Weinberg and Green fired back at client Bruce C. Bereano yesterday in legal papers that took issue with the convicted lobbyist's claim that he had no payment agreement with the law firm.
The firm has asked to withdraw from representing Mr. Bereano in his appeals because of more than $200,000 in outstanding legal bills.
Earlier this week, Mr. Bereano objected to that move, saying no specific payment plan had ever been agreed to and that the loss of his Weinberg and Green lawyers would severely damage his chances for a successful appeal.
Mr. Bereano was found guilty in November of defrauding clients to make illegal campaign contributions. He was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $20,000.
Of his $668,000 legal bill to date, more than $450,000 has been paid by GTECH Corp., a former client that won a controversial $49 million state lottery contract in 1992 with Mr. Bereano's help.
Federal authorities began investigating Mr. Bereano three years ago because of that contract, but he later was convicted of activities that had nothing to do with the company.
GTECH has refused to pay any more of Mr. Bereano's legal bills.
Mr. Bereano insists there never was a payment agreement with the law firm.
But in court papers, Weinberg and Green quoted from a letter dated Jan. 5, 1993, in which Mr. Bereano's lawyer, M. Albert Figinski, spelled out some terms of the firm's agreement to represent the lobbyist.
The law firm would not require a retainer, because GTECH planned to pay the legal expenses, he wrote. But the firm would bill monthly, and those bills were "due and payable upon receipt," he wrote.
"As is this firm's custom, it reserves the right to discontinue representation if any of its bills for this or other matters are not paid upon receipt," Mr. Figinski wrote.
Efforts to reach Mr. Bereano yesterday were unsuccessful. Two weeks ago, he announced that he had opened a legal defense fund in hopes of collecting $300,000 in contributions. The law firm claims that it tried to work out a specific payment plan with Mr. Bereano, but could not reach an agreement.