An effort by defendant Mark Avery to get a new attorney less than two weeks before the scheduled start of his federal trial was denied Wednesday. The $52 million criminal fraud case is still headed for trial starting Feb. 8 or close to it.
U.S. District Judge Ralph Beistline on Wednesday heard a request filed Tuesday by Avery's public defender, Mike Dieni, to withdraw but ruled against him. A switch in lawyers would have delayed the case.
The judge also heard concerns about publicity and about the possibility of moving the trial to Fairbanks, but did not rule on that.
Avery faces 17 federal felonies connected to what prosecutors call a raid on a private trust that he was supposed to protect, not spend.