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News Maryland Baltimore Crime Beat

Prominent Baltimore entertainment lawyer disbarred

The Baltimore entertainment attorney who represented White House state dinner crashers Tareq and Michaele Salahi and "The Wire" actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson was disbarred Monday after the state's highest court found he had, among other things, overbilled clients and misused money given to him as a retainer.

The Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that Paul W. Gardner II had violated official standards of conduct for lawyers, and he was ordered to pay court costs.

The court ruled Gardner improperly paid his office manager for legal work, though she was not an attorney, and improperly filed a nonimmigrant work visa application, resulting in its being denied. In one case, he charged $25,000 to a woman to negotiate a contract between her son and rapper Rick Ross to produce a song, but the contract was never executed and the money was not fully returned.

The Court of Appeals also said Gardner was late to his disciplinary proceedings.

Gardner, a managing partner of the Gardner Law Group, claims on the firm's website to have represented musicians like Outkast and has pictures of himself with various celebrities and public figures, including President Barack Obama. In 2009, he represented the Salahi couple, who were accused of showing up at a White House state dinner without an invitation.

Gardner represented "The Wire" actress Pearson after she was charged in a drug ring sweep, and once posted a "Free Snoop" video on YouTube encouraging fans to send fan mail to Pearson at Central Booking. Shortly after, relations between Pearson's camp and Gardner soured and she dropped him for another attorney.

cwells@baltsun.com

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