Radford asked to surrender law license

Marilyn Tennissen May 16, 2007, 10:00am

Wendell "Chip" Radford Jr.

On June 1, a former assistant district attorney will no longer to be able practice law in the state of Texas.

Wendell "Chip" Radford Jr., pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to the offense of conspiracy to commit mail fraud after a complex scheme unraveled that involved Radford's legal work for employees of Helena Laboratories.

A petition for immediate interim suspension was filed by the Commission for Lawyer Discipline in Jefferson County District Court on May 15.

The Commission voted on April 26 to authorize the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel of the State Bar of Texas to seek an immediate interim suspension of Radford's license to practice law.

Effective June 1, Radford is prohibited "from practicing law in Texas, holding himself out as an attorney at law, performing any legal service for others, accepting any fee directly or indirectly for legal services, appearing as counsel or in any representative capacity in any proceeding in any Texas court or before any Texas administrative body," the agreed order states.

In addition, Radford is ordered to surrender his law license and permanent State Bar Card to the office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel in Houston by June 1.

The Immediate Interim Suspension will remain in effect until a final resolution of disciplinary pleadings filed.

Radford found himself in legal trouble when he became involved in a scheme that was underway by employees of a biotechnical company.

Helena Laboratories is a Beaumont company that manufactures testing materials for the biotechnical and biopharmaceutical industry. One of Helena's principal products, QuickGel, is a film gel that scientists use to secure and analyze blood serum and other DNA samples. According to court documents, in 2003, Helena employee Philip Guadagno, 56, of Vidor, discovered a process to dramatically improve or "derivatize" film gels.

Helena employees concealed the discovery and shipped the improved or "derivatized" material to an independent company in Ohio, Flexotech. Guadagno then used his position to cause Helena to order the derivatized material from Flexotech at inflated prices. The Ohio company repackaged the material received from Guadagno and sent the material and an invoice back to Helena. After Helena paid the Ohio company for the derivatized material, the Ohio company kicked back most of the money to the Helena employees.

According to additional documents and Radford's testimony in court, in February 2005, Guadagno sought legal advice from Radford who had a private legal practice in addition to serving in Jefferson County district attorney's office , and Radford agreed at that time to incorporate a consulting company for Guadagno and others. Radford formed a shell company named WindCat, LLC and opened up a bank account for WindCat.

Radford admitted in federal court in February that at sometime in March 2005 he came to understand that the company was being used as a shell corporation to disguise a kickback scheme.

Radford, 42, was initially charged with a total of 10 counts for conspiracy to commit mail fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. The other charges were dropped in exchange for Radford's guilty plea of conspiracy to commit mail fraud. He awaits sentencing by U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone.

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