Saturday, January 3, 2009
Dexter Filkens, NYTimes, Bribes Corrode Afghans’ Trust in Government
David Barboza, NYTimes, Chinese Court Convicts 11 in Microsoft Piracy Case
Gary L. Wright, Charlotte Observer, Charlotte trio vying to be U.S. attorney -Ex-prosecutors are among at least 4 seeking the post; Hagan will endorse Shappert's successor to Obama
Diana B. Henriques, NYTimes, Madoff Trustee Seeks Wide Power to Subpoena
Houston Chronicle, ENRON - Former executive finishes sentence (w/ a hat tip to Bill Olis)
P.S. Ruckman, Pardon Power, Watch List: Texans? Or No Texans?
Friday, January 2, 2009
Eric Torbenson, Dallas Morning News, U.S. Attorney Roper quits to join white-collar practice
Carrie Johnson, Washington Post, End of the Year Brings A Burst of Settlements With Justice Department
Ben Conery, Washington Times, Blagojevich prosecutor short on time
John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum, Top Ten Legal Ethics Stories of 2008
More on Pardons & Commutations -
Charlie Savage NYTimes, has an article titled On Fast Track for Clemency, via the Oval Office and there are wonderful follow-ups from P.S. Ruckman Jr., Pardon Power, ABC News: Pardon Breakdown and The Times: On Pardons and Access . Some observations -
- The process has its issues and those who are less fortunate and don't have a connection may not have as good a chance of securing a pardon or commutation.
- Politics and/or influence may have played a factor and this needs to be scrutinized.
- The press is monitoring every pardon issued.
It's this last point that interests me. We see newspapers cutting staffs and suffering from the economy and also the effect of the Internet. Investigative reporters have served an important role in society and in uncovering many corruption and white collar crimes. So, too, they serve an important role in keeping the government in check. Will this continue and what happens if we lose the power of the press?
Addendum, Mary Flood, Houston Chronicle, Pardon watch on as transition nears -But it's doubtful any Houstonians will make the cut
Thursday, January 1, 2009
What's Coming in 2009
The New Year delivers a variety of interesting cases and issues in the white collar crime field, and many unresolved issues from last year. What can we expect to see (in no particular order):
- confirmation hearing on Eric Holder
- a new Attorney General with new policies and procedures
- Madoff - investigation, prosecution (perhaps a plea), sentencing?
- Blagojevich - will he be indicted and will it hold up?
- Jeff Skilling - a judicial opinion
- a re-evaluation of the merits of corporate criminal liability
- an SEC with increased regulatory power
- fraud as a new criminal law emphasis
- more judges sentencing outside the confines of the sentencing guidelines
Obviously, there will be plenty more. But I am confident that white collar crime will have a key focus in the upcoming year. So stay tuned to this blog. Your readership is appreciated and I wish everyone a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
2008 White Collar Crime Awards
Each year this blog has honored individuals and organizations for their work in the white collar crime arena by bestowing "The Collar" on those who deserve praise, scorn, acknowledgment, blessing, curse, or whatever else might be appropriate. I welcome comments from readers who would like to suggest additional categories or winners (or losers?).
With the appropriate fanfare, and without further ado,
The Collars for 2008:
The Collar for Best Supporting Actor - to the attorneys who represented actor Wesley Snipes, who was found not guilty of fraud and conspiracy and guilty of three misdemeanors
The Collar for Worst Stretching Exercise - to the prosecutors who charged Ben Kuehne with money laundering based upon his writing an opinion letter, a charge that was dismissed by the court
The Collar for Keeping the Biggest House of Cards Standing for the Longest Period of Time - Bernie Madoff is the leading contender
The Collar for Knowing When to Quit - to former plaintiffs tobacco litigation lawyer Dickie Scruggs who plead guilty to a single count
The Collar for the Best Autopsy on a Case - to former county coroner Cyril Wecht for his extensive post-trial arguments calling for no re-trial
The Collar for the Best Flip-Flop by a Former Prosecutor - to former Enron Task Force prosecutor Andrew Weissman, who argued for limits to corporate criminal liability in an amicus in the Second Circuit Ionia case
The Collar for the Most Efficient Decision - to Judge Posner, who wrote the opinion affirming Conrad Black's decision twenty days following oral argument
The Collar for the Most Bang for the Buck - Jack Abramoff, who in 2006, won The Collar for the Best Cooperating Witness, and in 2007 The Collar for the Best Skating Not on an Ice Rink (along with Andy Fastow)
The Collar for the Most Often Indicted Political Position - there is a recount on this one with Ted Stevens arguing that he can't be counted in the Senate category until after sentencing, Rod Blagojevich claiming that he should be able to be included in both the Senate and Governor category, and a text message received from former Detroit Mayor Kwane Kilpatrick asked whether we were including Puerto Rico's Governor in the count
The Collar for the Best Timing - a tie between DOJ for issuing new guidelines pertaining to principles of business prosecutions on the same day it lost the Stein case and Siemens for entering into a FCPA agreement prior to a change in administration
The Collar for the Best Parent - retired last year and renamed the Bill Olis Best Parent Award - unawarded this year since no one comes even close to Bill Olis
The Collar for Needing to Be Told "No" Twice - to the prosecutors who appealed Judge Lewis Kaplan's decision in the Stein case
President-Elect Obama has expressed his desire to have Eric Holder as his Attorney General. (see here). The initial comments focused on his role in the Marc Rich pardon (see here) and the questions he would likely face in light of his role in this case. And then we saw President Bush suddenly facing issues on one of his pardons. Bush now appears to think that he can rescind that pardon. Whether he can, remains to be seen. But what is important for Holder is that others realized what happens when you leave pardons to the last minute and don't vet them properly through all channels.
And although Holder is still likely to have questions on the pardon he participated in, there are likely to be new issues that will need to be discussed. For one, Edmund Mahony of the Hartford Courant has an article in Clinton-Era Sentence Reductions Could Trip Holder's Confirmation that raises questions about "sentence reductions he recommended in 1999."
Addendum - Doug Berman's Sentencing Law & Policy here
Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
The fifth circuit affirmed the conviction of a lawyer in a Fen Phen related case. (Opinion) The "jury convicted Arledge of conspiracy and fraud for his involvement in filing fraudulent claims to recover from the Diet Drug Qualified Settlement Funds I and II (collectively the "Settlement Fund"), funds set up to compensate victims of the diet drug Fen Phen." The defendant was convicted of a "count of conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (count 1), four counts of mail fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341 (counts 2–5), and two counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343 (counts 6–7). Arledge was found not guilty of one count of wire fraud and sixteen counts of money laundering." The court stated that the accused:
"was sentenced to sixty months’ imprisonment for each of counts 1 through 3, to run concurrently, and eighteen months’ imprisonment for each of counts 4 through 7, to run concurrently with each other and consecutively with his sentence for counts 1 through 3. This resulted in a total sentence of seventy-eight months’ imprisonment. In addition, he was sentenced to three years of supervised release on each of the counts of conviction, to run concurrently, and ordered to pay a $700.00 special assessment. In an Amended Judgment, he was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $5,829,344.90 and a forfeiture of $375,000.00."
On appeal the defendant:
"challenges his conviction for lack of sufficient evidence, alleges that the district court’s failure to admit key pieces of evidence deprived him of the ability to present a defense, disputes the admission of evidence related to charges of which he was later acquitted, and maintains that the use of the 2006 Sentencing Guidelines violated the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution. He also challenges the district court’s restitution order by asserting that the record did not support the district court’s calculation of the amount of "loss," argues that the restitution order violated the Eighth Amendment, maintains that the district court did not take into account requisite statutory factors, and asserts that the restitution order sets forth an unclear payment schedule."
The court affirmed the conviction and sentence, but vacated the restitution order and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion. The court found that three of the claims lacked evidence of the claims being fraudulent. In response to a government argument that these three claims should be included, the court held that restitution is not subject to harmless error. The court stated, "[w]ithout evidence that the claims were fraudulent, it is unclear that the Settlement Fund suffered any loss by paying these claims. The district court’s decision to include these three claims, totaling $54,000, without any evidence of fraud was an abuse of discretion."
Eduardo Porter, NYTimes, Ponzi Schemes: The Haul Gets Bigger, but the Fraud Never Changes
Media Center, Office of the Attorney General - State of N.Y., Attorney General Cuomo Prosecuting NYS Parole Board Chairman for Stealing State-Owned Laptop
DOJ Press Release, Second Arrest in Dreier Investment Fraud Case
Pamela A. MacLean, National LJ, law.com, Hedge fund sued over Madoff investments
Pamela A. MacLean, National LJ, law.com, A white-collar defender's take on what can be learned from the KPMG verdicts