NJ accuses Holocaust lawyer of misusing money from two clients
NEWARK, N.J. — A lawyer who helped win billions of dollars for thousands of Holocaust victims has been accused by an attorney ethics panel of misusing money from two of those clients.
Edward Fagan, who gained worldwide attention for his role in litigation against Swiss banks and German corporations, could face sanctions up to disbarment if the charges are upheld.
“He stabbed me right in the back,” said Gizella Weisshaus, 75, who survived the Auschwitz death camp. “I supported him. He used me. He used my money.”
Efforts to reach Fagan for comment were unsuccessful. Several newspapers reported they could not contact him by phone or at his home on Monday. Fagan on Tuesday was no longer reachable at numbers he has used in the past. He has until February to respond to the charges brought by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.
The ethics office, part of the state Supreme Court, charged last month that Fagan misused $400,000 from Estelle Sapir and Weisshaus, of Brooklyn, N.Y., the initial plaintiff in the 1996 Swiss bank case. It became a class-action case and was settled in 1998 for $1.25 billion.
Fagan later was among lawyers who won billions from German corporations. He has since sued seeking money for suffering under South African apartheid and American slavery.
The attorney ethics office accused Fagan of draining Weisshaus’ trust account, then seeking to replace the money with funds from the settlement he had won for Sapir. The complaint also charged that he wrote checks to cash on Sapir’s account and transferred the money to business accounts.
Copyright © 2005, The Associated Press