Freeh asks judge to rescind oil spill award
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A former FBI director investigating alleged misconduct inside the settlement program for compensating victims of BP’s 2010 Gulf oil spill has concluded that a claimant at the center of the investigation was awarded more than $357,000 based on fraudulent information.
In a court filing late Wednesday, Louis Freeh recommended that a federal judge rescind the award to Casey C. Thonn and order any lawyer who profited from the settlement to pay restitution.
“In filing claims with the Deepwater Horizon Economic Claims Center, Mr. Thonn presented false information and documents, including tax ‘returns’ that in fact had never been filed with the Internal Revenue Service,” the filing said.
The claims center paid Thonn the money “based upon these false documents and Mr. Thonn’s misrepresentation of his 2009 shrimping income,” the filing said.
Freeh asked the court to order Thonn and any lawyers who benefited to pay back the money they received.
Lionel “Tiger” Sutton III, a lawyer whose resignation from the staff of claims administrator Patrick Juneau spawned the investigation, urged U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier last month to throw out a scathing report that Freeh issued in September. The report concluded that top members of Juneau’s staff, including Sutton, engaged in improper, unethical and possibly criminal conduct.
Freeh’s report also accused two private attorneys, Glen Lerner and Jon Andry, of using Sutton’s position in the settlement program to benefit their clients’ claims. In return, the report said, Sutton received more than $40,000 in fees for referring a claimant to their law firm before he joined Juneau’s staff.
Thonn and his attorneys, Lerner and Andry, received more than $357,000 for his seafood claims. About $35,700 of those fees were transferred as a referral fee to Sutton.
Andry referred questions about Freeh’s filing to his attorney, who did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. One of Lerner’s lawyers also did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.