Hatch’s ex-wife takes stand, defense rests after an hour of testimony

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Ira Hatch’s attorney rested his defense Tuesday morning after only about an hour of testimony from a few witnesses, including Hatch’s ex-wife, Marjorie Hatch.

Both sides are expected to make their closing arguments Wednesday and the matter could be sent to the jury later in the day or Thursday for deliberations. Hatch faces 45 felony charges including grand theft, racketeering and money laundering that led to about 800 people being defrauded out of $4 million in deposits at Hatch’s firm Coastal Escrow Services Inc.

Greg Eisenmenger, Hatch’s attorney, called Marjorie to the stand under limited parameters after being reminded that her testimony could be used against her later, in the event the State Attorney’s Office decides to pursue her in the grand theft case.

Eisenmenger told the court, outside the presence of the jury, that he would be asking the former Mrs. Hatch only about a trip she took with her son, Rory, and then-husband, Ira, in August 2007 and the education trust fund the Hatch’s set up for Rory and daughter, Danielle.

Marjorie Hatch took the stand and told the court that the Hatch’s had traveled to Houston, Texas, in mid-August 2007 to get Rory settled into his dorm at Rice University. They had left Aug. 16 and returned to Vero Beach on Aug. 21.

She said Ira had been with the family the entire time, though he made some phone calls to the office while they were in Houston.

Assistant State Attorney Lev Evans asked Marjorie if Ira had made frequent calls to the office.

“I don’t have a great recollection one way or the other,” she responded.

Prior to Marjorie’s testimony about the trip to Texas, Eisenmenger had called up Christina Perna, who worked at Hatch & Doty PA and kept Hatch’s calendar. She testified that Hatch was out of marked as out of the office on Aug. 16, 17, and 20 – which was consistent with the trip to Texas the Hatch family made.

Evans later asked Marjorie about the trust fund she and Ira had set up for their children’s education, pointing to her attempt to withdraw $5,000 cash from Harbor Federal Bank on Sept. 4, the day after Coastal Escrow Services was shut down by law enforcement.

Marjorie explained that she had withdrawn the cash to pay for her daughter’s tuition at the University of Florida law school because a check would not have cleared in time to make the payment.

Evans asked Marjorie if she were aware at the time she was withdrawing the funds that the state was trying to seize money from Coastal Escrow Services.

“You’re aware of that, right?” Evans asked.

“I’m aware of what I read in the paper,” Marjorie said, adding, “I never saw anyone physically doing something.”

In redirect, Eisenmenger asked Marjorie if she had received notice from the State Attorney’s Office, law enforcement agencies, or anyone else that the state was trying to seize funds from her husband’s businesses.

She said she had not.

Eisenmenger also called State Attorney’s Office investigator Ed Ahrens Tuesday, only to ask where a particular interview had been held.

He also called on Charles Strickland, who had served a subpoena to Ira Hatch. He said that when he met with Hatch, the attorney was wearing informal clothes and had a beard. Strickland likened Hatch’s appearance to someone being on vacation.

Immediately following Strickland’s brief testimony, Eisenmenger announced that his defense had rested.

The jurors were then dismissed until Wednesday morning, where they are to hear the State Attorney’s Office closing statements at 9 a.m. Prosecutors will have a maximum of three hours for their closing, though they told the court they plan to take about half the allotted time.

After that, Eisenmenger will have three hours to give his closing. He, too, told the court he plans to take less than that.

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