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City hall Changes defense counsel in URS countersuit

Switcheroo! City Hall has changed defense counsel in the URS countersuit, moving the case from Kaufman & Cumberland to Squire Sanders & Dempsey heavy and mayoral pal Fred Nance. "There's no issue with counsel," says administration flack Brian Rothenberg, noting that the change gives K&C more time to concentrate on the legal battle over the IX Center. It also brings the URS fracas into the inner circle of Imperial Mayor Mike White, who is accused in the suit of manipulating the airport parking problem to the benefit of another friend, Nate Gray. Does this mean that White is seriously concerned about the merits of URS's case? "The merits of the case are that we filed suit against them because the [parking garage] door was too low," says Rothenberg. But who's ducking now?

The most sought-after woman in town these days is Nancy Said, a close friend of murder victim Methal Dayem. Said reportedly lived in the West Side neighborhood where Dayem was shot and might be able to explain why Dayem was there that night -- a key question in resolving whether the shooting was an honor killing. "She has eluded both sides in this case," says defense attorney Jerome Emoff, who's had an investigator looking for Said for six months. Prosecutors have an arrest warrant out for Said, but even the Sheriff's Department has been unable to track her down. "I have no idea [if she's in the city]," says prosecutor Carmen Marino. "She has family throughout the country." As a social companion of Dayem and defendants Yezen Dayem and Musa Saleh, Said is also said to have some interesting tales to tell about nights out in the Flats.

Female victims took another hit recently in the case of Ben Mallory, the Ohio University frat boy turned alleged rapist, whose drunken sex session with classmate Audrey DeLong in a dorm shower generated a spate of lawsuits. After Mallory was expelled, he beat a sexual assault rap and filed a civil suit against DeLong, which has been settled with a remarkable statement from her: "I accept responsibility for my drinking and behavior on the evening of November 19 and 20, 1997. The expulsion of Benjamin Mallory from Ohio University and his prosecution . . . was unfortunate and regrettable." Credit Cleveland attorney Jan Roller for the settlement, further details of which she refuses to divulge. Roller is pursuing another lawsuit on behalf of Mallory against the university, and promises, "The case very much moves on. It's not going away."

That was Councilman Mike Dolan huddling with Continental Airlines President Greg Brenneman on the second floor of City Hall last week, drawing glares from mayoral friends filing into the Imperial Office for a meeting. The fume-ometer went up a few more degrees when Dolan hand-delivered a package for Brenneman during the meeting, in a large City Council envelope marked CONFIDENTIAL. "It wasn't a big deal -- just some construction and financial information relating to the new runway," says Dolan. But it yanked somebody's chain. The very next day, Dolan was invited to lunch with mayoral confidante Carole Hoover, who promptly started pumping him about whether he plans to run for mayor. "I didn't let on that I was or wasn't," Dolan says coyly. "Right now, I'm just trying to do my job and get this runway built. At the appropriate time, everybody will know who's running for mayor."

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