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Court Denies Probation Relief for Defendant With Double Life

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Legal assistant Paul Whinnery led a double life, and both lost in court.

Whinnery was working for a large law firm when travel restrictions became a problem. Whinnery couldn't travel as a condition of probation from his past life as Dr. Paul Schlieve, who was a mathematics professor.

The sentencing judge had restricted Schlieve because he was also cooking meth in those days. It's a law: you can't teach math and cook meth at the same time. It's also a problem on your resume -- especially in the law business.

Real Life 'Breaking Bad'

Schlieve was teaching at North Texas State University, but then became part of a drug ring. He was recruited by a former convict, who called him "Daddy."

Agents swept 22 suspects in a drug bust, and Schlieve pleaded guilty to charges in 2004. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison, with supervised probation upon release. Among other conditions, he was not allowed to travel outside the state. His lawyer asked the court to lift the restriction.

"After his release from prison, through a stroke of good fortune and networking, Dr. Schlieve has been introduced to over a dozen lawyers and legal scholars throughout the country who have taken notice of his work ethic, affinity to identify legal issues and memorize legal precedent, and advocacy skills," attorney Bill Jones wrote on his behalf.

District Judge William Conley denied the request, and the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed.

Schlieve, going by the Whinnery name, had been working as a legal assistant for Clayborne, Sabo and Wagner. His tasks included reviewing discovery, researching legal issues, and drafting legal memoranda for supervising attorneys. But firm partner John Sabo said he needed to travel more.

He said Whinnery needed to meet with lawyers and law firms handling litigation in various states. Apparently aware of the probation conditions, Sabo said he appreciated Whinnery's work but he had little choice.

"While I appreciate all of your good work and dedication in helping me wrestle with the hundreds of thousands of documents related to the more than ten years of multiple litigation that grew out of our client's several investments, it will not be possible to continue this relationship if you are unable to travel," he said.

Neither Whinnery nor Schlieve was available for comment.

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