Patricia Cornwell's $40 million mystery: Defendant's lawyer says "no losses" occurred

The mystery surrounding author Patricia Cornwell's missing $40 million just took an interesting twist.

As I wrote about yesterday, Cornwell and her spouse, Staci Gruber, filed a lawsuit in the Federal Court in Boston, claiming that money management firm Anchin, Block & Anchin LLP had decimated their net worth, wrote checks for unauthorized expenses and kept them in the dark about their finances during the four and a half years of their representation.

Now the lawyer for the firm is speaking out.
Tom Manisero, a partner in the New York law firm of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP, denies that his client has any liability to Cornwell and Gruber. Even more interesting, however, is that the lawyer says there have been "no losses" in the account.

If that's the case, why would Cornwell and Gruber go through the trouble of filing a claim?

Mansiero's explanation: The move is a "preemptive" lawsuit designed to avoid paying fees owed to his client.

The lawyer declined to identify any of the investments that were made in the Cornwell and Gruber accounts, but noted that they performed "better than the market."

"Every expense was authorized" by the clients, he says, but conceded that Anchin did have power of attorney, which permitted it to sign checks and take other action.

Manisero is no stranger to controversial lawsuits involving public figures. He helped expose attorney Marc Dreier, who bilked investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars in an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Manisero represented an audit firm whose letterhead was forged by Dreier to make it appear that the firm had issued a legitimate audit concerning notes Dreier was selling. Calls between Manisero and Dreier were recorded by the U.S. Attorneys Office.

The gaping disconnect between Cornwell's allegations and Anchin's denial of any wrongdoing have made this case a mystery indeed.

Dan Solin is the author of the newly published book, The Smartest Retirement Book You'll Ever Read (Perigee Books 2009). His prior books include the New York Times bestsellers, The Smartest Investment Book You'll Ever Read and The Smartest 401(k) Book You'll Ever Read. See SmartestInvestmentBook.com. Read more about Dan Solin.

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