As the trial of five former colleagues wound down last week in a federal courtroom in Columbus, Ohio, Lance Poulsen, the founder, former president, chairman and chief executive officer of National Century Financial Enterprises, was impatiently waiting in jail, arguing that conditions there are hardly defendant-friendly.
In August, Poulsen is scheduled to have his own federal criminal trial on fraud and conspiracy charges related to the 2002 collapse of NCFE, which purchased medical accounts receivables from providers, most of which were in dire financial straits. But more imminently, Poulsen is facing witness tampering charges at a trial expected to start this week in Columbus after the first NCFE trial ends.
Considered a flight risk and ordered to jail last November after U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley learned that Poulsen wasnt gainfully employed as a managing member of a Florida imaging center as he had claimed, Poulsen is complaining that the Ross County Jail outside Columbus is no place to mount a proper defense. In January, a motion for reconsideration of Poulsens jailing was denied by Marbley, but with orders that Poulsen receive certain accommodations while incarcerated to enable him to assist his counsel prepare his defense.
By Feb. 14, Poulsen had numerous complaints about the jail accommodations, including lack of regular or sufficient access to a workroom. His designated area for working was used for other purposes and by other inmates, preventing him from storing his documents or laptop there, he complained in a court filing. He also could not effectively communicate telephonically with his counsel.
In a subsequent status report, Poulsens attorney, William Terpening, reported that he was moved to the infirmary, which comes with its own litany of problems. The area is small, has to be shared with ill inmates and has no work table except for the floor or the top bunk of some bunk beds. On weekends it is co-occupied by an individual serving 16 weeks for driving under the influence whose noisy breathing machine for emphysema consumes space in the room and disrupts document review efforts, according to the status report. As a result, Poulsen has lost four precious months to prepare for both trials, he says. The status report includes a hand-drawn illustration of the work room.
Poulsen has filed a notice of appeal to his jailing with the 6th District Court of Appeals. Terpening says he doesnt expect a decision before the conclusion of the witness-tampering trial, which is expected to take a week.