Penn State

Freeh replaced as head of law firm; work in oil spill being questioned

Louis Freeh is no longer the head of his law firm.

In a press release Thursday, Pepper Hamilton LLP announced that the former FBI director was being succeeded as chairman of the executive committee by Thomas Gallagher. Officials for the firm confirmed that Freeh remains a partner and member of the executive committee, and that he is still chairman of Freeh Group International Solutions.

Gallagher is a former federal prosecutor and two-year member of the firm’s executive committee. His focus has been representing those accused of white-collar crimes and corporate investigations.

While the move comes on the heels of a serious car accident in which Freeh was injured in August, the firm claims that was not the motivation behind the move.

“The future of Pepper Hamilton has never been brighter, and Tom Gallagher will continue to build on the firm’s outstanding reputation. At the beginning of August, I advised the executive committee that I intended to step down as chair and I asked them to plan for my succession. Tom’s selection as chair is the result of that process,” Freeh said in the release.

A representative of the firm said Freeh “is focusing on his recovery” after the crash.

The firm in its current form was born when Freeh’s Delaware law office, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan, were blended with Philadelphia powerhouse Pepper Hamilton in 2012.

That was part of the protest raised by attorneys for former Penn State president Graham Spanier in his defamation suit against Freeh for his 2012 report commissioned by the university after the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Freeh found culpability by a number of university officials, including Spanier.

When Spanier, who faces perjury and conspiracy charges in Dauphin County, sued in Pennsylvania, Freeh petitioned to have the case moved to federal court. Spanier’s camp contends that the involvement of Pepper Hamilton, a Philadelphia firm, proves a Pennsylvania connection and should remain in a Keystone State courtroom.

Other work by Freeh is currently being questioned as well.

Last week, U.S. Judge Carl Barbier in Louisiana ordered a Nov. 7 evidentiary hearing in a case involving lawyers, allegations of corruption and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Lionel Sutton and Christine Reitano, husband and wife attorneys who once worked for the office processing claims for victims of the ecological disaster, are appealing a report Freeh prepared in 2013 at Barbier’s direction looking at ethical violations. The report returned allegations of “fraud, money laundering, conspiracy or perjury” and recommended a criminal investigation of Sutton, Reitano and two other lawyers, as well as reviews by their bar associations.

The appeal claims the report was biased and questions the investigation.

Penn State had no comment on Freeh’s replacement or the Louisiana appeal.

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