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Former Brown County prosecutor found dead
Updated on: 02.05.13

Ben Hoff III, a former Brown County prosecutor, attorney for the Town of Nashville and a public defender, died Saturday, Feb. 2.

Hoff, 61, was found outside his Lake LaSalle home Saturday afternoon, reported Brown County Coroner Rob Ayers. An autopsy conducted Monday revealed the cause of his death as a massive heart attack.

Hoff had a history of heart disease, Ayers said, adding that Saturday’s cold was not a factor in his death.

Hoff had practiced law in Brown County for 20 years. He was elected Brown County prosecutor and served one term in the early 1990s, remembered current Brown County Prosecutor Jim Oliver. Oliver met Hoff in the four-way Democratic primary for that job in 1998. Hoff ran again in 2002 as an independent candidate.

Current Town Attorney James T. Roberts, also a former Brown County prosecutor, said Hoff served as a deputy prosecutor under Andy Szakaly after arriving in town from Aspen, Colo. Roberts delighted in teasing him about leaving "the best job in the world" to get a law license and practice here. Hoff had once been a bartender at the Hotel Jerome, a "fine old hotel" in the richest ski town in Colorado, Roberts said.

Hoff also worked in private practice with attorney Jim Troiani in downtown Nashville, near the present-day Brown County History Center, Roberts said.

Troiani, who now practices in Indianapolis, said Hoff was excellent at handling witnesses with respect.

"He was an asset to your community and the legal profession because he was an attorney who cared about the people," Troiani said Tuesday. "Some attorneys -- as is the case in any profession -- are more interested in the almighty dollar. Ben was not one of those.

"... Even if you disagreed with him, you still liked him."

Fellow attorney Dave Woods said Hoff had recently shown interest in serving on the new county public defender board. He was still practicing law out of his home.

His obituary can be read here.

Other comments about Hoff can be read in the Feb. 6 Brown County Democrat.

-- Sara Clifford, Brown County Democrat

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