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NJ Public Defender Charged With Extorting Client

(Credit Getty Images)

(Credit Getty Images)

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CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A southern New Jersey municipal public defender and court translator have been accused of using their positions to take $800 from a man who spoke little English.

Pennsauken public defender Mario Persiano Jr. and translator Ana Baisden were both charged Wednesday with official misconduct and conspiracy to commit theft by extortion. Investigators are looking into whether they may be charged in additional cases.

Neither immediately returned calls to The Associated Press.

Camden County prosecutors say the translator told a man charged with drunk driving that he had to pay $800 to receive effective representation by the public defender. Officials say when the man paid the money, Baisden gave him a receipt and then split the money with Persiano.

Judges may impose fees up to $250 for a public defender.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)