Posted Feb 03, 2010 02:05 am CST
Two executives of the Hartford insurance company pleaded guilty today in federal court in Houston in a conspiracy case concerning the millions of dollars worth of kickbacks they allegedly received from a local personal injury lawyer in exchange for their help in obtaining hefty settlements on behalf of silicosis clients.
The two can withdraw their pleas if the lawyer, Warren Todd Hoeffner, succeeds in his effort to win an appellate court ruling that he can’t be retried on federal conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges concerning his alleged payments, reports the Houston Chronicle. A jury deadlocked last year during a trial of his case, and Hoeffner argues it would violate double jeopardy to try him again.
His lawyer, Chris Flood, contends that it was the insurance executives who extorted money from Hoeffner, under threat of blocking his settlements if he didn’t ante up. The two insurance executives allegedly received a total of nearly $3 million from the attorney.
Hoeffner is currently facing civil litigation by clients and the Hartford, and has counterclaimed against the insurer.
ABAJournal.com: “Trial Starts for PI Lawyer Accused of Paying Bribes for Settlement”