Hounded by creditors, former lawyer Chesley is selling his $8 million digs

Indian Hill resident calls it an act of downsizing, not a distress sale

Fending off a $25 million civil judgment the last two years, the well-known former lawyer Stan Chesley is now trying to sell his 21,000-square-foot chateau in Indian Hill.

Chesley, who retired from practicing law in 2013 after being disbarred by the Kentucky Supreme Court, insists he’s not selling to pay off debts. “We’re looking to downsize,” he told CityBeat. He and his wife, federal judge Susan Dlott, have owned the house 11 years.

The house sits on five-plus acres on a quiet stretch of Camargo Road. It has six bedrooms, a wine cellar, a mini-theater, seven bathrooms, a formal garden, a 20-car garage, a swimming pool, a built-in hot tub and a kitchen bigger than those of many restaurants. In other words, Hamilton County's Downton Abbey, minus the butlers, maids and below-deck prattle. The listing price? $8 million.

The money could come in handy if Chesley is ultimately forced to pay the $25 million civil judgment handed down in a Boone County, Ky., courtroom in 2014. The money is owed to victims of the fen-phen diet supplement scam. Their out-of-court settlement, a judge decreed, was deflated by excessive legal fees charged by Chesley and three other lawyers. The victims have been trying to collect the money ever since. Their lawyer, Angela Ford of Lexington, has also been pursuing $59 million in personal assets that Chesley transferred to his now-defunct law firm.

Chesley, meanwhile, has used Ohio courts to keep those creditors at bay. At one point, Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Robert Ruehlman blocked the collection effort, only to be reversed in June by the Ohio Supreme Court. The high court wrote that the judge had “no legal authority” to block enforcement of the Kentucky judgment. Ruehlman dismissed the case in August.

Chesley’s legal jeopardy in Kentucky became more dire when Boone County Circuit Judge James Schrand issued a warrant for his arrest in October 2015. That prompted another lawsuit by Chesley, this time against Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil, to block service of the warrant. To this day, Hamilton County won’t hand Chesley over to Boone County authorities.

“The Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department said they wouldn’t serve the warrant until they run it through their prosecutor (Joe Deters),” said Jim Beach, who heads the extradition program for the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, “and Deters’ office said they weren’t going to serve it.”

Julie Wilson, spokeswoman for prosecutor Deters, did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Beach said the arrest warrant is a civil warrant, not a criminal warrant, but is nonetheless “extraditable” between Ohio and Kentucky. He said Hamilton County routinely serves Boone County arrest warrants, albeit criminal warrants.

“They serve them every day for us, just about,” Beach said. “I literally talk to Hamilton County every day of the week about people they pick up for us.” 

Although Hamilton County’s cooperation appears to be a “dead issue,” Beach said, the arrest warrant for Chesley remains active.

“If he came to Kentucky and somebody were to pull him over or if he tried to fly out of their airport, he could be picked up,” Beach said. 

Chesley, 80, did not want to talk about his legal issues or his house sale.

“It’s not a distress sale,” he said.

CONTACT JAMES McNAIR: j[email protected]@JMacNews on Twitter / 513-665-4700, x. 142