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Chesley retires from practice of law in Ohio

Stanley M. Chesley, the famed class-action lawyer who was disbarred in Kentucky and faced the same fate in Ohio, gave the Ohio Supreme Court notice that he is "permanently retired" from the practice of law.

The Ohio Supreme Court's Office of Attorney Services told WVXU this morning that Chesley's retirement was effective Thursday.

It apparently means the end of a long career of pursuing high-profile class action lawsuits, dating back to his representation of the families of victims of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in 1977, which killed 165 people. He won $49 million for his clients.

In March, the Kentucky Supreme Court disbarred Chesley, saying he took more than $7 million in fees that he wasn't entitled to in the lawsuit against the makers of the diet drug fen-phen. Chesley said he did not know he was not entitled to the money.

Chesley faced being disbarred by the Ohio Supreme Court, which has a reciprocal agreement with Kentucky in such cases. Earlier, Chesley, who has been a lawyer since 1960, said he would fight to keep his law license in Ohio.

Earlier this week, seven members of the University of Cincinnati board of trustees wrote a letter to Chesley asking him to resign from that body. He did so.

Chesley could not be reached for comment immediately.

For decades, the lawyer has been a major fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. Chesley was close to former President Bill Clinton, who came to the Chesley home several times for fundraising events. In the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, he backed Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.

Howard Wilkinson is in his 50th year of covering politics on the local, state and national levels.