To view original article click here
July 31, 1997
Author: VANESSA BAUZA, Staff Writer
After writing the note, Lavallee set out for his attorney’s office in Miami on Tuesday. He apparently knew he would never return to the small Hollywood apartment he shared with his wife of 26 years
Armed with a pistol, a stun gun and a metal pipe, Lavallee planned to get even with the man he thought had ruined his life.
After waiting in attorney Robert Spiegelman’s office for an hour, Lavallee tortured Spiegelman with the stun gun, then shot him in the leg before killing himself.
Lavallee, 67, who was born in Lowell, Mass., and later moved to Miramar and Hollywood, ran a lounge called Gil’s Pub in North Miami for 19 years. He hit hard times about 10 years ago and had to close the lounge and sell his Miramar home.
He blamed lawyers for his financial ruin.
“He went crazy when he lost everything,” Wilma Lavallee said. “He thought one day we would retire but we were ruined. He couldn’t get it off his mind.”
Depressed, Lavallee whiled away the hours staring at the television with his head in his hands.
His life’s work gone, Lavallee spiraled into fits of anger.
Wilma Lavallee said her husband had threatened to kill himself about eight years ago. Since then he had seen several psychiatrists and was on medication.
Spiegelman, who was in good condition at Baptist Hospital in Miami on Wednesday, recalled handling two cases for Lavallee about 10 years ago, winning settlements totaling about $55,000.
One of the cases was a malpractice suit against Lavallee’s former attorney, Ron Levy. Spiegelman said he settled the malpractice case for $20,000.
Lavallee accepted the settlement, but later decided he wanted more money.
When Spiegelman told him he could not change the court-approved settlement, Lavallee filed a complaint with the Florida Bar. The complaint was dismissed.
Spiegelman said he had not seen Lavallee again until Tuesday, when the Hollywood man showed up at his office under an assumed name. Spiegelman was busy, but agreed to see Lavallee, whom he didn’t recognize.
After the two walked into an office and spoke for a while, Lavallee pulled the pistol and stun gun from his briefcase.
“He pushed me up against the bookcases. . . . I figured he would shoot me in the back of the head. I couldn’t move,” Spiegelman said.
Lavallee shot Spiegelman in the leg, and then committed suicide by shooting himself in the chin.
Lavallee claimed Spiegelman had a conflict of interest because he and Levy went to law school together. Spiegelman denies any conflict.
“I never compromised his interests,” Spiegelman said. “I would never do that. I worked for him diligently.