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When it comes to imprisoned superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, Greenberg Traurig has a history of getting stuck with the tab. At least, that’s how it often worked out until the firm cut a deal with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas earlier this month. The tribe had sued Abramoff and several others in a federal court in Texas, claiming they took part in a scheme that shut down the tribe’s casino. But Greenberg managed to avoid being named in the case. And when the law and lobbying firm settled with the tribe, the agreement did not include two high-profile defendants in the case, former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed and former Abramoff associate Michael Scanlon. The firm’s not saying much about the settlement, and how much it paid is confidential. “Our firm is pleased to have concluded a settlement to the satisfaction of both parties,” Jill Perry, a spokeswoman for Greenberg, wrote in an e-mail statement. The settlement comes just as the Abramoff probe appears to be picking up steam again. Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.) stepped down from the House Appropriations Committee on April 19 after his house was raided by federal investigators. Doolittle’s former aide, Kevin Ring, resigned from his lobbying practice at Barnes & Thornburg on April 13. And Mark Zachares, a former aide to Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), pleaded guilty on April 24 to one count of conspiracy. As part of the plea, Zachares admitted to engaging in official acts on Abramoff’s behalf. Last July, the Alabama-Coushatta tribe filed suit in the U.S District Court for the Western District of Texas alleging that Abramoff; Reed; Scanlon; Neil Volz, a former aide to convicted Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio); and Jon van Horne, a former Greenberg lobbyist, engaged in fraud and racketeering. None of the parties in the suit worked for the Alabama-Coushatta tribe. The tribe, which didn’t specify damages in court documents, wanted to recoup revenue it lost since it was forced to close its casino in Polk County, Texas, in 2002. The tribe alleged that Abramoff and his associates conspired to defeat a 2001 bill in the Texas Legislature that would have allowed the casino to operate despite a federal court ruling in a case filed by then-Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, who is now a Republican U.S. senator. Greenberg was not named as a defendant in the suit because it was already in settlement talks with the tribe, confirms the tribe’s lawyer, Frederick Petti of Lewis and Roca. Petti says settlement negotiations between Greenberg and the Alabama-Coushatta tribe became serious in January. Others who took part in the talks in the District and Texas include officials from the tribe, Greenberg President and CEO Cesar Alvarez, and Greenberg’s lawyers, Kevin Downey and Clint Narver of Williams & Connolly. The tribe dropped its claims against Scanlon in March and against the other parties on April 10, citing the settlement agreement with Greenberg. “As parties fulfilled their obligations under the settlement agreement, we began to dismiss the underlying lawsuit,” Petti says. Scanlon paid an undisclosed amount. “He’s extremely pleased with the settlement,” says Stephen Braga of Baker Botts, Scanlon’s counsel. Reed did not pay the tribe any money in his settlement, according to his lawyer, David Ventker of Ventker & Warman. “We took the position from the very beginning that the claims against Ralph Reed were meritless,” Ventker says. “The bottom line is, the tribe dropped the claims against Ralph.” The tribe says it will now focus on working at the state and federal level for a legislative fix that would allow it to reopen the shuttered casino. Last May the tribe hired D.C. firm Parry, Romani, DeConcini & Symms to work on the case. Whether Greenberg will enjoy similar success in settling remaining Abramoff-related disputes is an open question. The Louisiana Coushatta tribe, a former Abramoff client, is seeking more than $30 million in damages from Greenberg, Abramoff, and Scanlon. In 2005, Greenberg settled with the Saginaw Chippewa tribe of Michigan, for more than $10 million, and with the Tigua tribe of El Paso, Texas. The terms of that settlement are not known.
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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