Top court disbars Arledge

Published 12:04 pm Monday, November 1, 2010

Vicksburg attorney Robert Arledge, who lost his license to practice law in Mississippi after he was convicted of mail and wire fraud in 2007, is now barred from practicing law before the nation’s high court.

The Supreme Court issued the disbarment order this morning. The court had suspended Arledge in July.

Arledge was convicted in federal court in 2007 for swindling a pharmaceutical company out of millions over the diet drug Fen-Phen. He was sentenced to six years for his role in the scheme, which netted more than $6 million from the drug company Wyeth.

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The U.S. Supreme Court denied his appeal in 2009.

Fen-Phen was a prescription diet drug that was pulled from the market in 1997 after research revealed it could cause heart problems.

Arledge was suspended from practicing law in Mississippi in 2008.

Arledge has served 3 1/2 years of a six-year prison sentence at the Montgomery (Ala.) Federal Prison Camp at Maxwell Air Force Base for his role in tort claims over the diet drug Fen-Phen.

Prosecutors in the criminal case said Arledge, 53, knowingly presented false claims on behalf of ineligible clients to a settlement fund set up after the Food and Drug Administration pulled the drug from the market in 1997.

Arledge, then an associate of the Richard Schwartz firm in Jackson, was one of several lawyers paid millions in fees from the drug-makers settlement fund and is the only attorney prosecuted for submitting faked claims. Most awards went to people from Jefferson County, and several of those payees were prosecuted.

In April, Arledge asked the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi to shorten his sentence on grounds his criminal defense attorneys were either distracted by personal issues or involved in the original Fen-Phen litigation without his knowledge. That case is still active before U.S. District Judge David Bramlette, whose sentence has already been affirmed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.

Arledge’s release date is Oct. 12, 2013, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He was suspended from practicing law in Mississippi in 2008.