THE NEWS IN BRIEF: Law Professor Dershowitz Defends Woman Accused of Racketeering and Fraud

Alan M. Dershowitz, Frankfurter professor of law, moved from the classroom to the courtroom this week to defend Betty Loren-Maltese, a former town president in Illinois with alleged mafia connections.

On Tuesday, Dershowitz appealed Loren-Maltese’s August 2002 conviction for racketeering and fraud in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.

Loren-Maltese is currently serving her 97-month prison term in a federal prison in California, according to the Chicago Tribune.

While town president of Cicero, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, Loren-Maltese, along with seven co-defendants, was convicted of funneling over $10 million in an insurance scam. The money was allegedly used to buy Cadillacs, a golf course in Wisconsin, and a horse farm in Indiana, the Tribune reported.

Other co-defendents in the case are also reputed to have mafia connections, according to the Tribune.

Dershowitz said in an interview yesterday that Loren-Maltese contacted him two years ago. After reading records of her case, Dershowitz said he became convinced of her innocence.

Dershowitz said he believes that while there was “real insurance fraud going on,” his client had no knowledge of it.

Loren-Maltese’s husband served as town president prior to Loren-Maltese’s tenure. She took office following his death, according to Dershowitz.

“It is possible her husband was involved, but she herself seemed to be out of the loop,” Dershowitz said. “There seemed to be a little bit of sexism involved—‘if the husband knew, she must have known’ kind of thing.”

Dershowitz has gained notoriety for defending famous clients, including OJ Simpson and Claus Von Bulow, a socialite who was accused of attempting to kill his wife and was subsequently acquitted.

But he said that his scholarship and teaching have never taken a subordinate role to his practice of law.

“I’ve been teaching forty-one years and have never missed a class for a case,” Dershowitz said. “I argued the case on Tuesday, and the whole argument took half an hour. I prepared for it over the weekend.”