published : 2023-12-01

Brian Laundrie Hired Wyoming Lawyer with Ties to bin Laden's Bodyguard in Guantanamo

New Lawsuit Filing Reveals Laundrie's Defense Team and Suspicious Timing

Security camera footage from the Whole Foods in Jackson, Wyoming, shows a clear image of Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie browsing the shelves on the last day she was seen alive. (Taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV)

Security camera footage from a Whole Foods in Jackson, Wyoming, has surfaced, showing Gabby Petito and her suspected killer Brian Laundrie together on the last day she was seen alive, Aug. 27, 2021.

In an exclusive revelation, it has been uncovered that Brian Laundrie retained a high-powered defense team in Wyoming, paid for by his parents, over a week before his fiancée Gabby Petito was reported missing.

The latest amended complaint in the Petito family lawsuit against Laundrie's parents and their attorney alleges that they were aware of Petito's demise and the location of her remains, but deceived her parents, giving them false hope of finding her alive, all while protecting their son.

The filing, submitted after Petito lawyer Pat Reilly deposed the Laundries and their attorney, claims that Laundrie urgently contacted his parents on Aug. 29, 2021, in a 'frantic' phone call, revealing that Gabby was 'gone' and he needed a lawyer.

Gabby Petito, a 22-year-old from Long Island, was reported missing on Sept. 11, 2021, after Brian Laundrie returned home alone from their cross-country road trip that began in early July.

According to the document, on Sept. 2, 2021, Laundrie's parents informed their attorney Steve Bertolino about their son's involvement in Petito's disappearance and provided him with a retainer. On the same day, Bertolino entered into a fee agreement with a criminal defense firm in Laramie, Wyoming, called Fleener Peterson LLC.

Tom Fleener, partner at Fleener Peterson LLC, the Wyoming law firm that took on Brian Laundrie as a client, is pictured during a previous legal case. (Taken with a Nikon D850)

Tom Fleener, partner at Fleener Peterson and an Army veteran, has represented Guantanamo Bay detainee Ali al Bahlul and gained recognition for it. However, Fleener declined to comment on the Laundrie matter.

Brian Laundrie's attorney Steve Bertolino confirmed that he collected a $25,000 retainer for his legal role from the Laundries and used it to pay Fleener Peterson. He stated that he has not received any further payments from the Laundries.

Bertolino further reached out to other firms in Wyoming, including a public defender in Teton County where Petito's remains were ultimately discovered on Sept. 19, 2021.

The heart of the lawsuit revolves around a statement made by Bertolino on Sept. 14, 2021, on behalf of the Laundries, expressing their 'hope' that Gabby would be found and 'reunited with her family.' This statement has been deemed outrageous by Petito's family due to the alleged knowledge possessed by the Laundries about her murder.

Bertolino justified the statement, citing pressure from media coverage and protesters outside the Laundrie home. He also mentioned that Richard Stafford, an attorney for Petito's family, would have taken similar measures to protect his clients during his own deposition.

According to Bertolino, Laundrie was incoherent and unable to communicate during his phone call, which ended abruptly. As a result, Bertolino claims that Laundrie's parents had no knowledge of Petito's murder.

Gabby Petito's parents, Joseph Petito and Nichole Schmidt, seen in a Florida courtroom during a hearing in their lawsuit against the Laundrie family. (Taken with a Sony Alpha a7 III)

It was Brian Laundrie who, without contacting anyone, left her remains in Wyoming and drove Petito's van to his parents' house in Florida.

The lawsuit alleges that the Laundries had direct knowledge of Petito's death and likely knew the location of her remains when they embarked on a camping trip with their children and grandchildren in early September, before Petito's mother could report her missing.

A suicide note found near Brian Laundrie's remains in a Florida swamp, located just ten minutes from his parents' house in North Port, revealed his confession to killing Petito. The note also unveiled that, in the days following her death, Laundrie sent fake text messages to himself and Petito's mother from her phone, pretending she was still alive.

Gabby Petito's parents have since become advocates for missing persons and victims of domestic violence, as their daughter's case gained national attention in 2021.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).