Flights to Europe on the Concorde and lavish living for a jailed client have once again landed famed defense attorney F. Lee Bailey in trouble with a federal judge in Florida.
Hiring a personal valet, supplying a "daily gourmet smorgasbord of fresh seafood and high-priced carry outs" for a jailed drug smuggler are not things a prudent attorney would do with money that was supposed to be forfeited to the government, says U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul in an order released Thursday.
Paul's ruling comes more than a year after Bailey attempted to collect $1.5-million he spent on behalf of his client, drug smuggler Claude DuBoc. Instead of allowing him to collect money, Paul ordered Bailey to pay an additional $423,737 to federal authorities in Tallahassee by Nov. 15.
Hiring a personal valet to provide services to Duboc while he was in the Levy County Jail, serving up fresh sushi and other expensive food and buying a $1,000 designer suit for the inmate are not reasonable expenses, Paul said.
The judge also refused claims for money Bailey spent to fly to Europe on the Concorde ($4,254), travel between the O.J. Simpson trial in Los Angeles and his client's business in Florida, payments to his personal pilot, money paid to Duboc's relatives, meals at five-star restaurants in Europe and other expenditures made without receipts.
The $56,312 spent on Duboc while he was in jail was "particularly striking," Paul noted. It included a place setting of dishes (service for four), lavish seafood and beef meals, live lobster, jumbo shrimp, swordfish steak, salmon steak, tuna, grouper, flounder, fresh crab, scallops, Cajun smoked crawfish, steaks, fruits and various desserts.
In addition, Duboc had sushi delivered to the jail at least 51 times during one eight-month stretch behind bars. The total sushi tab was $1,370.96.
In addition, Bailey wired $5,000 cash to a woman in the Philippines who is not Duboc's wife, but is apparently the mother of some of his children. Bailey also paid $80,000 for Duboc's hip surgery because Duboc wanted to select one of the finest doctors available.
The judge did allow payment for first-class travel and expensive hotel rooms over the objections of U.S. Attorney Michael Patterson who had asked that Bailey receive government per diem.
Defending his first class travel on the witness stand last year, Bailey said he doesn't represent clients who make him fly coach because he is too often badgered for free legal advice.
In all, the judge tossed out expenses totaling about $340,000 as "frivolous and unreasonable" demands on government money.
The judge did approve payment of $22,000 in legal fees that Bailey paid to other lawyers, but rejected bills for $82,000 more because there is no proof the money was actually paid.
The new bill sent to Bailey is in addition to the $700,000 payment Bailey made in 1996 to get out of prison. Bailey spent almost six weeks behind bars after Paul found him in contempt for his failure to adequately account for more than $2.4-million he took from his client's European accounts and funneled into his own account.
Bailey has frequently said he cannot afford to pay the remaining money.
Paul says Bailey was well aware that any money he spent had to be approved by a judge.
Roger Zuckerman, the Washington lawyer who represents Bailey, refused to discuss the order Thursday and said he will not allow Bailey to respond to questions.
Bailey landed in trouble in early 1996 after the judge ordered him to explain how he spent money that should have been forfeited to the government.