QUEENSBURY — The Glens Falls man accused of robbing a Lake George bank last month has a new lawyer and got a warning from a judge Wednesday about the pitfalls of trying to represent himself.
Nelson L. Gouge Sr., 45, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of robbery and grand larceny for the Jan. 12 holdup at Trustco Bank. He is accused of stealing several thousand dollars after handing a teller a note indicating he had a gun. He wore a mask obscuring part of his face, but numerous people in law enforcement who knew him from prior cases recognized him.
Gouge wrote a letter to Warren County Judge John Hall last week, asking Hall to dismiss the indictment against him, arguing that he was denied the right to testify before the grand jury that charged him.
He was being represented by the Warren County Public Defender’s Office at the time and argued he had not been informed of the grand jury proceeding and wanted to testify.
Assistant Public Defender Lynn Pucciarelli replied that her office did not represent Gouge in the case at the time, as he had not been charged. He had been arrested days earlier in an unrelated domestic violence case. The public defender’s office did represent him in that case.
Warren County Public Defender Marcy Flores said Wednesday that her office had to ask to be removed from the case since then, because it had a conflict of interest from prior representation of a potential witness in the bank case. The Lake George firm of Teresi & Little was appointed.
Flores said her office is still representing Gouge in the aggravated criminal contempt case that was filed before he was charged with bank robbery.
In court on Wednesday, Hall told Gouge he cannot file his own pretrial motions if he is represented by counsel, and representing himself could lead to further legal trouble.
“I don’t allow hybrid representation,” Hall said.
The judge warned Gouge that filing his own motions could preclude his lawyer from filing an “omnibus” motion to cover all legal issues before trial.
Gouge was directed to come back to court on March 14. He is being held in Warren County Jail for lack of bail and was on parole at the time of his arrest.
Police believe Gouge is a native of Chicago and is a member of the Latin Kings street gang. He came to the region seven or eight years ago to stay with a relative, police believe.
He has incurred at least two felony convictions in Warren County in the years since and was arrested last March for an incident in which he allegedly stole a car and debit card from a woman in Glens Falls.