Ex-prison guard loses his defense attorney

May 21, 2003 12:00 am

By SCOTT PESZNECKER

Ken Foley, attorney for a former correctional officer facing molestation and pornography charges announced yesterday he will withdraw from the case.

His soon-to-be ex-client, Neil Alden Leash, 46, faces 95 counts of sexual abuse and pornography in Calaveras County Superior Court. A federal grand jury in late January indicted him on 11 charges of manufacturing child pornography and one count of possessing child pornography.

Leash is a former officer for the Sierra Conservation Center in west Tuolumne County. He's being held in the Calaveras County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

When Leash was arrested at his San Andreas residence in September, he faced four charges of child molestation and one charge of indecent exposure.

That's when he hired Foley, of San Andreas.

In a court yesterday, Foley said he cannot continue representing Leash because Leash "does not have the financial resources," considering all the charges added after the Calaveras County District Attorney's Office found images of child and adult pornography on Leash's home computer and on videotapes.

"This case could take months," Foley told Judge John Martin. "To prepare for it could take even more time."

Martin scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. Monday, June 2. He said a trial date might be set at that hearing.

For the time being, Martin entered not-guilty pleas to the charges on Leash's behalf and said Leash can change those pleas after he gets a new lawyer.

Wearing an orange prison-issue jumpsuit, Leash sat quietly next to Foley, who did the talking for him during the brief hearing.

Among the 95 counts against Leash are eight counts of rape — two counts against one victim and six against another.

The Calaveras County criminal complaint lists three victims, all minors, labeled as Jane Doe, Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2.

The remaining counts stem from various acts of pornography and sexual abuse.