Saturday, November 13, 2004
A Montgomery County judge has temporarily frozen the assets of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his wife, Pamela, in connection with a lawsuit over unpaid wages filed by employees of a religious academy that Abramoff founded.
Circuit Judge Eric Johnson issued an order this week barring the Abramoffs from transferring or depleting their assets other than for normal living expenses or to pay attorneys' fees. He did so at the request of 13 former employees of the now-defunct Eshkol Academy, who have sued the school and the Abramoffs. They contend that they were wrongly deprived of one-quarter of their annual salaries when the school closed in May.
The Eshkol Academy, an Orthodox Jewish school in Columbia that received most of its funds through Abramoff's efforts, was a casualty of the controversy resulting from Abramoff's lobbying practices. Abramoff was ousted by the Greenberg Traurig law firm this spring after disclosures that he and an associate charged tens of millions of dollars in fees to Indian tribes seeking to protect their gambling wealth. A federal grand jury is investigating their contracts with the tribes.
The Eshkol employees, who include nine teachers and the principal, contend they are owed $149,000. Johnson granted a temporary restraining order securing the Abramoffs' assets late Wednesday, pending a full hearing.