An attorney claims that he has evidence that a panel of judge in the Panama Supreme Court were bribed into stripping him of control over a $150 million estate. The lawyer, Richard Lehman, says that he has an affidavit that proves that the foreign court illegally removed him from his position as executor of the estate of his client, Wilson Lucom. According to Mr. Lehman, Mr. Lucom’s final wishes for his estate were that the estate be overseen by Mr. Lehman and that a portion of the estate be donated to “needy Panamanian children.” However, Mr. Lucom’s took over the estate after her legal team bribed several judges.
Facts of the Case
This lawsuit stretches back to 2006, when Mr. Lucom passed away. A wealthy American expatriate living in Panama, he appointed both his widow Hilda Lucom and Mr. Lehman as the executors of his estate in his original will. However, he made modifications to the estate plan prior to his death that contributed to the legal battle over his estate as well as over its real estate holdings on the Pacific coast of Panama.
Over the years, Mr. Lehman has battles Ms. Lucom in Panamanian court claiming that the widow was ignoring her late husband’s wishes to donate a portion of the estate to the needy children of the country. Ms. Lucom retaliated by filing criminal complaints against Mr. Lehman for “aggravated swindle” and the theft of family funds. As a result, Mr. Lehman was briefly on the International Criminal Police Organization’s list of wanted men and was jailed in Panama for a short while before being cleared of the criminal charges.
As to the affidavit at issue, Mr. Lehman’s lawsuit claims that “it’s drawn from the statements of a ‘prominent real estate developer’ who heard a post-factum discussion about the briber . . . The corruption of the Panamanian judicial system is not mere speculation. The actual meeting where [the widow’s] lawyer offered and negotiated a $1 million bribe to one of the Justices of the Panel, was reported … to the prominent real estate developer.”
Fallout of the Case
Back in the United States, a Florida Circuit Court judge issued a multi-million dollar judgment against Mr. Lehman for improperly removing funds from Mr. Lucom’s estate to fund his courtroom drama with Ms. Lucom. The judge called Lehman’s actions those of an “intermeddling volunteer” and stated that “Although Lehman attempted to portray himself at trial as a protector of the assets of the overall estate, the credible evidence showed him to be a covetous opportunist.”
Mr. Lehman’s latest lawsuit wants this judgment set aside and claims that the American judges have been misled by a corrupt Panamanian judge, Juan Molina and claims that three judges higher up on the Panamanian Supreme Court were all bribed, as well. Mr. Lehman claims that in 2010 when the Panama court gave Ms. Lucom control over the estate, they did so “in consideration of a several million dollar bribe paid to the three Panamanian Supreme Court Justices.” Mr. Lucom is now suing the estate of Ms. Lucom, who passed away in 2011m as well as her attorneys and heirs for fraud and injunctive relief against the handling of the estate.