COVINGTON, Ky. (AP) - A former legal assistant for one of three lawyers accused of defrauding their clients in a diet-drug settlement testified Friday that her boss was too drunk to know what was going on.
Rebecca Phipps worked for Melbourne Mills Jr., who along with co-defendants Shirley Cunningham Jr. and William Gallion have been accused of taking $65 million they were not entitled to receive from the $200 million settlement of a lawsuit over the now-banned diet drug fen-phen.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported Friday that Phipps testified that Mills would struggle with tremors when he wasn't drinking. Mills' attorneys claim his alcoholism prevented him from knowing that anything illegal was happening.
Phipps also testified that Mills believed Gallion and Cunningham tried to cheat him out of an equal share of the legal fees.
Defense lawyers attacked Phipps' credibility on cross-examination. Phipps, who was paid $1.4 million for her work on the settlement, has received immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony. Phipps also turned over documents she was supposed to destroy.
Cunningham and Gallion are part owners of the racehorse Curlin, last year's Preakness winner and Horse of the Year. A judge has ordered that Cunningham and Gallion's $3.5 million ownership share and winnings go into a trust for eventual payment to the more than 400 plaintiffs who won a $43 million settlement in a civil lawsuit against the attorneys.