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Duquette countersues Smith Barney

PAUL MACOMBER

Charles Duquette has filed a countersuit against his former employers, Smith Barney Inc. and its two top Medford managers.

Among other things, Duquette's suit alleges fraud, breach of good faith and fair dealing and infliction of emotional distress.

It's the latest in a voluminous stack of legal actions -- documents in one case alone are more than — inches thick -- stemming from the sale of limited partnerships at the Medford financial planning office.

The company's lawsuit, filed in Jackson County Court in 1996, accuses Duquette, Lewis Aytes, Mark Degner and others for civil racketeering and fraud. The company said it paid out $717,339 to their former clients to compensate for overcharges in the resale of limited partnerships.

Aytes and Duquette contend the actions were taken with the knowledge of managers Bob Hutchins and William Smith. They say the company is trying to retaliate against Aytes for leaving the firm for Merrill Lynch.

Aytes filed a counterclaim within the original lawsuit; proceedings involving him were halted in October when he filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 13 of the Federal Bankruptcy Act.

In the newest action, filed in December, Duquette, who has moved to Tualatin, claims the company set him up by asking him to help reconcile paperwork involving an office bookkeeping error. He says the managers promised him no complaint would be filed against him, but instead filed a formal complaint with the National Association of Securities Dealers.

His lawsuit says as a result of Smith Barney's actions, he's been blackballed as a securities broker and seeks $5.7 million in damages.

Last August, the NASD fined Aytes $100,000 and Duquette was fined $50,000. Both were also suspended for 18 months. The regulators also fined Smith $20,000 for failing to adequately supervise the brokers.