Latin America” was published by Stanford University Press in 2015.

The judge postponed deciding the public defender issue until the next court hearing, saying he needs more time to review financial information submitted by Toledo’s counsel on Tuesday. Hixson asked Public Defender Graham Archer to continue representing Toledo in the meantime.

Toledo is expected back in court for a bond hearing on Aug. 22.

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