The City Council is quickly running through taxpayer money paid to two top-of-the-line law firms and a high-profile attorney hired to advise and represent members and staffers snagged in a slush-fund probe - and has even quietly signed another firm, The Post has learned.
White-collar crime specialist Steptoe & Johnson so far has been paid $122,173.
A $95,000 retainer for the firm Sullivan & Cromwell already has been depleted.
And ex-federal prosecutor Lee Richards, who charges $600 an hour, has been hired as personal criminal defense lawyer for Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
Now, The Post has learned, the firm Brune and Richard was hired Sept. 30 with a $90,000 retainer - and no public announcement. This, despite assurances from Quinn the process would be transparent.
Quinn spokeswoman Maria Alvarado said the latest firm was brought on board in case any conflicts of interest arose for people seeking help from Steptoe & Johnson.
Alvarado refused to release the names of individuals who tapped into the Steptoe fund, saying it is "confidential information."
A council source, however, said it was staffers - not members - who have sought advice.
Since 2002, the council hid $17 million in grants to nonexistent organizations and later gave the money to individual members for projects in their districts.
The city Department of Investigation and the US Attorney's Office in New York have launched joint probes into the practice.