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O'Flaherty had agreed to represent Lambi in the Hodges case. But in February, O'Flaherty asked to be taken off the case.
In court papers, O'Flaherty says he hasn't been able to communicate with Lambi and has no knowledge of his whereabouts. He tells May that nothing has changed since he filed the motion to withdraw from the case.
"Where is he?" May asks.
"No idea. I'm sorry," O'Flaherty says.
May grants O'Flaherty's request. Meeting adjourned.
Before Lambi went into hiding, O'Flaherty filed an answer to Hodges' suit on Lambi's behalf. The response said Hodges no longer lived in the house at 3728 Holmes and that their business relationship ended in 2006.
Property records indicate that the relationship goes back several years. In 1996, Hodges and Lambi listed an Omaha address when they took out a mortgage on a piece of real estate in Kansas City.
Lambi is from Nebraska. He was admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association in 1985. He ran a Spaghetti Works restaurant in downtown Omaha for several years.
An Omaha World-Herald story from 1995 describes testimony that Lambi gave to state lawmakers when he and others in the bar-and-restaurant industry spoke against lowering the blood-alcohol intoxication limit from 0.10 to 0.08.
Identifying himself as an alcoholic, Lambi told a legislative committee that a lower limit would not have kept him from getting behind the wheel. "I think you need to take away their cars," he said.
A few months later, Lambi and Hodges bought their first property in Jackson County: a piece of ground near the Uptown Theater. In 1996, they bought an apartment building near Paseo High School.
Hodges and Lambi steadily added to their inventory. In 2003, they formed L&H Midtown Investments, which today controls several properties near 39th Street and Main, including the building that houses the Unicorn Theatre.
In 2007, Lambi, now working and living without Hodges, bought Westport Square, the strip of buildings at the southwest corner of Broadway and Westport Road. He also acquired the building that's leased by Harry's Bar and Tables.
Lambi was not a passive investor. He tried to evict the struggling Papa Kenos Pizzeria. He sued Starbucks Corp. after the coffee giant closed its store at 401 Westport Road. Lambi accused Starbucks of breaking an agreement to leave behind furniture and equipment that did not bear the company's mermaid trademark.
The end of Starbucks in Westport made national news. The New York Times used the event to illustrate the perils of rapid expansion. The Westport location was noteworthy because the independently owned Broadway Café, just one door south, had survived the incursion from its national-chain competitor.
Lambi's heart was with Broadway Café. He told The Kansas City Star that he hoped to replace Starbucks with a local business. "I will go so far to say I don't think we should have chains in Westport," he said.
Lambi established a reputation in midtown for being a man of action.
"When he wants to do something, it's 'Katy, bar the door!'" says Greg Patterson, a Kansas City real-estate broker.
Patterson had helped the community radio station KKFI 90.1 in its search for a new space. For years, the station wanted to escape its location at Westport and Roanoke roads — up a rickety flight of wooden stairs in the back lot of the Bluestem restaurant — for a space with more parking and greater accessibility for the disabled.