CHICAGO (CN) – The Chicago chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police claims the attorneys it hired to defend now-notorious police Cmdr. Jon Burge defrauded it of $200,000 in unauthorized fees for Burge’s appeal.
Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7 sued Greg Bella, Richard Beuke, William Gamboney and Mark Martin, in Cook County Court. Bella is a former vice president of the lodge. Beuke, Gamboney and Martin are attorneys.
The Fraternal Order of Police is a nonprofit group of law enforcement officers, with 2,100 local lodges and more than 325,000 members. It lobbies Congress on behalf of police officers, collectively bargains for wages and terms of employment, and at times, provides legal defense for its members.
Jon Burge, the former Chicago police commander who was convictedof lying about police torture of black suspects between 1970 and 1980, was a member of Lodge 7, the Chicago chapter of FOP. Burge was convicted on June 28, 2010.
“Plaintiff FOP agreed that it would pay all legal fees that were incurred and that would be incurred by Jon Burge in his defense against any and all charges related to the allegation of perjury and witness tampering,” the complaint states.
To represent Burge, the FOP hired Richard Beuke, William Gamboney and Mark Martin, and in June 2010, asked Martin to handle Burge’s appeal. Martin offered to take the case for $60,000, according to the complaint.
“In response to the offer made by defendant Martin … plaintiff FOP issued a counter-offer, agreeing to pay defendant Martin sixty thousand dollars ($60,000.00) to prosecute the Burge appeal, subject to the condition that neither defendant Gamboney nor Beuke would in any way be involved in the appeal. In making this counter-offer, Plaintiff FOP made clear to defendant Martin that plaintiff FOP was dissatisfied with the legal work performed by defendants Beuke and Gamboney, and were further concerned with excessive billing submitted by defendants Beuke and Gamboney,” the complaint states.
But in January 2011, Gamboney submitted an invoice to defendant Bella for legal services on Burge’s appeal, the complaint states.
“Upon receipt of the invoice, authorized to be paid by defendant Bella, former FOP President Mark Donohue inquired of defendant Bella of whether the amount reflected in the invoice was in fact correct and owing. Defendant Bella responded that the legal services reference in the invoice included legal service performed outside the scope of the Burge appeal, bills for which remained outstanding,” the complaint states.
“At no time on or after Jan. 28, 2011, was there any legal services performed by defendant Gamboney for which defendant Gamboney had not been paid,” the complaint states.
The FOP claims that “in submitting the invoice, which included a bill for legal services rendered in the amount of $200,000, defendant Gamboney made a false statement of material fact that $200,000 in legal services had been rendered by him for the benefit of plaintiff FOP.”
The complaint adds: “When he submitted the invoice, defendant Gamboney knew that the invoice reflected legal work which was not contracted for by plaintiff FOP to be performed by defendant Gamboney, which was not performed by defendant Gamboney, and for which no money was due and owing by plaintiff FOP to defendant Gamboney.”
The FOP also claims that “defendant Greg Bella owed a fiduciary duty to plaintiff FOP not to authorize invoices submitted by third parties which were not in fact due and owing by plaintiff FOP.”
The complaint continues: “Defendant Greg Bella, notwithstanding this fiduciary duty, breached this duty in one or more of the following ways:
“a) Authorized the payment of the invoice when he knew or should have known that the legal services referenced therein were not contracted for by plaintiff FOP;
“b) Authorized the payment of the invoice when he knew or should have known that the legal services reference therein were not performed by defendant Gamboney.”
The FOP claims that “by acting in the fashions as hereinabove alleged, defendants Bella, Beuke, Gamboney and Martin sought to accomplish by their concerted action, the unlawful purpose of obtaining moneys for legal services which were not contracted to be performed, were not in fact performed and for which no moneys were due and owing to any defendant by plaintiff FOP.”
The FOP said in a statement: “We demand the highest integrity from lawyers and union officials. It is the Lodge’s contention that the FOP was wrongly billed over $200,000 for an appeal that was supposed to cost $60,000. An audit of past billing is underway. Action will be taken if it is discovered that monies were misspent. No attorneys and no Lodge officers, past or present, will be immune. The Board of Directors of the FOP will fulfill its obligations as your fiduciaries. No exceptions.”
The FOP seeks punitive damages for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract and conspiracy.
It is represented by Richard M. Craig.