Louisiana Record

Monday, September 16, 2019

Attorneys banned from representing Deepwater Horizon return legal fees on fraudulent claim

By Louisiana Record reports | Jul 2, 2015

NEW ORLEANS – Two attorneys who banded together to form a law firm specializing in Deepwater Horizon claims in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf oil spill have repaid legal fees they received as part of a fraudulent claim that began an in-depth investigation into the claims program.

Glen Lerner and Jonathan Andry, of the New Orleans-based Andry Lerner law firm, have returned $36,594.91 to the Deepwater Horizon claims facility nearly two years after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier appointed ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh to root out fraud in the claims program.

Freeh’s appointment by the court began with a massive investigation into fraud involving Andry Lerner client Casey Thonn. Thonn pled guilty to wire fraud last fall and is currently awaiting sentencing for falsifying his income and providing fake tax documents as part of his claim.

Thonn’s claim was part of a bigger issue when Lerner was found to have provided a secretive referral fee to Lionel “Tiger” Sutton III who had previously represented him before being hired by claims administrator Patrick Juneau to work in the claims center. While Freeh accused Andry and Lerner of providing the payment to Sutton in an attempt to unduly influence him, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s ruling on the matter earlier this year was less harsh finding the attorneys “engag[ed] in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentation.” As a result, Barbier banned them from providing further representation of any Deepwater Horizon claimants.

Shortly after the ruling Sutton paid back the referral fee he received. In contrast, the Andry Lerner law firm appealed Barbier’s clawback order requiring them to return legal fees in the Thonn matter saying the order was outside of his authority. Andy Lerner also argued they were unaware that the claim was fraudulent, and they should not have to return the legal fees they received as a result of their work.

Although it is not reflected in the court docket, Andry Lerner apparently dropped that appeal when they repaid the legal fees.

Following the repayment, Barbier issued a ruling stating that Andry Lerner was no longer required to make restitution to the court.

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