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Prosecutor: Jail F. Lee Bailey

March 24, 1999

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ A federal prosecutor says lawyer F. Lee Bailey is keeping $2 million that a client owes the government, and should be held in contempt if he doesn’t turn it over.

Bailey says the money was his legal fee, and most of it was spent defending his client.

The last time he fought such a claim, he lost and spent 43 days in prison until he paid up.

In court documents filed earlier this month, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie DeMarco alleges Bailey is in contempt of court for keeping some of the money a jury ordered forfeited by imprisoned real estate pitchman William J. McCorkle.

``I’m not in contempt of anything,″ Bailey said from his Palm Beach County home. ``I’m not holding any money that is subject to the forfeiture order.″

McCorkle and his wife were convicted of 151 fraud, money laundering and other counts in a get-rich-quick scheme. They were sentenced to 24 years in prison each, and jurors ordered them to forfeit $10.6 million in assets, including the $2 million set aside for McCorkle’s lawyers.

Bailey said the government is trying to keep him from handling McCorkle’s appeal, and that all but $110,000 of the $2 million legal fund was spent on legal fees and expenses in the case.

McCorkle became a familiar face to viewers of late-night television with infomercials in which he told how he had gone from a childhood of poverty to a real-estate millionaire with a yacht, a luxury home and a helicopter. Prosecutors said he and his wife swindled customers with videotapes, books and seminars promising no debts, lower taxes and early retirement.

In 1996, Bailey was jailed for 43 days in a dispute over $16 million in stock seized from a man who was convicted of drug charges. Bailey claimed he was given the stock as legal fees, while the government contended it was part of the forfeiture. Bailey is still trying to recoup his attorney’s fees.

Bailey gained fame early in his career by representing Dr. Sam Sheppard, who case inspired ``The Fugitive,″ and Albert DeSalvo, who claimed he was the Boston Strangler. More recently, he was on the team that defended O.J. Simpson.

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