Updated news on the Gambino, Genovese, Bonanno, Lucchese and Colombo Organized Crime Families of New York City.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Mob informant's ex-wife's new lawyer sues old lawyers, saying their tactics left her penniless

Eileen Kasman says she paid $550,000 to a Boca Raton law firm that promised to milk her former mobster husband for everything he had.
Not surprisingly, after finking on his former associates in the Gambino crime family and being taken into protective custody by the FBI, Lewis Kasman's fortunes had run dry, her new lawyer said last week.
Having given her divorce lawyers the cash she made when she and her husband sold their house in suburban Boca Raton, Eileen Kasman is now in living in Long Island with her parents, collecting food stamps. She is unable to sustain herself and her three children on the $1 a year in alimony that was ordered or the roughly $400 she gets monthly in child support for the one daughter who is still at home.
"To me that's the same thing as stealing," attorney Bennett Cohn said of the raw deal Eileen Kasman got in the divorce.
In a lawsuit filed last week in Palm Beach County Circuit Court, Cohn accuses her former lawyers at the politically connected law firm of Weiss, Handler, Angelos and Cornwell of engaging in "Rambo" or "scorched earth" tactics to get as much money out of Eileen Kasman as possible.
He is seeking $1.6 million - three times the amount he said she paid for legal representation, mainly from firm lawyer, Carol Kartagener.
Henry Handler, a partner in the firm, disputed Cohn's claims. The sometime Democratic powerbroker said his firm charged Kasman less than $200,000. The cost of experts would have added at most another $50,000, he said.
"It's a fantasy," he said of the $550,000 price tag. "I have no idea where that number came from."
He speculated that it included fees charged by New York lawyers, whom he said Eileen hired independently. He declined comment on specific allegations in the lawsuit, saying only they are "ludicrous and false."
Cohn maintained he has a plethora of evidence that says otherwise. While he expressed confidence that his dollar figures are correct, he acknowledged the exact amount will become clear as the case moves through the court.
"I guess we'll find out," he said.
Some of the expenses the firm rang up would be laughable if they weren't so outrageous, he said.
For instance, he said, Kartagener hired a vocational rehabilitation counselor to figure out how Lewis Kasman could earn a living after famously destroying his ties with the Gambino crime family and living with the reality that angry mobsters might kill him for wearing a wire to collect information used for various criminal cases, including the failed prosecution of John Gotti Jr.
"What was this person going to say?" Cohn asked of the vocational counselor. "This retired snitch for the federal government who used to be involved with the Gotti family can now earn 'X' amount of dollars a month doing thus and so. Are you going to hire him?"
Cohn voiced similar disdain for the decision to pay an accountant more than $20,000 to unearth an alleged "treasure chest" Lewis Kasman supposedly stashed away. Even if the accountant had found buried cash, which he didn't, the money wouldn't have gone to Eileen. Knowing that the Lewis got rich working for the late mob boss John Gotti Sr., government officials would have snared any cash that was uncovered, he said.
"At some point the light needs to go on and it never went on in this case," Cohn said. "They were looking for a pot of gold that didn't exist."
Kasman, the self-proclaimed adopted son of John Gotti Sr., was well-compensated for his government work. An FBI agent testified in 2009 that Kasman was paid $12,000 a month - $144,000 annually - from 2005 to 2007. By the time his work and his divorce was winding down, Kasman said he earned $250 a month and his mother footed the cost of his divorce. Now living in an undisclosed location, protected by retired U.S. Navy Seals, he said he survives on the advance he got for a tell-all book.
Eileen Kasman's lawsuit is one of several spawned from the tortuous case of Kasman vs. Kasman. After the divorce was final in 2009, Lewis Kasman sued two of his former lawyers, Barry Roderman and Lewis Shafer. He claimed they didn't represent him properly because of their relationships with Weiss Handler. Both lawsuits have been settled for undisclosed amounts, Kasman and attorneys said.
During the protracted divorce that chewed through at least five judges, Lewis Kasman accused one of them - Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Martin Colin - of failing to reveal his ties to the firm. Weiss Handler briefly represented Colin's wife in her divorce from a previous husband. While Colin had been ordered by the Fourth District Court of Appeal to tell litigants who came before him about his wife's connection to the firm, he didn't tell Lewis Kasman.
Colin was only involved in the Kasman divorce for a short time but made a significant decision. He sent Lewis Kasman to jail for nine days for violating a previous judge's order to pay child support. Later, it was discovered no written order existed. The contempt order was overturned by another judge who ruled Kasman had no ability to pay.
Ultimately, Colin recused himself from hearing the Kasman divorce case but not before Lewis Kasman filed complaints with the Judicial Qualifications Commission. The state agency that oversees the conduct of judges didn't take any action.
Cohn said attorneys at Weiss Handler should have divulged their relationship with Colin as well. He called the law firm's actions "outrageous" and "scandalous."
"If you can't trust your lawyer, who can you trust?" he said.



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