Court Clears Way For F. Lee Bailey to Go to Jail
ATLANTA (AP) _ A federal appeals court cleared the way Tuesday for F. Lee Bailey to be jailed as soon as a district judge gives the go-ahead for failing to turn over millions in cash and stock from a drug-dealer client.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the temporary order it had issued Thursday granting Bailey a reprieve on the eve of his contempt sentence.
It sent the case back to District Court Judge Maurice Paul in Ocala, Fla. Paul had ordered Bailey jailed, instructing him to decide where and when Bailey will go to begin his sentence.
Paul didn’t immediately respond to messages left at his office and home after-hours Tuesday. But Chief Deputy Marshal Ron Wierenga of the U.S. Marshal’s service said Paul should decide Bailey’s fate Wednesday.
Bailey says his former client gave him the assets _ $3 million in cash and $18.7 million in stock, which Bailey said Tuesday is now worth $25 million _ for legal fees and expenses in a drug-trafficking case.
Prosecutors claim most of it belongs to the government as part of the forfeiture the drug dealer agreed to in a plea bargain, and that Bailey was supposed to take only fees and expenses and then turn over the rest.
The courts have not settled that dispute, though the appeals judges on Tuesday promised an expedited hearing on the matter. Paul had ordered Bailey to post the money and stock by Friday pending a resolution of the dispute.
The appellate court ruled after a hearing at which Bailey’s attorney, Roger E. Zuckerman, argued that his client had satisfied part of Paul’s order, including handing over more than $700,000 in cash.
Bailey also has offered to pledge all of his $4.5 million in assets, ``the ultimate act of submission,″ Zuckerman told Judges J.L. Edmundson, Phyllis Kravich and Ed Carnes.
Carnes was unimpressed, saying Bailey’s actions ``really give the appearance of dragging it out,″ with Bailey ``clutching and clawing and grasping″ to keep the money.
After the hearing, but before the ruling was issued, Bailey said he raised the $700,000 from friends, and expected to have the remaining $2.3 million in cash by the end of the week.
``I have meetings all day tomorrow and Thursday and Friday,″ Bailey said. ``I hope to have it done rapidly.″