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GREENBERG TRAURIG LOBBYIST RESIGNS MIAMI — The Greenberg Traurig law firm has forced out its biggest Washington, D.C., rainmaker amid controversy over tens of millions of dollars in fees charged to four Indian tribes over the past several years. Jack Abramoff, a Republican lobbyist and fund raiser with close ties to powerful House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, resigned on Tuesday at the request of the firm. He was the head of Greenberg’s Washington lobbying office. “Greenberg Traurig has accepted Jack Abramoff’s resignation from the firm, effective today,” the firm said in a statement. “Last Friday, Feb. 27, Mr. Abramoff disclosed to the firm for the first time personal transactions and related conduct which are unacceptable to the firm.” Cesar Alvarez, president and chief executive of the Miami-based firm, said the firm has hired Henry F. Schuelke III, a partner at Janis Schuelke & Wechsler in Washington, to conduct an internal investigation. Alvarez declined to comment directly on the Abramoff matter until the firm’s investigation is completed. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Rep. Frank Wolfe, R-Va., have called for a congressional investigation of the fees. Hired by Greenberg Traurig in December 2000 as senior director of government affairs, Abramoff, an attorney, played a big role in making the firm a major lobbying shop in Washington. The firm hired Abramoff and 10 of his fellow lobbyists from Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds to jump-start its Washington lobbying practice. Abramoff also caused a stir in South Florida when he and two other investors purchased Dania Beach-based SunCruz Casinos from South Florida businessman Gus Boulis in late 2000, not long before Boulis was murdered gangland-style. Abramoff is listed on the Web site for President Bush’s re-election campaign as a “pioneer,” meaning he has raised more than $100,000. He also has been active on behalf of Mel Martinez, a former Bush Cabinet member and partner at Akerman Senterfitt in Orlando who is running for the GOP nomination for Bob Graham’s U.S. Senate seat. — Miami Daily Business Review LEGAL MALPRACTICE SUIT SETTLEMENT NOT OK’D PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia judge on Tuesday refused to approve a $4.5 million settlement proposed by law firm Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll and limited partners of the Keystone Venture V capital fund in an attempt to resolve a legal malpractice suit alleging that lawyers failed to keep public pension funds in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts from losing money. Under the proposed settlement, the state workers’ pension funds would have recovered $4.5 million — less plaintiff attorneys fees and other costs — of $9 million the limited partners alleged in the complaint was lost when the partnership’s principal, Kiernan Dale, wrongfully diverted money to several companies controlled by Michael Liberty, a businessman. Five limited partners, representing 71 percent of the limited partners, filed the derivative lawsuit, Treasurer of the State of Connecticut v. Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, on behalf of Keystone. The complaint and the unopposed stipulation and agreement for settlement were filed on the same day, Dec. 13. The Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System and the city of Philadelphia Board of Pensions and Retirement are two of the plaintiffs. The limited partners alleged in the complaint that the law firm, while representing Keystone, was told about the misappropriated funds but didn’t advise the managing directors who were dealing with the incident to tell the limited partners about Dale’s misconduct. The limited partners also alleged they should have been told that the law firm had negotiated a settlement with Liberty’s companies releasing them from legal liability in any claims arising out of the unexplained payments. The law firm has denied any wrongdoing or liability. — The Legal Intelligencer

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