WASHINGTON Dec 3 The U.S. Supreme Court refused
on Monday to hear an appeal by a Kentucky lawyer accused of
cheating clients out of millions of dollars paid in a settlement
over the diet drug combination fen-phen.
The high court, without explanation, rejected William
Gallion's bid to overturn his conviction for fraud related to
his representation of 440 clients who had opted out of a
nationwide class action claiming injuries from the anti-obesity
A jury convicted the once-prominent attorney from Lexington,
Kentucky, and his co-counsel Shirley Cunningham in 2009 for
defrauding clients out of their share of a $200 million
settlement with American Home Products, now part of Pfizer Inc
Under their agreements with clients, the lawyers were
supposed to receive one-third of any settlement amount. Instead,
they pocketed twice that amount, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors accused Cunningham and Gallion of lying to
clients about the settlement negotiations, misleading the trial
judge and funneling settlement funds into a foundation, the
Kentucky Fund for Healthy Living, where they were paid
Gallion was sentenced to 25 years in prison while Cunningham
received a 20-year term, and the men had to pay $127 million in
restitution to their clients. The jury acquitted a third lawyer
who had raised alcoholism as a defense.
Gallion and Cunningham appealed their convictions to the 6th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2009, claiming they were denied
a fair trial. They argued that they did not intend to defraud
their clients but rather relied on the guidance of another
lawyer and the fact that the judge approved their actions.
But the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected their
arguments, finding that the pair had "participated in a massive
scheme to defraud their clients."
Asking the Supreme Court to review his case, Gallion said
the trial judge had improperly decided a factual question that
should have been left to the jury. He also argued that findings
from a parallel investigation by the Kentucky Bar Association
should not have been admitted as evidence in the criminal case.
But the court, in an order without comment, declined to take
the case on Monday.
Reached by phone, Gallion's lawyer Louis Sirkin said he had
not yet seen the order and declined to comment.
Clifton Harviel, who represented Cunningham, said his client
was serving out his sentence at a federal correctional facility
The case is Gallion v. United States, U.S. Supreme Court,