Attorneys who represented Richard “Rick” Gates, the former Trump campaign official who testified for the government against his former boss Paul Manafort, have sued in Manhattan federal court over his failure to pay legal bills incurred before attorneys and client parted ways in February.
In a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York filing late Wednesday, Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack claim Gates has so far stiffed it on more than $368,000 for legal services rendered defending him in the criminal action brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.
In February, firm name attorney Walter Mack sought to be removed as Gates’ counsel, citing irreconcilable differences. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia approved the move. Shortly after, Gates, through his new counsel, Sidley Austin senior counsel Thomas Green, pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges and entered into a cooperation agreement with the government.
Green did not respond to a request for comment.
According to Doar Rieck’s counsel in the suit, private attorney Joel A. Siegel, the firm submitted an invoice in September based on a previous retainer agreement signed by the parties. Gates has never disputed or expressed dissatisfaction with the services rendered, according to the complaint.
So far Gates has paid $20,000 of the original $388,525.34 invoice, resulting in the current balance. Despite demands made on Gates to pay the remainder, the complaint claims Gates “has failed and refused to pay the amount due and owing.”
Gates’ legal finance concerns have colored his dealings with Mueller’s office. Shortly after charges were filed, Berman reprimanded Gates for appearing in a pretaped video played at a fundraising event for his legal costs, despite the presence of a gag order in the case.
Additionally, according to the Wall Street Journal, a former lawyer for Trump attempted at one point to divert money from the White House’s legal defense fund for the Mueller probe to help Gates and Manafort. The attorney, John Dowd, was blocked by Trump aides concerned the move and a pledge of $25,000 of his own money could be seen as interfering with the investigation.
Despite the high-profile context around the suit against Gates, Siegel told the New York Law Journal the suit was a straightforward one.
“It’s a garden-variety failure to pay for services rendered,” Siegel said. “I understand it was a high-profile case, but it boils down to something mundane.”