The Fugitive

Sean Casey, who pleaded guilty to killing an elderly woman, claims a prominent lawyer urged him to flee.

The next day, Casey and his mother met Rappaport. (Hirsch would later tell the court he often refers "difficult clients" to the psychologist for evaluations.) Casey had been seeing Rappaport for quite awhile. In the transcript of that tape, the psychologist tells Casey and his mother: "Most of the people who leave the country don't get caught... And there aren't DUI gay guys from Miami on Interpol's list."

Then he addresses Genevieve: "I'm telling you if it were my son; I would do everything I could not to get him to go to prison. The reality is staying in this country becomes very problematic. Most of the people who leave the country don't get caught."

Casey didn't reveal the existence of the tapes before agreeing to the plea deal Hirsch negotiated for him in 2006. The next year, though, he hired a new lawyer, David S. Markus, who argued at a March 2, 2007 hearing that the taped conversations were enough to dismiss the DUI manslaughter conviction. Markus wanted the court to start the case over by vacating the guilty plea. At a new trial, he said, Casey would be cleared. And he claimed Hirsch was to blame. "If a lawyer tells his client to flee the jurisdiction, it is aiding and abbetting," Markus told the court. "It's obstruction of justice. I think it's a criminal act."

On the stand, Hirsch and Rappaport vehemently denied they had encouraged or advised Casey to leave the United States. "I didn't tell him to run over Mrs. Montgomery," Hirsch testified. "I didn't tell him to flee the scene. I didn't tell him to flee the country. And I didn't tell him to make up stories."

Judge Leonard Glick, who presided over the case at that time, declined to listen to the tapes after a prosecutor alleged they were illegally made. Under Florida law, it is generally illegal to record someone if they do not know they are being taped. Without that evidence, Glick found Casey's testimony "unworthy of belief."

A new hearing is scheduled July 29. One issue that might come up is a letter indicating Hirsch tried to help Casey stay in Chile. Before he was extradited, Casey hired Chilean lawyer Patricio Gonzalez Marin. On October 25, 2006, he wrote to the State Attorney's Office that "Hirsch understood that the objective of our case was for Mr. Casey not to be deported and obtain legal residence in Chile... In August 2006, to assist our case, Mr. Hirsch sent a certified affidavit to us informing that Mr. Casey was never tried or convicted for the charges against him in the United States."

Casey is not optimistic: "Milton Hirsch has a lot of influence," he says. "I am going up against the establishment."

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