Judge summons public defender to court in cemetery theft case

Nader Rayan accused of 10 counts of grand theft, failure to appear

Nader Rayan at Nov. 8 court hearing.
Nader Rayan at Nov. 8 court hearing.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Circuit Judge Russell Healey made a rare request Wednesday to meet with a 4th Circuit Public Defender Charlie Cofer after the assistant public defender assigned to a high-profile case asked to be removed.

Nader Rayan, the former manager of Beaches Memorial Park and First Coast Funeral Home in Atlantic Beach, is charged with 10 counts of grand theft and other charges. He was re-arrested last month by bail bond hunters six months after he failed to appear in court.

The public defender assigned to the case filed a motion requesting to withdraw, citing a conflict of interest connected to Rayan's failure to appear charge. If another attorney is appointed, the trial, scheduled to start in three weeks, would be delayed again.

Coffer and the attorneys involved met with Healy for about 45 minutes in the judge’s chambers and decided to give all the attorney’s involved more time to decide how to proceed.

Rayan failed to appear in court in April and was on the run for six months until agents found him hiding in the attic of his Arlington home.

Rayan's initial arrest was the result of an I-TEAM investigation that began after 70 complaints taking money from grieving family and not providing services.

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