A lawsuit claims that veteran Dayton, Tn., attorney Arnold Fitzgerald assisted in an Internet scam that cost an 84-year-old man between $400,000 and $500,000.
The suit, filed by Chattanooga attorney Hoyt Samples, says attorney Fitzgerald used undue influence over client George Lambert by inducing him to invest large sums in a scheme that promised a $150 million payoff after certain upfront money was paid.
The complaint was filed in Chancery Court in Rhea County. However, judges there have recused themselves and the case will be handled in Hamilton County.
The suit says attorney Fitzgerald convinced Mr. Lambert to continue to pay large sums "though he knew that the purported investments at issue were scams."
It says attorney Fitzgerald has been an attorney in Rhea County for over 40 years. Mr. Lambert lived for an extended time in Rhea County, but is now residing in Bradley County.
The suit says Mr. Lambert came to trust attorney Fitzgerald and rely on his advice.
It says he agreed to start making payments to a fund called "The Mint" that attorney Fitzgerald said originated in Africa, but had been moved to London. A person who went by the name Donald Brindley was the alleged facilitator in the scheme. The suit lists several documents with his name and the name of attorney Fitzgerald on them.
The complaint says the documents have a number of misspellings and are obvious frauds. Mr. Lambert was told to send money to obtain a "Diplomatic Money Laundering Certificate" and more money for an "Anti-Terrorism Certificate." Attorney Samples said there are no such certificates.
The suit says attorney Fitzgerald advised Mr. Lambert "this is a great investment and he would receive a substantial return on his investment."
The complaint asks that attorney Fitzgerald repay Mr. Lambert all he has "invested" plus interest.
It also seeks $1 million in punitive damages.
Click here to read the lawsuit.