FOX19 Investigates: Should taxpayers foot bill for woman accused of $15 million investment scheme?

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - A defense attorney representing 44-year-old Brenda Ashcraft, the former real estate agent accused of being the mastermind behind a $15 million investment scheme, may claim she doesn't have enough money for a lawyer at her upcoming federal trial, FOX19 Investigates has learned.

This afternoon, Ashcraft attorney Kevin Tierney told the judge handling the case that he may file a motion later this week asking taxpayers to foot the bill. If the judge agrees, federal guidelines show that taxpayers would pay Tierney $125 per hour.

Because Tierney would ask the judge that he be appointed under the Criminal Justice Act to continue serving as Ashcraft's attorney, she wouldn't have to worry about going to trial with a public defender at her side, provided the judge grants the motion. Tierney said he would likely know later this week whether he will file it.

The revelation occurred during a pre-trial conference at noon in front of Judge Sandra Beckwith at a conference table in her chambers. FOX19 was the only news organization to have a reporter in there.

Prosecutor Timothy Mangan revealed this afternoon that federal investigators have finished their forensic analysis of two computers seized from Ashcraft. He said the results were turned over to the defense on Friday.

Neither side told Judge Beckwith what investigators found on the computers.

Judge Beckwith has set jury selection for February 18, the day after Presidents Day. Including picking jurors, the judge expects the trial to last eight days. She has set a deadline of February 4 for Ashcraft to decide whether to plead guilty or proceed to trial.

At a pre-trial conference last month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mangan told the judge he thought the results of the forensic examination of Ashcraft's computers would be the leading factor in the defense's decision about whether to present the case to a jury or to try to negotiate a plea deal.

Ashcraft told a pack of journalists in August, "I did nothing wrong."

However, as the media and a man claiming to be a victim in the case followed her for several city blocks seeking answers, she offered no explanation for what became of investors' money.

Copyright 2014 WXIX. All rights reserved.