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Legal Ethics

New Indictment of Fen-phen Lawyers Adds Charges, Seeks $50M More

Posted Sep 5, 2008 10:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A new indictment against two lawyers accused of defrauding their fen-phen clients adds new charges and seeks $50 million more in forfeiture.

The lawyers, William Gallion and Shirley Cunningham Jr., were tried in Kentucky this summer on a single charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. A mistrial was declared when a jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal.

The new indictment adds eight wire-fraud counts and seeks a total forfeiture of $94.6 million, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. The indictment claims the two lawyers paid about one-third of the $200 million fen-phen settlement to 440 of their diet-drug clients and kept the rest for themselves, other lawyers and clients, the story says. They are also accused of putting $20 million in leftover money into a charitable fund and paying themselves to manage it.

The new charges may be a response to criticism that the single charge did not give jurors enough choices.

U.S. District Judge Danny Reeves has refused to delay the lawyers’ retrial, the Courier-Journal reports in a separate story. He said it should be scheduled within 70 days of Sept. 11, the day the lawyers are scheduled to appear in court on the new indictment.

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