Celebrity Attorney Robert Shapiro Settles in Scam Case

High-profile celebrity attorney Robert L. Shapiro has settled a lawsuit accusing him of siphoning money from a $90 million death futures scam that one of his clients ran.

Shapiro, whose clients have included O.J. Simpson and Christian Brando, reached the settlement Tuesday with attorney Barry A. Fisher, who was assigned to recoup the investors' losses from the scam.

Terms of the settlement, which was reached as jury selection was about to start in the civil case, were confidential. Fisher had been seeking at least $3.5 million.

Shapiro's attorney, Thomas Girardi, did not immediately return a call Wednesday from The Associated Press.

In 1997, Shapiro represented David W. Laing, the owner of Personal Choice Opportunities Inc. in Palm Springs, which purportedly allowed the terminally ill to sell their insurance policies at less than face value so they could use the money while they were alive.

Personal Choice promised investors in the company 25 percent returns, but authorities said the insurance policies never existed.

Laing pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities and mail fraud and served eight years in federal prison before his release a few months ago.

Fisher, who was appointed by the court to reclaim the investors' money, filed suit in 2001 accusing Shapiro of arranging for up to 12 bags, each filled with $500,000, to be taken from Laing's home in April 1997 so the defendant could post bail.

Fisher claimed in the lawsuit that Shapiro also took at least $200,000 of that money for attorney fees — although he should have known that the money was "illegally and fraudulently obtained."

Shapiro denied any wrongdoing, saying he had acquired the money from the sale of Laing's home and that his payment had been approved by a federal judge.

Fisher said outside court he has recovered much of the $90 million for investors, but about $15 million remains unaccounted for.