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F. Lee Bailey Ordered to Jail for Contempt for Refusing Surrender of Drug Dealer's Assets


April 1996

F. Lee Bailey, the criminal defense lawyer famous for his representation of high profile defendants such as Sam Sheppard, O.J. Simpson, and Patty Hearst, reported to jail March 6 to serve time for not turning over the assets of a drug dealer he represented (Ira Silverman and Fredric Dannen, "A Complicated Life," New Yorker, March 11, 1996, p. 44; Tom Curley, "F. Lee Bailey, in the Slammer," USA Today, March 7, 1996, p. 3A; Bill Bergstrom, "Bailey Goes to Jail Over Stocks," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 7, 1996, p. A2).

Bailey represented Claude Duboc in 1994 against federal charges of running a marijuana and hashish trafficking organization that netted $165 million every year. Duboc pleaded guilty and is now awaiting sentencing. With the agreement of the U.S. Attorney's Office, he gave Bailey 400,000 shares of stock in the Canadian corporation Biochem Pharma and other assets as payment for his services. The stock and the assets are now worth about $25 million. Duboc fired Bailey in February.

A judge ordered Bailey to turn the stock over to the government, but Bailey said he did not have the $2.3 million he needed to pay a Swiss holding company to release the assets. Judge Ed Carnes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit said Bailey was "clutching, clawing and scraping to keep" the stocks.

A district court judge ordered Bailey to serve a six-month sentence for contempt of court.