Bankruptcy attorneys hired by Paul Manafort’s former son-in-law Jeffrey Yohai are seeking to drop their representation of at least one of his businesses, citing unpaid bills and a ‘lack of candor.’
The move comes about a week after press reports that Yohai secretly entered a guilty plea earlier this year in a criminal case relating to financing for his real estate deals. The plea led to speculation that Yohai might be providing evidence to prosecutors working for special counsel Robert Mueller on two criminal cases against Manafort.
In filings Friday in federal bankruptcy court, attorneys from the Torrance, California, law firm of Hinds & Shankman told a judge that they can no longer represent Yohai’s Baylor Holding, LLC real estate firm.
“As of the filing of this motion, Baylor is in default under various provisions of the singed [sic] engagement letter with H&S, including by way of example only, lack of candor, lack of cooperation, and non-payment expenses [sic] and attorneys’ fees,” attorneys James Hinds, Paul Shankman and Rachel Sposato wrote. “Failure by a client to be candid with counsel, a failure to cooperate in the engagement, and a failure to pay for services are all good cause for counsel to seek leave of the court to withdraw. … Baylor has repeatedly failed to be candid with H&S, top [sic] cooperate with H&S and has failed to pay its outstanding attorneys fees and costs.”
Baylor is an investment vehicle Manafort and Yohai used to purchase various properties in the Los Angeles area. Court records list Yohai as the “managing member” of the company.
In response to an email message from POLITICO, Hinds said his role was limited to business issues related to the properties Yohai was trying to develop.
“Our representation of Jeffrey ended when he was unable to refi the three properties in Bankruptcy Court. I have nothing to do with Jeffrey’s criminal issues,” Hinds said.
Yohai appears to have been under increasing financial stress over the past several years, as he struggled to finance the real estate projects and faced lawsuits from disgruntled investors like actor Dustin Hoffman. A Reuters report on Yohai’s plea earlier this year said he is now represented by a public defender, typically available only to defendants who are indigent.
Yohai and Manafort’s daughter Jessica divorced last year.