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Famous and In Trouble? Kent Schaffer’s Your Man

Meet three celebs who were glad to have Houston’s lawyer-to-the-stars.

By Steven Devadanam November 29, 2015 Published in the March 2015 issue of Houstonia Magazine

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Kent Schaffer

Image: Brian Goldman

“A lot of people in my field tell you how wonderful they are, how smart they are,” says Kent Schaffer. “I kind of let my results talk for me.” Fellow attorney and Channel 2 legal analyst Brian Wice, who has known Schaffer since 1980 and worked with him on “countless cases,” says Schaffer’s results have earned him pinnacle status in the legal community. “Pound for pound,” says Wice, “he’s the best at what he does.”

Though he now focuses primarily on white-collar criminal defense, Schaffer was recently appointed, with Wice, as special prosecutor in the case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who was recently indicted by a grand jury on charges of securities fraud and failing to register with the State Securities Board.

But that’s just another high-profile case for the nattily attired Schaffer, whom we profiled in our December 2015 issue. He's made his living successfully defending corporate giants such as Robert Allen Stanford and celebrities such as Armie Hammer, Jon Hamm and Farrah Fawcett. A few case studies:

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A Hollywood Ending: Tom Sizemore

In September 2011, Sizemore, a ’90s Hollywood fan favorite, was arrested for allegedly violating probation from an old battery charge. Plagued by addiction and rehab stints, his career was suffering. Taking his case, Schaffer explained to a Los Angeles judge that, in fact, Sizemore was not in violation—that his previous attorney hadn’t filed proper paperwork on time and that any further probation would actually harm the embattled actor. The judge agreed, terminating Sizemore’s probation 18 months early.

“It was a masterful performance,” Sizemore tell us from New York, where, ironically, he’s shooting episodes of Law & Order. “I’ve been in court with some of the best lawyers available, and I can’t remember one word they said. … The judge was hanging on Kent’s every word.” The actor says he left the courthouse feeling “free for the first time in seven years,” and that Schaffer has taken his career “off of life support.”

The result is a Hollywood comeback story: with news of a clean, sober and refocused Sizemore, offers have been pouring in, and he will appear in more than one major Hollywood production next year. A grateful Sizemore recently starred in a short film, Pieces, written and directed by Schaffer’s son, Zack. “He’s absolutely brilliant,” says Sizemore of the attorney—who plays a detective in Pieces. “He has a nascent curiosity about life. He’s a renaissance man.”

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A Man of Letters: Oscar S. Wyatt

In 2007, Houston’s own Wyatt faced charges of bribery and was accused of violating the United Nations’ Iraqi oil-for-food sanctions. The oil giant turned to Schaffer, who was childhood friends with his sons. “It was personal with the Bushes,” says Schaffer of the administration’s pursuit of Wyatt. “Everyone knew they hated Oscar. It was no secret.”

Schaffer solicited letters from grateful people Wyatt had anonymously helped over the years, such as kidnapped oil workers whose release he'd secured and badly burned rig workers Wyatt had sent to surgeon Michael DeBakey, footing every expense.

“The judge had never seen such an outpouring,” says Schaffer of the letters of gratitude. “Oscar has done more to help people than any person I have ever known.” Thanks to Schaffer’s defense, Wyatt, facing a lengthy prison sentence, pled guilty and served just nine months.

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Image: Todd Spoth

Beating the Rap: James Prince

In 2007, J Prince, the owner/founder of Houston’s Rap-a-Lot Records, faced criminal charges and a civil lawsuit filed by rival record label owner Ronald “Ronnie” Bookman, who claimed that Prince had him brutally beaten for declining to sell Prince his share of a recording studio, Studio 7303. The case made national news.

That’s when Schaffer stepped in, not only disproving Bookman’s claims but also pointing out his own fraud and perjury. The lawsuit and charges were quickly dropped. “James is one of Houston’s real success stories,” says Schaffer, who counts himself a fan of Rap-a-Lot alum Scarface. “He rose from the slums to become one of Houston’s financial elite. Because he is black, his success was unacceptable to many, and many tried to destroy him. But today he is one of the country’s best-known boxing promoters, and he was a pioneer in the music industry.”

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