A federal judge Monday allowed a defense attorney to withdraw from the Yellow House Store case as the district court prepares to decide whether defendant Guy Neighbors can be ordered to take medication.
U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia had already ruled in 2009 that Neighbors was not mentally competent to assist in his defense.
Neighbors, 53, of Lawrence, is accused of selling stolen goods from the former secondhand store, 1904 Mass., and faces charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Prosecutors accuse him in two other federal cases of obstructing a theft investigation and growing marijuana.
“Issues related to competency and other concerns have resulted in an irretrievable breakdown in communications between Mr. Neighbors and undersigned counsel,” defense attorney Cheryl Pilate wrote in her motion to withdraw from the case.
A federal appeals court recently sent the case back to Murguia and said he needed to conduct a more stringent four-part test set out by U.S. Supreme Court precedent before ordering Neighbors to involuntarily take medication. According to court records, Murguia will appoint a new defense attorney for the new hearing.
Neighbors’ wife, Carrie Neighbors, 49, in January began serving an eight-year prison sentence after a jury in 2010 convicted her of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering, 12 counts of wire fraud and three counts of money laundering. She is appealing that verdict.