Greenberg Traurig Partner Charged With Overbilling Client By $1M to Gain Prestige in Firm
Posted Mar 5, 2010 8:23 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A now-former partner of Greenberg Traurig has been criminally charged with theft for allegedly overbilling a government client in the Chicago suburbs by more than $1 million.
Mark McCombs, 50, is accused of taking advantage of longstanding professional and personal relationships with officials in Village of Calumet Park and charging more than $1 million since 2003 for work that wasn't performed, reports the Chicago Tribune. If convicted of the felony, he could be sentenced to six to 30 years in prison.
While McCombs obtained no direct benefit from his alleged crime, he gained prestige—and, at least potentially, higher pay—at Greenberg Traurig by overbilling, Cook County prosecutors contend.
The Northwestern University School of Law graduate is no longer listed on the firm's website, but a 2002 Greenberg Traurig press release details his background and governmental practice at the time he began working at Greenberg Traurig's office in Chicago.
His Martindale-Hubbell listing says the village honored him by designating a "Mark McCombs Drive" in recognition of his leading role in redeveloping the commercial corridor along Ashland Avenue and Vermont Street.
"This afternoon, upon learning of these charges, the law firm severed connections with Mr. McCombs, who had been an attorney with the firm," a Greenberg Traurig spokeswoman tells the Tribune. "The firm is fully cooperating with the investigation and has reported these charges to the appropriate disciplinary agency. The firm has spoken with Calumet Park town officials and assured them that any fees not properly billed to the village will be promptly reimbursed."
The Tribune says the scheme came to light when a school district that was to receive tax funds from the tiny suburb became suspicious about a dearth of information during a presentation by McCombs.
Confronted with the claimed theft, he allegedly begged village officials to be permitted to repay a portion of the money and threatened that Greenberg Traurig would litigate if the matter became public, the prosecution contends in a court filing. McCombs allegedly admitted to witnesses that he overbilled the village between $600,000 and $800,000, but authorities say the actual amount exceeds $1 million.
A Chicago Sun-Times article provides further details about the alleged overbilling scheme and how it was discovered. In addition to overbilling, it says, McCombs is accused of charging a higher-than-authorized hourly fee.
Neither article includes any comment from McCombs or his legal counsel.