The Austin Chronicle

Linebarger's Legal Travails

By Michael King, March 14, 2003, News

Just-retired Travis Co. Attorney Ken Oden joined the law firm of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson Monday as the firm's "ethics manager" or ombudsman, charged with monitoring ethical practices and procedures within the firm. Oden should have plenty of work.

His hiring was partly in response to the indictment of Juan Peña, a partner in Linebarger's Edinburg office, on federal charges of conspiracy to bribe two members of the San Antonio City Council. Then, last week, Linebarger was sued by the Austin firm Municipal Services Bureau, which claims Linebarger violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, better known as RICO. MSB claims Linebarger, which specializes in delinquent tax collection, obtained contracts by bribery in Houston, Corpus Christi, Beaumont, Miami, and other cities and that the firm rigged bids in Fort Worth and Dallas.

Managing partner Dale Linebarger described the lawsuit as a smear campaign and "sour grapes" from a disappointed competitor. Oden told us last week that he had not yet seen the lawsuit, but that he expected one of his first projects would be to familiarize himself with the case.

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