NEW ORLEANS – Two weeks after a man serving time in prison on fraud charges was accused of defrauding the Deepwater Horizon claims center of $3 million, the law firm representing him has withdrawn as his counsel.
In late May two Port Arthur, Texas seafood companies, Alliance & Associates LLC and Crystal Seafood Company, were accused of filing fraudulent claims with the BP settlement fund worth a combined $3.16 million. According to special master Louis Freeh and settlement administrator Patrick Juneau the companies had been out of business prior to the 2010 Gulf oil spill and should not have been eligible for claims payments.
Court documents revealed at the time the claims were made that Victor Tran, the owner of both companies, was actually imprisoned on a fraud conviction for making false statements in order to receive rebuilding money from the U.S. Small Business Administration after Hurricane Rita struck Texas in 2005. It appears Alliance & Associates LLC and Crystal Seafood Company actually went out of business due to Tran’s imprisonment.
Nearly two weeks after the revelation, Faegre Baker Daniels, the Minneapolis, Minn.-based law firm that handled Tran’s claims, pulled its representation of Tran and his companies. Before the accusations against Tran and his businesses were entered into court, the law firm had returned $533,000 in legal fees that it had accepted for handling the claims.
This is not the first time Faegre Baker Daniels has been connected to a fraudulent claim. At least four Faegre Baker Daniels clients have been accused of fraud in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to court records, the firm has returned a combined $792,032.21 in legal fees for claims which court officials have deemed fraudulent.
Faegre Baker Daniels has declined to comment on the case citing a company policy of not commenting on pending litigation.