Thursday, April 21, 2016

Lawyer objects to Onosko motion in cop's inheritance case

Lawyer objects to Onosko motion in cop's inheritance case


  • Portsmouth Police Commissioner Joe Onosko
    Portsmouth Police Commissioner Joe Onosko
    • By Elizabeth Dinan

      Posted Apr. 14, 2016 at 4:56 PM

      PORTSMOUTH — Police Commissioner Joe Onosko's efforts to delay settlement of an estate case, pertaining to a fired cop's overturned $2.7 million inheritance, have been met by objection from a lawyer representing two of the estate's largest beneficiaries.
      Onosko filed an April 5 motion in the Strafford County probate court, asking for 30 days to review $579,000 in legal bills submitted by attorney David Eby, for his work on the case. Eby represents the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Shriner's Hospitals for Children, each one-quarter beneficiaries of the estate of the late Geraldine Webber, after smaller beneficiaries and bills are paid. The Portsmouth police and fire departments are also each one-quarter beneficiaries. 
      Onosko's motion to review Eby's bills contends that the Police Commission is the governing body of the Portsmouth Police Department and was not privy to negotiations about paying about half of Eby's bills, instead learning about it, "when reported in the Portsmouth Herald." 
      Eby's new objection states that Portsmouth, and its police and fire departments, are represented by City Attorney Robert Sullivan who "assented" (agreed) to the payment of Eby's legal bills from Webber's estate. Sullivan also agreed to terms for the distribution of all other bequests from the estate, with the exception of taking no position on an agreement that Braintree High School pay Eby $40,000 from its inheritance, Eby wrote.  
      Eby's objection states the court granted the motion for payment of his legal fees and estate distribution, prior to Onosko's motion "as a non-lawyer seeking to represent the Portsmouth Police Commission." Eby wrote to the court that the city attorney, in his own objection, contends the Police Commission "is not separate and distinct from the city and its Police Department," both of which Sullivan represents.
      Sullivan said Thursday he has not yet filed a reply to Onosko's motion, but intends to do so. He said he and Eby had discussed the matter.
      Eby wrote to the court that even if the Police Commission were separate and distinct from the police and fire departments, which are represented by Sullivan, the commission is not a party in the estate case. Neither Onosko nor the Police Commission filed a motion with the court to intervene, Eby argues. 
      "As a non-party, Onosko, to the extent that he can even represent the Police Commission, another non-party, should not be heard," Eby wrote. 
      Because of Onosko's motion, Eby contends, an administrator of the estate is now unable to distribute Eby's fees. Any conflict between the Police Commission and Sullivan, Eby argues, "is an internal matter" and "not a matter that requires resolution by this court." 
      The hospitals' lawyer asks the court to deny Onosko's motion. 
      Onosko and Commissioner Joe Plaia voted in favor of filing the court motion to review Eby's fees last month. Plaia said he agreed the commission should have been consulted before the bills were approved by the city and that he supported filing the court motion to allow the commission time to "do our due diligence." 
      Commission Chairman Brenna Cavanaugh voted against the motion to get involved in the case, saying Eby's bills had been reviewed by lawyers and Judge Gary Cassavechia and she does not believe it would be "a productive effort at this time."

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