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Bob Harper to begin serving as public defender
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Bob Harper to begin serving as public defender

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VALPARAISO | Bob Harper steps down at the end of Friday as county commissioner only to put on the hat of public defender.

Harper has been hired at $40,599 a year, or $1,100 a year more than he was making as a commissioner.

The 69-year-old said he is on Medicare and thus will not be taking the health insurance offered to the public defender staff. He will continue receiving retirement benefit contributions, but he said it does not amount to much money.

"I like this kind of work," said Harper, who has a private law practice focusing on personal injury and criminal defense work.

Harper had served as Portage city judge and as elected county prosecutor during the early 1970s.

Harper's law partner, Larry Rogers, also was hired recently as a public defender, according to Ken Elwood, who took over as chief public defender last month following the September death of James Tsoutsouris, who had run the office since it was created in 1970.

Dolores Aylesworth resigned as public defender in the wake of the change in leadership.

Elwood oversees 14 attorneys, who he said end up representing more than half of those charged with crimes who cannot afford legal representation.

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