Jailed Fen-Phen lawyer files new appeal

By Kathy Woods | Apr 9, 2010

JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline)-A jailed plaintiffs' attorney convicted of bilking a pharmaceutical company out of millions of dollars in bogus Fen-Phen medical claims is asking for his convictions to be tossed.

Disgraced lawyer Robert Arledge, 52, of Vicksburg, Miss., said he wants a federal judge to throw out his convictions on seven counts of mail and wire fraud and conspiracy. He was convicted of defrauding American Home Products out of more than $6 million through the scheme.

In a 57-page motion filed recently in Jackson, Arledge said that at trial his criminal defense team was working against his interests, denying him his right to a fair prosecution.

He claims, for instance, that during trial his lead defense counsel, Karl Koch of Baton Rouge, was preoccupied with his wife's then-recent arrest on drug charges.

At trial, federal prosecutors said Arledge knowingly allowed his clients to make claims against American Home Products, now known as Wyeth, of about $25,000 each even though they had no legitimate health problems from taking Fen-Phen, which consisted of fenfluramine and phentermine.

The two-drug medication was pulled from pharmacy shelves in 1997 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after research revealed the anti-obesity medication could lead to heart damage and pulmonary hypertension.

U.S. District Judge David Bramlette of the Southern District of Mississippi sentenced Arledge in 2007 to more than six years in prison and ordered him to pay $5.8 million in restitution.

In December 2008, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld Arledge's convictions. The U.S. Supreme Court in April 2009 declined to hear his appeal.

Arledge is currently housed in the Federal Prison Camp at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala. He is set to be released Oct. 12, 2013.

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