Ex-Attorney For Navy SEAL Acquitted Of War Crimes Claims He's Owed Up To $1M
A former attorney for a San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of war crimes claims the SEAL has not paid him the money he is owed, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Friday
Texas-based attorney Colby Vokey alleges Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Eddie Gallagher is in breach of a contract he signed in October and Vokey is seeking $200,000 to $1 million in damages through arbitration, the Union-Tribune reported.
Gallagher apparently agreed to go into arbitration should any attorney-client disputes emerge, according to the newspaper. He signed the arbitration document on Oct. 11, 2018.
Vokey represented Gallagher until mid-March, when another civilian defense attorney, Timothy Parlatore, joined the case.
"The Gallagher family has been through hell, and it is grotesque that Colby Vokey has decided to go after them when the case isn't even over," Parlatore told the Union-Tribune.
Gallagher is waiting for the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, to finalize the case. Richardson can confirm, vacate or alter the sentence levied by a San Diego military jury in July.
Gallagher was found not guilty of the most serious charges against him, which included premeditated murder and shooting at civilians while in Iraq in 2017. He was found guilty of posing with the body of an Islamic State fighter and was sentenced to a reduction in rank and four months confinement, which Gallagher served before trial.
Richardson took over as convening authority in the Navy SEAL's case last week. It remains unclear when he might make a final decision in the case.
In a post on their joint Instagram account, Gallagher's wife, Andrea Gallagher, said Vokey and nonprofit United American Patriots promised to provide her husband "a top-notch legal defense with all expenses paid."
"Instead, they dragged the case out, focused more on using our family for fundraising while Colby ran up the bill, and made little to no progress in actually freeing Eddie," she said in the post.
The contract signed in October showed Vokey and co-counsel Phillip Stackhouse were to be paid $400 per hour, the Union-Tribune reported. However, it also said Gallagher was approved for financial support through United American Patriots, a nonprofit that helps fund legal costs for service members.
Vokey is listed on UAP's website as a member of its advisory board.
In the Instagram post, Andrea Gallagher said Vokey was "fired" after he "tried to push the trial out to November, we felt that he lied, threatened and extorted our family."
"We believe if it were up to Colby Vokey, Eddie would still be in the brig with a trial in November or later," she said in the post.
In March, after Vokey's alleged firing, Andrea Gallagher announced on social media that her husband's defense would no longer raise money via UAP. She directed supporters to donate to the Navy SEALs Fund, another nonprofit that helps Navy SEAL families in need.
As of Friday morning, the fund has collected just shy of $750,000 in donations for Gallagher's case.
"We are going to fight this, and I expect at the end of the day, Mr. Vokey will end up owing Eddie Gallagher money," Parlatore told the newspaper. "When I took the case over, absolutely nothing Colby Vokey did in his first year representing Eddie Gallagher was of any help in moving this case forward. He performed no valuable services."