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Los Angeles-Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles conducting a wide-sweeping investigation of illegal wiretapping have asserted conflict of interest issues involving Terry Christensen, the only lawyer indicted as part of the probe. Prosecutors allege that Christensen, managing partner of Los Angeles-based Christensen, Glaser, Fink, Jacobs, Weil & Shapiro, has a conflict of interest in retaining fellow name partner Robert Shapiro as part of his defense team. Christensen said the conflict issues were raised because he wanted Shapiro to represent him in the investigation while another partner, Louis “Skip” Miller, represented buyout investor Alec Gores, a potential witness in the wiretapping case. Miller, a former name partner, announced earlier this month that he was leaving the firm, which recently changed its name from Christensen, Miller, Fink, Jacobs, Glaser, Weil & Shapiro. “Because Skip represented Alec Gores, Bob Shapiro cannot represent me-that is their contention,” Christensen said of federal prosecutors. “We do not agree.” But Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, denied that the government made such a contention. He said that the U.S. attorney’s office is raising two conflict issues that are unrelated to one another. “There have been two potential conflict issues that have come up,” Mrozek said. “One relates to a Christensen Miller partner representing a potential witness. The second relates to a partner representing Mr. Christensen.” He declined to be more specific. Shapiro did not return calls for comment. The fourth addition Shapiro would be the fourth attorney for Christensen, whose defense team currently includes Jan Handzlik and Terree Bowers, two partners in the Los Angeles office of Washington-based Howrey. Christensen also recently hired Dan Webb, a white-collar defense lawyer in Winston & Strawn’s Chicago home office. Christensen, the long-time lawyer for billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, is accused in the federal probe of paying at least $100,000 to private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who illegally wiretapped the phones of Kerkorian’s ex-wife, Lisa Bonder Kerkorian, in a high-profile child custody dispute four years ago. The indictment, which has been amended to include 14 defendants, including Pellicano, also said that the sleuth in January 2001 intercepted the phone conversations of Lisa Gores, whose ex-husband Alec Gores filed for divorce one month later. Court records say Alec Gores’ divorce lawyer at that time was Dennis Wasser, a partner at Wasser, Cooperman & Carter, whose lawyers have said he is a “person of interest” in the wiretapping probe. Miller has been representing Gores as part of that investigation, Christensen said. “Mr. Miller was representing him in connection with him being a potential witness,” Christensen said. “Mr. Gores is a potential witness against Mr. Pellicano.” Gores, founder of a private equity firm called The Gores Group in Los Angeles, did not return calls. Miller declined to comment. Christensen said federal prosecutors have called Shapiro directly and approached him at a hearing to discuss the conflict issue. Specifically, he said that prosecutors allege that Shapiro should not get involved in the case since Miller was representing Gores. While he denied that scenario presented an actual conflict, Christensen admitted it was “not a good situation.” He denied the conflict issue played a role in Miller’s decision to leave the firm. “This is a government contention to try to keep me from using Bob Shapiro,” he said. “I think it’s because they don’t like the teams Bob Shapiro puts together when he wants to put up a significant defense.” Shapiro, head of Christensen Glaser’s white-collar criminal defense section, is best known for having represented football star O.J. Simpson against criminal charges that he murdered his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman in 1994. O.J. Simpson was acquitted a year later. Mrozek of the U.S. attorney’s office downplayed the significance of the government’s conflict questions. “Whenever we believe that there is a conflict with a lawyer representing a particular client, we always point it out to counsel,” he said. “In this case, there’s a potential conflict between representing a named partner at a firm while at the same time being a partner at the firm because the two interests theoretically could diverge,” Mrozek added.

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