Actor in dispute over legal fees

Legal advice does not come cheap, especially if you get caught up in a government investigation.

Steven Seagal has sued his former law firm, Loeb & Loeb, for the return of at least $450,000 he paid in legal fees connected to his testimony as a witness in an organized crime trial in Brooklyn in 2003. According to the complaint, Seagal was billed over $1 million by Loeb and an additional $1.2 million by New York firm Schulte, Roth & Zabel, which was called in to help Loeb.

The case began when Seagal ended his longtime relationship with producing partner Julius Nasso. Nasso sued in 2002, claiming Seagal pulled out of their partnership when he came under the influence of Mukara, a spiritual adviser associated with a clandestine and unorthodox Tibetan sect. Nasso did not content himself with a lawsuit. He also had Anthony Ciccone, a member of the Gambino crime family, and Peter Gotti, brother of John Gotti, threaten Seagal if he didn’t continue the partnership. The whole thing was caught on tape by the FBI, which was independently investigating organized crime at the Brooklyn docks.

According to the current complaint, Loeb represented Seagal — a witness, not a target — in connection with his grand jury testimony and trial testimony against Nasso, who ultimately pleaded guilty to extortion.

But Seagal’s strange entanglement with the justice system spurred an even bigger investigation. In 2002, while investigating Seagal’s ties to the mob, reporter Anita Busch found a dead fish and a threatening note on her car, spurring the FBI to launch the storied investigation of Anthony Pellicano, onetime private investigator to the stars. Pellicano and his associate Alexander Proctor were charged in 2005 with threatening Busch.

Although Proctor claimed he was working for Seagal, the actor, no longer represented by Loeb, has consistently denied any involvement, and he has never been charged.

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