The family of Baltimore murder victim Isiah Callaway sued his former lawyer this week, saying he told a co-defendant of Callaway's that federal authorities wanted to speak to his client — information that the family says got him killed.
Pikesville-based attorney Larry J. Feldman faces a civil suit in Baltimore City Circuit Court that alleges he shared information about Callaway with Tavon Davis, who had been accused of running a rent-check fraud scheme in which Callaway participated.
Davis pleaded guilty last fall to federal murder conspiracy charges in Callaway's death. The fraud charges were dropped. Feldman has not been charged with a crime.
Steven Silverman, the Callaway family's attorney, said he hopes the suit will "admonish what appears to be the most egregious breach of trust imaginable."
"Isiah's family has been frustrated by the lack of what they perceive to be any justice brought in this case," Silverman said.
The plaintiffs are seeking more than $40 million in damages, according to the complaint filed Tuesday.
Authorities said Callaway worked with Davis in the scheme — stealing rent checks and depositing them into fake bank accounts — when he was arrested by Baltimore County police in December 2010.
Davis, who had been represented in court in the past by Feldman, referred Callaway to the attorney, the family's civil complaint said. Feldman allegedly told Davis that Callaway had been cooperating with U.S. authorities looking into the fraud accusations.
Feldman "immediately tipped Davis off about the federal investigation and never once spoke to Callaway about the matter," the document said.
"Feldman also warned Davis about numerous subsequent contacts he had received from federal authorities, claiming that they were putting 'enormous pressure' on him to get Callaway to cooperate in their investigation of Davis' scheme," the complaint said.
Feldman told The Baltimore Sun in a December 2011 interview that it was not his fault that Davis found out about Callaway's case.
"I know I spoke to Callaway about the government wanting to speak with him, and I'm sure [the co-conspirators] were all aware of that," he said. "I cannot imagine that he would not have spoken to Davis about that."
He referred comments Thursday to his attorney, R. Scott Krause, who did not return a request for comment.
At the time, federal prosecutors said, the evidence did not support criminal charges against Feldman.
According to court records in Davis' criminal case, Feldman told Davis he could face two decades in prison.
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Concerned about the jail time, Davis agreed to pay a third man, Bruce Byrd, $2,000 to shoot Callaway, and the two spoke more than 60 times orchestrating Callaway's killing, prosecutors said.
Byrd was convicted of shooting Callaway at close range as he sat inside a Toyota Camry in the 1700 block of Crystal Ave.
Callaway, who was 19 when he was killed, had worked at a clothing store at Arundel Mills mall and had no prior adult criminal record.
Davis realized after Callaway's death that he would have only spent three to four years in jail if convicted for operating the fraud scheme. According to court documents, he told a friend that his decision to order the killing made him the "schmuck of the year."