Famed money manager Mario Gabelli could find himself in hot water with the Justice Department.

In a court proceeding Wednesday, a Justice Department lawyer said prosecutors want to intercede in a civil fraud suit charging Gabelli with creating "sham'' companies to bid for cell-phone licenses.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its online edition that Assistant U.S. Attorney David Kennedy told the judge in the five-year-old civil lawsuit that his office wants to take over the litigation. Judge Paul Crotty, however, didn't immediately rule on the government's request.

The lawsuit alleges that Gabelli, the silver-haired money manager who is a frequent guest on CNBC, created sham companies to bid for cell-phone licenses in auctions run by the Federal Communication Commission. Gabelli has denied the allegations.