SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

November 14, 2012

Documents: Money woes for family in scandal

(Continued)

Chase Bank sued Scott Kelley in 2010 over a $25,880 unpaid credit card bill, and an investment by the Kelleys in a Tampa office building turned into a dispute with the tenant over $28,000-a-month rent. The couple didn’t pay the mortgage and entered into foreclosure.

Attorney Barry Cohen represented the Kelleys in the case, but they turned around and sued him over legal fees, claiming he overcharged them by $5,000. The suit was dismissed, but court documents did not say what happened.

Natalie Khawam worked for Cohen’s firm. She filed a lawsuit against the firm’s chief financial officer, claiming she was sexually harassed after she asked about reimbursement for expenses, according to the court documents. She claimed Alan Goldberg asked her why she needed the money and she said because she was a single mom and needed to pay her divorce lawyer. “You have nice legs, your lawyer won’t drop you,” she claimed he replied.

Cohen, defending Goldberg, disputed all of her accusations, and said Khawam had a history of lying to the court, according to the documents.

A report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found the facts did not support that “working conditions were so intolerable that a reasonable person in her position would have been compelled to resign.”

Khawam, who earned $270,822 in 2010, quit the firm and filed for bankruptcy in April, listing almost $350,000 in assets against $3.6 million in liabilities, including an $800,000 personal loan from her sister and brother-in-law, according to court documents. It was not clear whether the loan was made over time.

Her assets were a $344,000 residential property in Washington, D.C., a 2000 Volvo and jewelry, clothes and $694 in cash. Her liabilities included two mortgages totaling $367,000 on the D.C. property, more than $100,000 in student loans and three other personal loans totaling $1.1 million.

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