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Two years ago, New York City-based sports agent Eric Fleisher accused Miami Beach, Fla.-based talent agency Creation Management of stealing away a host of its National Basketball Association clients by promising the hoopsters “romantic liaisons” with models from the famed Wilhelmina modeling agency in Miami Beach. The defections of players such as Kevin Garnett of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Al Harrington of the Indiana Pacers, and then-Miami Heat forward Harold Jamison reduced Fleisher from super-agent status to that of a bit player in the athlete representation game. In a lawsuit filed in late 1999 in New York Supreme Court, a fuming Fleisher alleged that Creation Management and Andy Miller, who formerly worked with Fleisher but moved to Creation, had engaged in breach of contract and a “tortious scheme to defraud” him. He made his allegations �- essentially that Creation Management was engaged in pimping — not only in the lawsuit but in a news release that was picked up by newspapers across the country. In December, Creation Management responded by suing Fleisher, his attorneys, and his public relations firm in Miami-Dade Circuit Court for defamation, claiming the firm lost $214 million in business deals due to the bad publicity. That suit has since been removed to U.S. District Court in Miami. Now, Fleisher has accused Creation Management attorney Richard Wolfe of witness tampering in the defamation suit. Wolfe, a prominent Miami entertainment attorney, in turn, has filed a motion to get Fleisher’s Miami law firm, Hunton & Williams, disqualified from the case on the grounds that a Hunton attorney had inside knowledge of Creation Management’s legal strategy from working with Wolfe at his previous law firm. Early this month, Fleisher’s attorneys, partner Thomas R. Julin and associate Elisha L. Anagnostis of Hunton & Williams in Miami, filed an emergency motion accusing Wolfe, a partner at Miami’s Pathman Lewis, of offering to settle a separate Miami-Dade lawsuit brought by Creation Management against a potential witness if that witness agreed to provide favorable testimony in Creation’s defamation suit against Fleisher. “This is a desperate motion by a desperate law firm facing a serious charge,” says Wolfe. The law firm to which he was referring is Davidoff & Malito in New York City, which is a defendant in the defamation suit in Miami. Wolfe blames Davidoff & Malito for publicizing the pimping allegations. Julin declined to comment on the issue of disqualification, but said a court response to Wolfe’s motion is forthcoming. The potential witness referred to in the tampering motion is Bill Ciosek, a New York Internet entrepreneur who was involved in deals with Creation Management COO Brad L. Krassner. Ciosek is considered a key witness, Julin says, because he may have knowledge about how Creation Management lured away the players gained from conversations with Krassner. Julin’s witness-tampering motion, which seeks an emergency hearing, argues that Wolfe’s conduct could constitute a third-degree felony. At the very least, it justifies a default judgment in the defamation case against Wolfe’s client, Creation Management, Julin contended. U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan of the Southern District of Florida, who is presiding over the case, has ordered Wolfe to respond to the allegation and to Julin’s request for an emergency hearing by today. ‘NEVER ASKED TO LIE’ The witness-tampering motion raises the question of whether there is anything illegal or improper about what Julin accuses Wolfe of doing. Much depends on whether Wolfe asked Ciosek to tell the truth or fudge, says former Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerald Kogan. “If the witness testifies to the truth, there is not a problem with it,” Kogan says. “But if you ask the witness to slant the testimony [in exchange for settling a separate case], there is a problem.” Wolfe insists that Ciosek was never asked to lie. In a written statement to the Daily Business Review, Roger Slade, Wolfe’s partner at Pathman Lewis and co-counsel on the case, vigorously denied the allegation of witness tampering and said a response would be filed in federal court today. Meanwhile, Wolfe is firing back at Hunton & Williams by trying to get the firm thrown off the case. On Wednesday, Wolfe filed a motion demanding that Hunton lawyers be disqualified. Wolfe contends that he and Anagnostis worked at the Miami law firm Zack Kosnitzky at the same time. During that time, Wolfe says, he already was representing Creation Management in the Miami case, and Anagnostis participated in discussions about the legal issues and strategies. In his motion, Wolfe specifically alleges that during a meeting at Zack Kosnitzky with Creation COO Krassner, he invited Anagnostis, who at the time was working as the law firm’s human resources director, to offer her input on the employment law issues involved. In October 2001, Wolfe moved from Zack Kosnitzky to Pathman Lewis. Last month, Anagnostis moved to Hunton & Williams. SQUEEZING WITNESS WITH SUIT? In a statement to the Review, Wolfe’s partner, Slade, asserted that the tampering claim is bogus because Ciosek was not offered payment for his testimony. Furthermore, while Wolfe did communicate with Ciosek about writing an affidavit providing testimony, he says, Ciosek was represented by counsel and was given numerous opportunities to review and amend the affidavit. According to documents provided by Wolfe, from May 3 to May 20, Wolfe and Ciosek’s attorney Michael Decker corresponded five times as Ciosek made changes to his affidavit. Wolfe says this demonstrates an effort to make sure Ciosek’s affidavit was accurate and truthful. But, in an interview, Decker, a partner at Persaud & Decker in Coral Gables, Fla., says Wolfe was playing legal hardball. Last December, he contends, Wolfe substituted himself as counsel in a separate Miami-Dade Circuit Court declaratory judgment lawsuit between Creation Management and Ciosek’s company, B.C. Investment Research. The suit, which Decker says had been dormant, involved commission payments in a business deal between Ciosek’s company and Creation. When Wolfe took over the case representing Creation Management, Decker says, he amended the complaint, added fraud and inducement allegations, and fired off numerous interrogatories to Decker. “Wolfe resurrected the case and started squeezing me and my client in this separate case in exchange for testimony in the defamation suit against Fleisher,” Decker says. “He held the sword of Damocles over my client’s head because there is so much at stake in the Fleisher case.” In late May, Decker says, he informed Fleisher’s attorneys about Wolfe’s alleged offer to Ciosek to settle the unrelated lawsuit. That triggered Julin’s witness-tampering allegation against Wolfe. But regardless of what happened between Wolfe and Ciosek, Slade contends, Julin’s allegation is merely a tactic intended to divert attention from the main issue in Creation Management’s suit against Fleisher and his attorneys — whether Fleisher, his lawyers and his PR agency defamed the Miami Beach talent agency and cost it millions of dollars in lost business. Beyond that, it’s unclear whether there’s anything wrong with offering to settle one case in exchange for favorable testimony in another, according to a Miami legal ethics expert. “Every day, the state attorney uses plea bargains [in criminal cases] to get favorable testimony,” says Andrew S. Berman, a partner at Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez in North Miami Beach. “But in civil court it sometimes is a more difficult issue as to what constitutes an improper and unethical inducement.”

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