There was little chance that the Kentucky Bar was going to disregard the extensively papered recommendation of the trial commissioner after a 43-witness trial over the fen-phen scandal, but it's good to see the result, if one that was several years late. Commissioner Graham found that Chesley:
- Led a "clandestine meeting" with Judge Joseph Bamberger in February 2002 to get the court's "stamp of approval upon this criminal enterprise" and his approval of fees totaling 49 percent of the settlement.
- Responded with "misleading," "incomplete" and in some instances "outright falsehoods" when the Bar Association began investigating him.
- Violated several disciplinary rules, including taking an unreasonable fee, making a false statement to a tribunal and failing to provide clients with information about the total value of the settlement.
Ohio will almost certainly pursue reciprocal discipline, but the 75-year-old has indicated that he will appeal to the Kentucky Supreme Court, which will likely delay the inevitable for a year or two. [Courier-Journal; Kentucky.com]
The order includes a requirement to disgorge $7.6 million—which means that Chesley will still have made $12.4 million from his unethical behavior. Nice work if you can get it. And once again, given the extensive record and overwhelming evidence of misconduct here, I note the odd decision of the U.S. Attorney's office not to criminally prosecute Chesley, who wasn't even much of a cooperating witness at the trials of his co-conspirators.