Michael Scanlon, Jack Abramoff’s partner in crime, doesn’t want to pony up the ill-gotten millions he owes to Abramoff’s former lobbying firm, Greenberg Traurig, and he doesn’t think he has to, his attorneys said Tuesday in a court filing.
Scanlon, who worked hand-in-glove with Abramoff, pleaded guilty to defrauding a group of Native American tribes out of tens of millions of dollars and last monthwas sentenced to 20 months in prison and ordered to pay Greenberg for its losses. Greenberg has settled a series of actual and threatened lawsuits from the tribes that Scanlon and Abramoff defrauded, and now the K Street giant is demanding that Scanlon make good on the court-ordered compensation payments and pay the firm more than $17 million.Not so fast, say Scanlon’s attorneys, who argue the firm is liable in the scheme to defraud the tribes, which he and Abramoff carried out. The defense attorneys are urging a judge to determine that Scanlon can pursue the objection. If the judge agrees, Scanlon still must show that Greenberg played some role in the scheme or at least shares the liability for it and so must be blocked from receiving restitution.
Greenberg’s lawyers last month called Scanlon’s activities “reprehensible” and said they did not know about it or simply look the other way. If Greenberg is not compensated, its attorneys point out that Scanlon would be allowed to keep the money he made from the criminal scheme, which would do nothing to discourage the same type of white-collar corruption and misdeeds in the future.
Unlike Abramoff, who was struggling to support his family at the end of the scandal, Scanlon invested his tens of millions in real estate and is a very rich man by anyone’s standards. A majority of his sentencing hearing last month was devoted to his real-estate development plans and whether he could travel to a hilltop luxury property he owns in St. Barts.
Scanlon’s defense attorneys, including Roes & Gray partner Stephen Braga, has argued that Greenberg is potentially liable in the fraud scheme and therefore does not deserve to be compensated. The case is without precedent in District of Columbia courts, he noted.
At Scanlon’s sentencing, Judge Ellen Huvelle, said another judge would be assigned to hear the case because she had previously worked at the Williams & Connolly, the firm representing Greenberg.