Friday, February 12, 1999

Lawyer agrees to plead guilty

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A semiretired Northern Kentucky lawyer agreed Thursday to plead guilty to mail fraud in a dispute over prorating payments to his client's physicians.

        Laurence W. Grause, in his late 50s, is to enter his plea before U.S. District Judge Herman J. Weber on Feb. 22.

        “The United States feels that Larry's statements overstepped the bounds for lawyers in the negotiations,” defense attorney Robert W. Carran said.

        A charge filed by U.S. Attorney Sharon Zealey said Mr. Grause and another lawyer, unnamed, won a $318,000 settlement for Randall T. Diem in a Cincinnati medical malpractice suit.

        Ms. Zealey said the lawyers shared $68,000, and $25,000 was allocated to pay Mr. Diem's medical bills.

        Rather than compensate Mr. Diem's medical-care providers fully, Ms. Zealey said, Mr. Grause sent them letters saying $8,915 was available and lawyers took no fees.

        Based on those assertions, Ms. Zealey said, Mr. Grause asked the providers to accept 19 percent of what they were owed.

        Mr. Grause agreed to plead guilty to mailing one of those physicians' letters rather than face a grand jury and the possibility of further charges.

        Defense attorney Carran said Mr. Diem initially allocated $25,000 to pay medical bills, then changed his mind and “authorized only the lower amount.”

        Mail fraud carries a maximum of five years and as little as probation, depending on the amount involved and whether the defendant has a criminal record.

        In the plea agreement negotiated by Mr. Carran and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ralph W. Kohnen, Mr. Grause agreed to aid the government's continuing investigation.

        If Mr. Grause keeps his word, Mr. Kohnen said, he would tell Judge Weber about Mr. Grause's “substantial assistance in the investigation or prosecution of others.”

        To date, no one else has been charged.

        Mr. Grause could not be reached for comment. A brother said Mr. Grause, who has a Covington address, now lives Florida.


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