08/10/2007 12:00AM

Fen-phen lawyers jailed


Three Lexington, Ky., attorneys accused of fraud in a settlement of a diet-drug case were put in jail on Friday as a result of having their criminal trial delayed. Two of the lawyers are part-owners of this year's Preakness, winner Curlin.

U.S. District Court Judge William Bertelsman jailed Melbourne Mills Jr., Shirley Cunningham Jr., and William Gallion after agreeing to a request to move the criminal trial from Oct. 15 until January after a short hearing on Friday. Bertelsman said that as a condition of delaying the trial he would revoke the lawyers' bonds.

Cunningham and Gallion own a 20 percent share in Curlin, who last weekend finished third in the Haskell Invitational.

All three lawyers - who were suspended by the Kentucky bar last year - have been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The indictment alleges that the three illegally took $64 million from a $200 million settlement in 2001 with the manufacturers of the diet-drug combination fen-phen.

In addition to the criminal charges, the lawyers have been sued by their former plaintiffs in the fen-phen settlement. Last week, another U.S. District Court judge agreed to delay a civil trial until the criminal trial was complete.