Bond reduced for former White House lawyer charged with attempting to kill his wife
Published 1:20 pm, Thursday, April 29, 2010
STAMFORD -- A Superior Court judge on Wednesday lowered the $2 million bond keeping a former White House attorney incarcerated on attempted murder charges, but postponed the reduction until attorneys can agree on conditions of his release from custody.
John Michael Farren, 57, arrested in January for allegedly bludgeoning his wife with a large flashlight because of a pending divorce, saw his $2 million bond reduced to $750,000, but execution of the court order was postponed until May 12. His conditions of release must be tailored to his admittance for mental health treatment at the Institute of Living in Hartford.
Incarcerated at a state prison in Newtown since his arrest, Farren appeared Wednesday in state Superior Court in Stamford wearing handcuffs and a prison-issue green jumpsuit, acknowledging his sister, who watched the proceedings from the gallery. Guards from his prison stood behind Farren.
Judge Richard Comerford said he based his decision on reducing the bond on the charges against Farren -- first-degree assault, first-degree strangulation and attempted murder -- and similar cases, mainly that of Michael Parrotta, the Greenwich man charged with stabbing his wife in April 2009.
Parrotta was released in January after posting a $1.5 million bond, and like Farren, had much of his assets frozen because of a civil action filed by his wife shortly after the divorce.
Eugene Riccio, a lawyer representing Farren, said his client's release from custody depends on what happens in civil court. Earlier this month, a Superior Court judge froze $4.1 million of his assets during preliminary hearings on the assault and battery civil suit. The bond money would have to be freed up in order for Farren to be released. A hearing in the civil suit is slated for May 10.
If Farren is able to access enough money, he faces strict conditions of release. Farren will be forbidden from contacting any of his wife's relatives and must wear a GPS monitoring device at all times.
Parrotta must receive permission from probation officials before leaving his home, and the judge said Wednesday that Farren's conditions of release would be similar to Parrotta's.
Wednesday's proceedings were quick and without any arguments. Farren's attorneys laid out arguments for a bond reduction during a hearing two weeks ago. Riccio said the courts should take into account Farren's employment history as an accomplished attorney who reached the pinnacle of power in Washington, D.C., working for both Bush presidencies.
State's Attorney David Cohen said his concerns were with Farren's ability to sign himself out of the mental health treatment facility.
A graduate of Fairfield University, Farren served as undersecretary of commerce for international trade under President George H.W. Bush. He returned to the White House as a deputy counsel for the President George W. Bush.
Farren is accused of exploding into a violent rage over a pending divorce and beating his wife in the head with a large flashlight. She fled their New Canaan mansion with her daughters to a neighbor's house after hitting a panic button in their bedroom.