By Matthew Hendley
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Monica Alonzo
By Stephen Lemons
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Dulce Paloma Baltazar Pedraza
By Ray Stern
"Then Robert pulled Derrick outside and said, 'Look, if we get this done, there'll be an $85,000 reenactment deal, and it'll be $10,000 here.'"
They refused. Stant maintains that "Robert came up with, 'Well, if we do this, we'll get the money and you won't owe us any more.'"
Stant and Smith left, and the cameras packed up. Hard Copy would not comment on whether the encounter took place.
"Maybe it's their imagination," Silvert counters. "The only thing we ever told them was to tell the truth, and that's it." But he offers as explanation his understanding that Tonya was in the house during the second meeting, if not in the room where it took place.
As for the $85,000 reenactment, Merrill suggests Stant and Smith were trying to make freelance deals. "I think they were trying to cut us out of the loop," he says.
Stant claims he would not perform a reenactment in any case. "I couldn't say, 'I made a mistake, now give me 85 grand and I'll do it again.' When I did it, it was easier because I didn't have to see her. Then, when I got back to the hotel and saw her crying on TV, I thought she didn't deserve that."
While in Oregon awaiting sentencing, Stant picked up a copy of Easy Rider magazine and found an article that said his 1955 Harley-Davidson motorcycle had been purchased by a Phoenix motorcycle shop. He was more than a little surprised because, he claims, he had not intended to sell it.
Lance Thomas, Leslie's brother, alleges that Silvert approached him about the bike, and said it would be prudent to hide it in case the government tried to confiscate it under provisions of racketeering law.
"The only thing we did was follow through on a request to sell his motorcycle to pay legal fees," Silvert says.
He got $3,500 for the bike as partial down payment for the $5,000 his contract called for. Fred Merrill admits he was, in fact, concerned that if charges were filed related to Stant's alleged drug transaction with Eckardt and Gillooly, the bike would be taken.
And so Merrill took it. "[Silvert] had me take it to a place that was going to hold it," Lance Thomas says, and so he put it in Suzanne Smith's truck and drove it to a bailbondsman's office in Phoenix. Thomas delivered the title to Silvert, and he and Stant both maintain that it was unsigned. (Stant's new lawyer, Michael Fairbairn, says that it was signed, but not notarized in Stant's presence.)
However, David Fulcher of Highway Choppers in Glendale, who served as a middleman in the sale, says, "It had a clear title, notarized, with Shane Stant's signature on it." And among the papers filed in Merrill's lawsuit is a copy of a Montana title that had been issued to Stant's uncle, Scott Loomis, signed over to Stant and, indeed, bearing a signature that appears to be Stant's.
@body:In a letter dated March 30, Shane Stant requested that Merrill provide him with accounts of hours and expenses relating to his case and also an itemization of monies received from the media. He indicated in the letter that he had requested such accounts on five earlier occasions. Stant and Smith filed a formal complaint with the Arizona State Bar.
Merrill says he planned to document everything for the bar, that he requested fee arbitration from the bar, and that Stant and Smith refused that request in order to make false allegations.
"Criminal attorneys call it being gooned," says Merrill, and he contends that Stant and Smith turned bitter because their marketability was waning.
Others came to different conclusions. Robert Goffredi, the Portland attorney who first handled the case, characterizes Merrill and Silvert as "everyone's nightmare of sleazy lawyers. If he wanted to do publicity for them, he should have gotten them to sign an agent's contract, not claim to do legal work."
Shortly after New Times contacted Merrill, he and Silvert made a legal strike on their accusers by filing a lawsuit against Stant and Smith charging breach of contract, civil extortion and false light--namely, making allegations to New Times. In their accounting of monies relating to Stant and Smith, they claimed revenues received of $83,500, less expenses of $42,363--including $10,000 to the two Oregon defense attorneys who actually handled the case, $2,000 each to Stant and Smith and $7,500 each to Leslie Thomas and to Smith's wife. Merrill charged $40,050 for his and Silvert's fee; the suit demands an additional balance of $26,500 and damages to be determined by the court. The $20,000 yet to be collected from the 900 number, Merrill says, will be put into the hands of the court pending the outcome of his suit.
"That accounting doesn't mean anything," scoffs Stant's and Smith's new Phoenix attorney, Michael Fairbairn. "Forty thousand dollars in legal fees? He was off the case in a week."
Fairbairn points out that the original agreement Merrill made with Stant and Smith was to be their criminal defense attorney, not their agent. It is worth noting that the Oregon attorneys who ultimately handled the criminal cases for Stant and Smith were both paid flat fees of $10,000, far less than the $55,000 each called for in Merrill's contracts.