The man who is standing in O'Quinn's shoes throughout all this is the same man who stood by him as his attorney through many of those ethics complaints court proceedings: Gerald Treece
, the executor of O'Quinn's will.
"The moment that John O'Quinn died," Jefferson said, "Gerald Treece walked into a hornet's nest."
As executor of O'Quinn's will, Treece
is entitled to compensate himself reasonably for being in charge of liquidating O'Quinn's assets (like his giant car collection), channeling funds to the foundation and winding down the law firm while dealing with all of its lawsuits, among other responsibilities.
But "reasonable compensation" is a matter of opinion, and in a lawsuit, the foundation claims that Treece
has been paying himself millions more dollars than he's
earned and also overpaying third-party accountants and other professionals to do a lot of the work for him.
This has resulted, according to the foundation's attorneys, in Treece's
excessively spending $55 million that otherwise could have been used to help the children.
This is the kind of fight over money in which it's easy to burn through hundreds of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye.
Like most contested estate cases, it revolves around the wishes of a dead person who is no longer around to clear things up.
To date, according to Jefferson's answer to the lawsuit, Treece
has overseen the liquidation of more than $350 million in assets that include868 cars and 3,000 items of O'Quinn's memorabilia, settled more than $1 billion in debt, so far defended 35 lawsuits involving roughly 1,700 plaintiffs, and distributed about $75 million to the foundation.
Using discretion that O'Quinn gave him in his will, Treece
is giving himself $15.5 million for all that work.
But attorneys for the foundation say that, in addition to that being way too much, Treece
never adjusted the price to reflect the fact that he
delegated a lot of the work.
The foundation has also accused Treece
of unreasonably spending O'Quinn's estate money on things like paying for someone to do his
own personal tax return, paying someone $400 an hour to go to Verizon
to shop for a new cellphone for him, paying someone for investment advice, paying for a $50,000 Audi and paying his
gas money each month to get from The Woodlands to his
job as a law professor at South Texas College of Law
According to the suit, he's
even spent it on frivolous things like an application for an EZ tag and taking new cars for test drives.
In other words, things that don't have much to do with executing O'Quinn's will.
Jefferson has responded to all these allegations by, first, writing most of the above items off as "nickel-and-dime stuff" anyway, and clarifying that Treece
has since reimbursed the foundation for all those miscellaneous expenses.