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Bailey In Prison in Battle of Wills

March 8, 1996 GMT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) _ F. Lee Bailey spent the first day of a six-month sentence in jail Thursday in a clash of wills with the government over $25 million in stock from a drug-dealer client.

Bailey’s attorney said he was trying to get the famed lawyer released, although no new hearings were set by the judge who jailed Bailey for contempt Wednesday after he failed to turn over the disputed stock.

``We’re hopeful he’ll be out shortly,″ his attorney, Roger Zuckerman, said Wednesday. Zuckerman didn’t return phone calls Thursday.

Attorney Bill Bailey, who is Bailey’s brother and partner in a Boston law firm, said Thursday that his brother was confident of being freed within a few days. He added that his brother’s colleagues were trying to raise the money to free him.

Bailey’s partner, Ken Fishman, accused prosecutors Thursday of ``egregious overreaching ... wrongfully jailing Mr. Bailey.″

Bailey, 62, was housed in an individual cell for a screening period all inmates go through to determine if they pose a threat to _ or are in danger from _ other inmates, prison spokesman Tony Kelly said.

After that period, which can last several days, he will be moved to one of the facility’s regular two-man cells, Kelly said.

Kelly wouldn’t comment Thursday on what meetings or calls Bailey had during his first full day behind bars.

U.S. District Judge Maurice Paul had given Bailey until 5 p.m. Wednesday to come up with $2.3 million needed to get the disputed stock released by a Swiss bank or begin serving the sentence for contempt.

Bailey has said he hoped to raise the money rapidly. But if an article in The New Yorker is any indication, he may be prepared to wait. ``Hell, I’d do six months standing on my head for $10 million,″ the magazine quoted him as saying several weeks ago.

The 400,000 shares of stock in Biochem Pharma, a Canadian company, once belonged to Claude Duboc, a drug dealer Bailey represented.

It is being held by Credit Suisse, which won’t release it unless Bailey pays off a lien he took out on the stock. Duboc, who pleaded guilty to drug charges in 1994 and awaits sentencing, fired Bailey last month.

Bailey, whose clients have included the Boston Strangler, Patty Hearst and Dr. Sam Sheppard, contends the assets were for his fee and expenses. Prosecutors claim that most of the money belongs to the government because Duboc forfeited his assets as part of a plea bargain.


Attorneys elsewhere added sympathetic words.

``Big-time lawyers get into big-time problems,″ said Gregg Jarrett, an anchor on the nationally syndicated television show ``Court TV: Inside America’s Courts.″ Bailey had valid arguments and wasn’t convicted of a crime, Jarrett said. ``He violated a court order, which isn’t a crime in itself.″

But former client Hearst wasn’t too upset.

``It may seem small of me but I had a good laugh,″ Hearst said on the syndicated news magazine program ``American Journal.″ Hearst has previously accused Bailey of showing more interest in a book deal than her unsuccessful 1976 defense on bank robbery charges after her abduction by a radical group.