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Police raid law office, wire client in ‘bizarre’ probe of claimed lawyer effort to aid client escape

Posted Jul 10, 2014 11:45 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Police in Las Vegas raided a criminal defense attorney's law office on June 26 and seized his cellphone and client files and billing records for at least one defendant because that defendant claimed the attorney has been trying to help him leave the country.

What the Las Vegas Review-Journal describes as a convoluted and "bizarre" tale of finger-pointing in multiple directions centers on defendant Robert Wolfe, 69, who is facing a federal drug-trafficking case. Already cooperating with the feds, who are trying to determine if physicians are illegally providing painkillers, Wolfe told local police he feared his defense counsel, Ben Nadig, was trying to get him out of the country so the attorney could steal from him.

As Las Vegas police worked with Wolfe and had him wear a wire to try to develop evidence against Nadig concerning the claimed escape plot, detectives told Wolfe not to tell the feds about their probe, for fear the news would spread like wildfire in the legal community, reports an earlier Las Vegas Review-Journal article.

Wolfe's new lawyer, Louis Schneider, revealed the local police probe of Nadig's claimed participation in an escape plot involving Wolfe during a federal court hearing last week. Until then the feds hadn't known about the Las Vegas investigation, the newspaper says.

At issue in last week's federal hearing was whether Wolfe should be held behind bars because, the feds say, he tried to get a passport to escape to Panama. Schneider said during the hearing there was no such plan on Wolfe's part.

Meanwhile, Michael Sanft, a lawyer who is representing Nadig, said Wednesday that Nadig had notified federal prosecutors by email, weeks before his law office was raided, that he feared Wolfe was planning to escape, the newspaper reports.

That sparked a responding salvo from Schneider, who told the Review-Journal that Nadig's email to the feds could be "a serious violation of the attorney-client privilege." Sanft then said an exception to privilege rules allows a lawyer to report a client is about to commit a crime.

Sanft said last week Nadig is cooperating in the Las Vegas police investigation, adding: :We’re confident that, at the end of the day, Wolfe will turn out to be a liar."

Nadig previously worked as a deputy city attorney and has been in practice in Las Vegas for about eight years.

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