Wednesday, April 30, 2008
A DOJ Press Release of the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Southern District of New York announces that the former chief operating officer and president of Monster Worldwide, Inc. was charged with securities fraud and conspiracy in connection with backdating of stock options. The press release states as the alleged criminal activity that:
"TREACY conspired with other former senior executives at Monster to systematically backdate stock option grants to Monster employees between 1997 and 2003, in an effort to provide
profitable options to employees without recording the required compensation expenses, thereby falsely inflating Monster's earnings. As a result, Monster’s public filings with the United
States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") between 1997 and 2005 fraudulently understated the company’s compensation expenses by a total of more than $300 million."
KDKA.com has an incredible tape from jurors and also with Wecht himself talking. He hits it on the money when he notes how powerful prosecutors can be. The very fact that citizens who served as jurors and heard the evidence in this case are speaking out, that Wecht is telling how he has been destroyed by enormous legal fees and the emotional strain placed upon him, makes one wonder where is the oversight of main justice and have there been any discussions of a deferred prosecution. (see here)
It is equally bothersome to hear the prosecution claiming they need outsider jurors for the retrial (see here). It sounds just like the defense argument in a much higher profile case - that is, Jeffrey Skilling's claim when being tried before a Houston jury.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This case is beginning to sound like a movie. As I previously noted here:
First there were questions about whether this case warranted a federal prosecution, and more importantly one with this many charges. Then there was a seven week trial with a long deliberation, but that ended with a hung jury. (see here) The post trial conduct by the FBI in questioning jurors certainly raised some eyebrows. (see here) There were even questions about how the jurors names were obtained. (see here) There have also been claims that the FBI fabricated a 2005 affidavit (see here). And there are claims that an excused juror did not want to leave the deliberations (see here). And the prosecution is arguing that they need "outsiders" to get a fair jury in the retrial (see here and here). And the judge responding to claims of bias, says he is not stepping aside. (see here and here) And you have the house committee asking for documents related to this case (see here). And there have been claims of this being a political prosecution (see here). And you have prominent players asking AG Mukasey to step in here. (see here)
Wouldn't this be a perfect case for a Frank Quattrone style deferred prosecution agreement (see here)?
And just when you think enough has happened here, there is more. The latest -
- The Pittsburgh Tribune Review (AP) - Wecht appeals to 3rd Circuit to overturn judge's decision
- The Pittsburgh Tribune Review - Judge won't dismiss charges against Wecht
- Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Wecht jurors surprised prosecutors seek retrial
So who will play Wecht is this movie?
Monday, April 28, 2008
Wall Street Journal - Gabelli Funds to Pay $16 Million To Settle SEC Market-Timing Case
ABA Law Jrl News - E-Mails Show More Abramoff Links to Ex-DOJ Staffers; Probe Continues
DOJ (Press Release) - Former State Prison Supervisor Sentenced for Obstruction of Justice-Related Charge (15 months in prison)
Houston Chronicle -Oscar Wyatt asks to finish his prison term in Houston
(esp) (w/ a hat tip to Bill Olis on the last item)
A press release of the DOJ states that Ronald L. Rodgers has appointed to serve as the U.S. Pardon Attorney. The release states:
"Rodgers has served with the Department of Justice since March 1999 in the Drug Intelligence Unit of the Criminal Division’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, where he has been Director of the Unit since September 2005.
"Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Rodgers served on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1977 to 1999. His final active duty assignment was as Circuit and Deputy Chief Military Judge of the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary from 1995 to 1999. During his time in the Marine Corps, Rodgers also gained several years experience as a prosecutor, defense counsel, and trial advocacy instructor.
Rodgers is a 1977 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and a 1983 graduate of the University of Dayton School of Law, where he graduated summa cum laude. Rodgers also attended the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College from 1989-90."
WSJ- Marketwatch - Wachovia Faces Money-Laundering Probe: Report
Washington Post (Reuters) - Wachovia Part of Probe into Latin Drug Money: Report
NYTimes - AP - Wachovia Pays $144 Million to Settle Marketing Claims
Addendum - See Wall St. Jrl Correction here.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Wesley Snipes received the maximum sentence for his convictions, a sentence of three years (see here). Co-defendants who were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and presenting a false claim to the IRS received 10 years and 4 years and 6 months. A likely question on appeal will be whether Wesley Snipes deserved to receive the maximum penalty as his sentence.
"'Snipes' long prison sentence should send a loud and crystal clear message to all tax defiers that if they engage in similar tax defier conduct, they face joining him and his co-defendants, . . . , as inmates in prison,' said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division." (see press release). But some may question whether an individual should receive the maximum sentence in order to provide deterrence to others. And should a person's celebrity status, warrant the imposition of a harsher sentence?
See also Doug Berman's Sentencing Law & Policy here.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
The government first proceeded with a criminal action against a former AOL executive. (see here and here). After a "not guilty," was returned by the jury, the government tried the civil route. Because the government has the ability to use parallel civil proceedings, they can proceed twice with basically the same evidence and not be precluded by claims of double jeopardy.
Although the government has the right and power to try a second time in a different forum, the results did not change with respect to the former AOL exec. The jury returned another win for the defense, resulting in a finding against the government's civil fraud charges. (see here)
Attorney Hank Asbill, a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, and attorney for the AOL exec, will be speaking as the keynote speaker at the forthcoming White Collar Crime Institute at Stetson U. College of Law's Tampa campus in Florida on May 8, 2008. To attend this function, see here. See here for more details.
The government asked for 3 years (see here) in a memo that focused on the criminal activity that formed the basis of the convictions against Snipes. It's a memo filled with numbers. In contrast, the defense asked for probation in memo that very much focused on the individual (see here-Download snipes20sentencing20memorandum.pdf) The defense memo was accompanied with letters in support, something that is common in white collar cases. (see here - Download snipes20exhibits.pdf ). As noted by Professor Paul Caron on the Tax Prof Blog, there are an array of letters including the celebrity letters. (see here) One very thoughtful letter caught my eye as it was written by Marc Greenberg, professor of law and director of the intellectual property program at Golden Gate University Law School. Now the decision rests in the hands of the judge. Stay tuned.
(esp)(w/thanks to Whitney Curtis)
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Corporations reaching deferred or non-prosecution agreements with the government, often find themselves paying money and offering cooperation in return for an agreement that will allow the company to continue its existence. From this cooperation, which in some cases includes a waiver of attorney-client privilege, comes the indictment of individuals within the company. From the government, and sometimes the corporations perspective, these folks are the employees that failed to adhere to internal memorandum and internal regulation, and instead decide to break the law.
This week we see the aftermath of the Bristol-Myers agreement as the DOJ in a press release states "that the former senior vice president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS) [ ] was indicted for his [alleged]role in lying to the federal government about a patent deal involving the popular blood-thinning drug, Plavix, used by heart attack, stroke and other patients." "On June 11, 2007, BMS agreed to plead guilty and pay a $1 million criminal fine for misleading the government about the Plavix patent deal." It is, therefore, not surprising to see an individual as opposed to a company prosecution happening here.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
It has been several years since the investigation of Jack Abramoff and over two years since he plead guilty and received a seventy month sentence (see here). But the dominoes continue to fall. (see here).
This time it is someone who was with the DOJ. The LA Times in an article titled, "Ex-Justice official is charged in corruption inquiry in connection with Jack Abramoff" tells the background of this former DOJ attorney and tells of the alleged favors received. The DOJ proceeding against a DOJ person is highlighted in the headline over at the ABA Jrl Law News - DOJs Abramoff Probe Ensares One of its Own.
The press anticipates a plea here, which raises questions of who will this new defendant be a witness against. As there are clear benefits to cooperation, and the more cooperation provided the better the deal, it serves an accused well to offer testimony against others in order to receive a lower sentence. The continual fear in these cases is that with such a strong motivation to provide testimony, one has to question the credibility of the testimony that is received.
Phillyburbs.com - News orgs appeal judge's decision to shield jurors' names (Wecht Case)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Wecht lawyers seek dismissal (3rd time)
It is without doubt that this case has been enormously controversial. First there were questions about whether this case warranted a federal prosecution, and more importantly one with this many charges. Then there was a seven week trial with a long deliberation, but that ended with a hung jury. (see here) The post trial conduct by the FBI in questioning jurors certainly raised some eyebrows. (see here) There were even questions about how the jurors names were obtained. (see here) There have also been claims that the FBI fabricated a 2005 affidavit (see here). And there are claims that an excused juror did not want to leave the deliberations (see here). And the prosecution is arguing that they need "outsiders" to get a fair jury in the retrial (see here and here). And the judge responding to claims of bias, says he is not stepping aside. (see here and here) And you have the house committee asking for documents related to this case (see here). And there have been claims of this being a political prosecution (see here). And you have prominent players asking AG Mukasey to step in here. (see here)
Wouldn't this be a perfect case for a Frank Quattrone style deferred prosecution agreement (see here)?
A press release of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York reports that "a former Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) Revenue Agent -- was sentenced [ ] in Manhattan federal court to a year in jail for carrying out a scheme to obstruct the IRS by fraudulently attempting to sell to other taxpayers, and fraudulently using on his own personal income tax returns, tax losses belonging to a separate company he controlled."
Press Release - Download willner20sentencing20pr.pdf
Monday, April 21, 2008
A Press Release of the US Attorneys Office for the Middle District of California reports on the charging of a former IRS Agent "in relation to a securities fraud scheme that took more than $10 million from hundreds of victims across the country." The release also notes that there was a plea to "a two-count information that accuse[d] him of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and subscribing to a false tax return." The plea agreement provides for a guilty plea to these two felony counts.
WASHINGTON — A former employee of a Long Island, N.Y., defense contractor pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to rig bids on military contracts for Navy straps that are used to secure munitions and other supplies, the Department of Justice announced today. Navy straps are a type of tiedown equipment used by the U.S. Navy to secure munitions and other supplies for transportation on ships and airplanes....
DOJ Press Release -
Former Executive Agrees to Serve Jail Time
WASHINGTON — A former U.S. executive of Manuli Rubber Industries SpA, a Milan, Italy-based marine hose manufacturer, has agreed to plead guilty and serve jail time for participating in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices and allocate market shares of marine hose in the United States and elsewhere, . . .
DOJ Press Release -
WASHINGTON — Tokyo-based Japan Airlines International Co. Ltd. (JAL) has agreed to plead guilty and pay a $110 million criminal fine for its role in a conspiracy to fix rates for international cargo shipments, the Department of Justice announced today. . .
Saturday, April 19, 2008
The former major of Newark, Sharpe James, was convicted following a jury trial. A press release of the US Attorney's Office in New Jersey tells of his conviction on corruption-related charges. It notes that "James remains under indictment on another set of chages related to his alleged fraudulant use of city credit cards.
See also NYTimes here.
Friday, April 18, 2008
The Sentinel Online (AP) - Judge Warns Wecht Attorneys About Setting Media "Firestorm"
Phillyburbs.com - House Committee Asks for Documents Related to Wecht Case
ABA Journal News - FBI Expects Massive Rise in Mortgage Fraud Cases
Thursday, April 17, 2008
The Federal Bar Association (Tampa Bay), ABA, and Stetson University College of Law are sponsoring a White Collar Crime Institute on Thursday, May 8, 2008 at Stetson's Tampa Law Center. To registrar and to receive more information see here - Download wci_flyer.pdf
Highlights of the program include:
- U.S. v. You - Ethically Representing Your Client Without Becoming One
- Sentencing Guidelines - Recent Developments
- Indemnification - Who Pays for an Individual's Representation?
- The Ethics of Advising the Corporation on Internal Investigations - Does Attorney/Client Privilege Matter?
- Representing the Individual in the World of Corporate Cooperation
- Sentencing and Beyond
- Legal Ethics - A View from the Bench
The keynote luncheon speaker is Hank W. Asbill. Others scheduled to speak include:
- Brian Albritton, Holland & Knight LLP
- John Badalamenti, Office of the Federal Defender, Middle District of Florida
- Amy Baron-Evans, Sentencing Resource Counsel, Federal Public Defender Office
- Rachelle D. Bedke, U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida
- John Bencivenga, PMSI
- Hon. Susan C. Bucklew, District Judge, Middle District of Florida
- Steven E. Chaykin, Akerman Senterfitt
- Hon. Anne C. Conway, District Judge, Middle District of Florida
- Patrick Doherty, Brown & Doherty, Attorneys at Law Magistrate Judge, Middle District of Florida
- Donna L. Elm, Assistant Federal Public Defender
- Hon. Patricia C. Fawsett, Chief District Judge, Middle District of Florida
- James E. Felman, Kynes, Markman & Felman, P.A.
- John M. Fitzgibbons, Law Office of John Fitzgibbons
- Lee Fugate, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
- Peter E. George, George & Titus, P.A.
- Robert S. Griscti, Law Firm of Robert S. Griscti, P.A.
- Mark L. Horwitz, Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz, P.A.
- William F. Jung, Jung & Sisco, P.A.
- L.T. Lafferty, Fowler White Boggs Banker, P.A.
- John F. Lauro, Lauro Law Firm
- Hon. Richard A. Lazzara, District Judge, Middle District of Florida
- Charles B. Lembcke, Charles B. Lembcke, P.A.
- Hon. Thomas B. McCoun III, Magistrate Judge, Middle District of Florida
- Robert Mosakowski, U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida
- Jane W. Moscowitz, Moscowitz & Moscowitz, P.A.
- Kevin J. Napper, Carlton Fields, P.A.
- Robert E. O'Neill, U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Florida
- Edward J. Page, Carlton Fields, P.A.
- Paul I. Perez, Fidelity National Financial, Inc.
- Ellen S. Podgor, Stetson University College of Law
- Linda F. Ramirez, Linda Friedman Ramirez, P.A.
- Adam P. Schwartz, Carlton Fields, P.A.
- Hon. Mary S. Scriven,
- Elaine Terenzi, Chief, U.S. Probation Office, Middle District of Florida
- Gary R. Trombley, Trombley & Hanes
- Morris "Sandy" Weinberg, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP
- David T. Weisbrod, Attorney at Law