Broward News

Penthouse to the Jailhouse: From His Perch at the Waverly, an Attorney Falls From Grace

Shirley Cunningham Jr., an attorney based in Kentucky but who kept a penthouse apartment in the Waverly condominium in downtown Fort Lauderdale, will spend the next 20 years in a federal prison after being convicted of defrauding clients in a class-action suit against makers of the diet drug fen-phen.

Along with his attorney partner William Gallion, Cunningham appears to have embarked on an epic victory celebration after winning a $200 million judgment eight years ago. The two were sentenced last week, and this article in yesterday's Cincinnati Enquirer offers details about what the judge called "unbridled greed."

Of the two, Gallion may have been a tad more flamboyant, what with his passion for horseracing that led him to the winner's circle next to Preakness champion Curlin.

Despite some $127 million believed to have been raided by the attorneys, the paper reports that Cunningham is so broke now that he's been abandoned by his attorney and will have to rely on a public defender to file his appeal. Like a common thief!

And the article headlined "Heck of a Party" ends on an even crueler note:

For the survivors, there is one source of money the fen-phen users are guaranteed to get.

Gallion and Cunningham must make payments at a minimum of $25 per quarter from what they make working in prison. At that rate, it would take each of them more than 600,000 years to pay off the $127.7 million in restitution.

Not to add to their grief, but the penthouse condo that their attorney bought for nearly $1.4 million in 2005 -- and which will be sold to pay back defrauded clients -- is now worth only $691,000.
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Thomas Francis