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Lawsuit alleges slips over BLIPS Shane N. Walker is the Charleston, W.Va., woman who enjoyed-perhaps a better word is “endured”-fleeting fame in February after filing a police complaint that her boyfriend had stolen her marijuana. A similar fate seems unlikely for Los Angeles businessman Howard Ruby, even though his civil suit-filed on March 2-has a kinship with Walker’s complaint. The 46-page suit details Ruby’s unsuccessful attempt to avoid taxes by using a shelter called BLIPS, or Bond Linked Premium Structure. Ruby alleges that he trusted his accountants at KPMG and lawyers at Brown & Wood, believing that “in exchange for a relatively small fee, the investor would obtain a tax loss in 60 days of more than 10 times the fee” and that the Internal Revenue Service was “more likely than not” to let him get away with it. He backed up his faith with a $2.9 million fee, he said. But his faith was betrayed. The IRS turned thumbs down on BLIPS. Ruby charged that that the law firm declared the BLIPS could fly with no independent legal “research or analysis.” If he’d known that, the suit said, it would have ended the deal. This “despicable conduct,” he declared, subjected him to “cruel and unjust hardship” which included the loss of $10 million on his 1999, 2000 and 2001 taxes-not to mention that he didn’t realize that he needed an alternative way to avoid paying taxes. The suit names Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, which Brown & Wood merged into in 2001. A comment was not available from the law firm by press time. Life minus 5 years What’s life in prison minus time off for good behavior? That existential calculation was before the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia in Glascoe v. United States, decided on Feb. 27. “Precisely how long is an individual life span minus, say, five years and 10 days,” wrote Raymond Randolph for a panel affirming a lower court. “One cannot give a firm answer if the person is still alive.” Attorneys for Eric Glascoe and two co-inmates seeking an early release argued for an “actuarial” solution, using, say, 45 more years. But that would convert an indeterminate sentence to a determinate one. The problem, he wrote, requires legislation and not the courts. Youth v. celebrity “She’s the no. 1 draft choice,” soon-to-be celebrity lawyer Ed Masry was quoted in the Los Angeles Daily News in 1999, describing Kissandra Cohen. “Every major law firm in California is trying to get her.” Cohen was a former child prodigy, once described as California’s youngest lawyer. She joined Masry’s Westlake Village, Calif., firm of Masry & Vititoe, but within months ended up suing for wrongful termination, sexual harassment and slander. She lost all but the slander count last June. The jury awarded one year’s salary, $120,000, plus $600,000 in legal fees. It gets more sordid. Masry’s celebrity status grew out of the fact that Erin Brockovich was a paralegal in his office. He was played by Albert Finney in the blockbuster movie about a toxic-poisoning case starring Julia Roberts as Brockovich. On March 1, Cohen, 24, refiled against Masry, Brockovich and others alleging that they rigged the trial. She said it was with the help of co-defendant Anthony Pellicano, a private investigator now serving time for possessing explosives. Echoing news reports, the suit said the FBI is investigating Pellicano’s alleged use of illegal wiretaps for prominent attorneys who were clients. Should it make it to trial, Exhibit A may be another Masry quote, published in November 2003 in the Hollywood Reporter. He never wiretapped, Masry said, but “I did use Anthony Pellicano once in a while,” including the first three months of the Cohen trial.

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