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Real-life details of crime fiction writer’s high finances revealed at trial

Posted Jan 16, 2013 7:00 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Crime doesn't pay, but crime writing apparently does, according to evidence offered in the trial of a suit brought by author Patricia Cornwell.

The author, known for her fictional accounts of a medical examiner, is suing wealth management firm Anchin, Block & Anchin and one of its former principals for alleged negligence and breach of contract over the handling of her finances, report the Associated Press and the Boston Globe (sub. req.).

Cornwell says she fired Anchin, Block & Anchin after learning she and her company were worth about $13 million—even though she had earned an eight-figure income for each of the prior four years. Among the allegations:

• Cornwell spent $40,000 a month for a New York City apartment, $5 million for a private jet service, and $11 million to buy properties in Massachusetts, according to a lawyer for Anchin, Block & Anchin.

• Cornwell claims the Anchin firm never accounted for money from the sale of a Ferrari or 48 rare books; improperly registered a helicopter, costing her $200,000 in taxes; and used her money for a bat mitzvah gift to the daughter of the money manager who had handled her account.

• Cornwell says she was obligated to pay the Anchin firm $40,000 a month; the firm says the amount was only the retainer. Cornwell says her total tab over more than four years came to more than $3 million.

Anchin Block contends any losses were due to a tough economy, and none of the money was missing. Seemingly high fees were appropriate charges for work done on a behalf of a demanding client, the firm says.

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