Chicago Tribune

September 6, 1988 Tuesday, SPORTS FINAL EDITION


BYLINE: By James Warren, Maurice Possley & Joseph Tybor.


LENGTH: 1533 words

Will contests can be oh so ugly, and a tussle involving a prominent Chicago psychiatrist and a millionaire virtually cut out of his wealthy mother’s estate is as unseemly as any.
The case, due for trial in Cook County Probate Court later this month and already suitable for melodramatic recounting on “As The World Turns,” is a contest over the $5 million estate of Anne P. Lederer, who died in 1984 at age 78.
Her only child, Francis L. Lederer II, has accused Dr. George Pollock, immediate past president of the American Psychiatric Association, of exploiting a 14-year doctor-patient relationship with the mother for his selfish gain.
Pollock, a heavy hitter in his trade who is both director of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis and a professor at Northwestern University Medical School, describes the allegations, through his attorneys, as a distorted, twisted exercise in fiction.
Francis Lederer is “a greedy and guilt-ridden son who never had a good relationship with his mother,” attorneys for Pollock say in court documents. Relations worsened as the years passed, and the suit is a son’s desperate attempt “at ultimate revenge against his mother.”
On the other hand, Francis Lederer accuses Pollock of exercising “undue influence” over his mother from the time he began treating her in 1969 to the time of her death.
The mother inherited substantial money from her father, who was with Sears, Roebuck & Co., and she was married to a successful Chicago doctor. When she died, she left $200,000 to her son, several thousand dollars to two grandchildren and the rest of her estate, estimated at $5 million, to the Anne P. Lederer Research Institute, which she founded four years before her death to promote psychiatric research. Francis Lederer alleges that establishment of the institute in 1980 was meant to primarily benefit Pollock, who was supposed to serve as its director at a substantial salary.
While under psychiatric treatment with Pollock, she established two trusts that provide him and his family with $80,000 in annual income and donated more than $600,000 to the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, including $60,000 to a fund controlled by Pollock for depression research.
Pollock’s attorneys, who include Robert Tepper, deny any wrongdoing by Pollock, while Francis Lederer’s attorneys maintain that the reason Pollock decided voluntarily to forgo serving with the research institute was fear that his involvement “would be an obvious red flag of deceit,” namely that it might be seen as proof that the institute was founded for his benefit. Pollock says he didn’t take over as director because of extensive professional commitments.
In sworn pretrial testimony, potential witnesses have said that Mrs. Lederer considered Pollock to have taken the place of her husband after his death in 1973. They said Pollock advised her on all facets of her life, from what to eat to where to live and what attorneys to hire to revise her will. He gave her gifts, sent her flowers and phoned her almost daily, the witnesses said.
Pollock treated her for depression as many as five sessions a week until 1980 and continued prescribing medication for her until 1983, court documents show. It prompts a somewhat portentious analysis from one lawyer.
“She gave him her mind and he took her pocketbook,” is the way Kevin Murnighan, the son’s attorney, describes the whole matter.
“Dr. Pollock junked his ethical principles and psychoanalytic duty and became the decedent’s friend, business adviser and recipient of lavish gifts. Because her mind was troubled and because she voluntarily opened it to him in trust, Dr. Pollock was able to control Mrs. Lederer,” Murnighan says.
Dr. Larry Strasburger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, was hired by the son’s attorneys as an expert witness. His review of the pretrial evidence leads him to conclude that Mrs. Lederer took a sufficient amount of medication prescribed by Pollock to become “psychologically habituated and physically dependent” upon the medication.
Strasburger cited ethical principles of the American Psychoanalytic Association stating that the analyst “must not exploit the treatment of a patient for his own financial gain or to promote his personal advantage.”
In court documents, Pollock’s attorneys call Strasburger’s conclusions “sheer speculation.” They say Mrs. Lederer knew her son was well taken care of and followed a family tradition of leaving the bulk of her estate to charity. In part, they rely on their own expert, and no stranger to Chicago courtrooms, Dr. James Cavanaugh, a much-used psychiatrist at Rush- Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center who is a specialist in treating the criminally insane. He says the mother was not under undue influence.
Both sides agree that the mother knew her son was the beneficiary of a $6 million trust created by her father and distributable to him after she died. During her lifetime, Francis also was the beneficiary of about $2 million from trusts created for him by the mother. This largesse has allowed Francis to remain unemployed since 1971, Pollock’s attorneys say.
Then again, who needs the soaps when the real world offers tawdry messes like this. It’s set for trial before Circuit Judge Frank Petrone on Sept. 22. PROSECUTOR AS PROSECUTEE
The U.S. attorney’s office lost a case last week, but for at least one prosecutor the acquittal meant victory. Meet Sheldon Zenner, veteran federal prosecutor and-for a short while-the defendant.
Following a five-minute bench trial before U.S. Magistrate Joan Gottschall, Zenner, deputy chief of U.S. Atty. Anton Valukas’ special prosecutions division, was acquitted of an illegal parking charge.
Joel Bertocchi, another prosecutor, represented the government. That raised a line of inquiry we were quite happy to pursue. Is a prosecutor prosecuting a prosecutor a conflict of interest? Bertocchi declined to comment.
Zenner’s car was ticketed June 30 for allegedly being parked illegally in a space in the underground lot at the Dirksen Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn St. The Federal Protective Service, which patrols the premises, also attached a Denver boot to the vehicle.
Zenner was out of town on business and did not return until Tuesday, July 5, when he discovered the boot and the ticket. The car was parked in a spot assigned to fellow prosecutor Joseph Hartzler, who had previously given permission to Zenner to park in the slot two days a week.
Gottschall ruled that the ticket was issued on one of the two days that Zenner was entitled to be in the spot. Zenner, the prosecutor prosecuted by another prosecutor and, now, one of the few defendants to beat the government here, declined to comment.
The indictment here of three football agents and one NFL football player may bring to the surface an array of rogues and odd characters. There are few more notable than M.L. “Mike” Trope, onetime sports agent who says he’s lawyering full-time since getting his law license last December. The Californian made an appearance here for the arraignment of one of the three indicted agents, New York’s Lloyd Bloom.
Bloom and colleague Norby Walters are accused of using threats and payments of money and other gifts to secure agreements with college athletes to allow the agents to act as their bargaining agents with professional teams. Trope was one of the first big-time football agents and last September published a book, “Necessary Roughness,” detailing escapades as an adviser to star athletes.
His first client was Johnny Rodgers, star running back and Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Nebraska. Trope was still a student at the University of Southern California when he began a career as sports agent. “Rodgers took me to dinner,” says Trope, who eventually went on to earn more than $1 million as a sports agent. Rodgers was already wearing a fancy fur coat in those days, suggesting that sources of income may not be scant for an undergraduate gridiron hero.
But Trope says he’s through with the sports agent biz, folks. “And I’ll probably move onto something else eventually. I don’t like to get stagnant.” But his days on the Bloom case may be numbered, sources say, because of a possible conflict. Trope took a $25,000 retainer from Bloom, but that money came from a Bloom client, Kansas City Chiefs running back Paul Palmer, whom the government alleges was bilked by Bloom. Bloom allegedly took lots of money meant for Palmer investments and invested it in Bloom, or at least trinkets, like a Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible, to benefit Bloom. The government does not say Trope did anything wrong in taking the retainer.
BRIEFS-Dan Purdom, former federal prosecutor, is named a partner for Hinshaw, Culbertson, Moelmann, Hoban and Fuller. . . . It might not be as rousing as hearing Jim and Tammy Bakker, but attorney Jay Krafsur and David Slutzky, president of Environmental Risk Consultants, speak on “Hidden Environmental Risks Related to Property Transfer or Ownership” on Oct. 19, noon, at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.