Father of Teen That Fled to Israel in '97 Faces Possible Disbarment

SILVER SPRING, Maryland - Sol Sheinbein, a lawyer accused of helping his son flee to Israel to avoid murder charges in the United States, may be disbarred by Maryland's highest court.

Sheinbein, who works in Israel as a patent lawyer, followed his son Samuel Sheinbein to the country in 1997, shortly after the dismembered body of 19-year-old Alfredo Tello was found near their home in the eastern state of Maryland.

Samuel Sheinbein, who escaped extradition by claiming Israeli citizenship through his father, pleaded guilty to killing Tello in an Israeli court in 1999. He is serving a 24-year sentence in Israel but could have faced life in prison if tried in the United States. In a petition filed in the Court of Appeals, the Attorney Grievance Commission accuses the elder Sheinbein of hindering the investigation into Tello's death.The commission did not specify in its petition what punishment it is seeking for Sol Sheinbein, but disbarment is an option the court can consider.

Montgomery County State's Attorney Douglas Gansler said the elder Sheinbein's job doing patent work in Israel for American companies should be stopped. “In our view, it is insulting to the American system of justice,” Gansler said. Sheinbein would face trial on charges of obstructing justice if he returns to Maryland, Gansler said.

The 12-page petition contains allegations similar to ones police made. After learning his son was a suspect, it says, Sheinbein planned his son's escape and purchased tickets for him to Tel Aviv. On the day Tello's body was found, the petition alleges, the elder Sheinbein read a search warrant for his home - an indication he knew his son was under suspicion when he bought the airplane tickets.

The Court of Appeals ordered Montgomery County Circuit Judge S. Michael Pincus to hold a hearing on the commission's allegations and issue findings and recommendations for disciplinary action. Sheinbein does not need to be present at the hearings.