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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 joined the WVXU News Team after 30 years of covering local and state politics for The Cincinnati Enquirer. A native of Dayton, Ohio, Wilkinson has covered every Ohio governor’s race since 1974 as well as 12 presidential nominating conventions. His streak continued by covering both the 2012 Republican and Democratic conventions for 91.7 WVXU. Along with politics, Wilkinson also covered the 2001 Cincinnati race riots; the Lucasville Prison riot in 1993; the Air Canada plane crash at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in 1983; and the 1997 Ohio River flooding. The Cincinnati Reds are his passion. "I've been listening to WVXU and public radio for many years, and I couldn't be more pleased at the opportunity to be part of it,” he says.