By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Tanks a lot, Mr. Loncar
Tank-driving attorney Brian Loncar doesn't see the inside of a courtroom that often. After all, as Dallas Observer staff writer Thomas Korosec revealed in his January 9, 1997, cover story "Smash 'em and smile," Loncar essentially ran a lawsuit mill--where untrained, underpaid staff churned personal injury claims. In the past, at least, Loncar hardly ever even met with a client, much less appeared in court.
But Loncar did show up in a dingy municipal courtroom last week to face a charge of criminal mischief for swiping some 500 copies of the Observer issue featuring Korosec's story.
The big-bellied attorney managed to squirm out from under the charge after agreeing to pay $500 in restitution for the stolen copies. He promptly scrawled a personal check to the Observor [sic]. "Peace," Loncar said as he handed over the check, which was decorated with a picture of five naked cherubs. In exchange, the Observer agreed that we would only report the settlement in Buzz. Although the Observer made its point, we feel bad for all the witnesses who were dying to tell their Loncar stories.
There was 32-year-old Mark Farr, a waiter at Kathleen's Art Cafe, who saw Loncar steal all the restaurant's Observer copies: "I looked over and saw Brian Loncar all hunkered down with a big stack of Observers stuck between his legs. He looked like an ape. He was shooting out the door. I saw his picture on the cover and thought he must be getting some copies for his family. Then I thought no, no one ends up on the cover of the Observer if it's good."
Then there was Observer editor Julie Lyons and former columnist Laura Miller, who, after receiving tips that Loncar and his minions were hauling off stacks of Observers, drove to his office with a posse of Observer employees. "There was an enormous mountain of Observers sitting in his office--the one with the putting green out front," Miller said. "An Observer employee was trying to take a picture of the pile, and one of Loncar's people got mad and pushed me."
Recently, Loncar told Korosec that he's turned over a new leaf. "I'm just a family guy hanging around Highland Park. Got five kids. I coach soccer.
"I'm doing a drink-and-drive commercial...I had an ethics guy come in and give a seminar in my office. I plan on being part of this legal establishment for a long time. You're seeing a nicer, gentler Brian Loncar."
He's also settled out of court with one of the two women who sued him for sexual harassment. "You know, she only worked for me for three months," Loncar said, going on to show the depth of his remorse. "She had a lawyer on her case before she even left. She's a rather large woman. She weighed about 300 pounds. I don't know if you knew that."
Nicer and gentler? Hah. He's still no gentleman.
--Compiled from staff reports by Patrick Williams
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