Friday, April 3, 2009
Brian Baxter, AMLaw Daily, DOJ Charges First UBS Client in Tax Case
Editorial, NYTimes, Mr. Holder and the Ted Stevens Case
James Rowley & Justin Blum, Bloomberg, Holder Pledges Caution in Prosecuting Public Corruption Cases
Larry Ribstein, Ideoblog, After Stevens, what about Skilling?
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Rod Blagojevich and 5 others were indicted in a 75 page document that included a myriad of different federal statutes, such a mail and wire fraud, false statements and RICO. The Indictment with its 19 counts (16 against Blagojevich) claim that he "allegedly used his office in numerous matters involving state appointments, business, legislation and pension fund investments to seek or obtain such financial benefits as money, campaign contributions, and employment for himself and others, in exchange for official actions, including trying to leverage his authority to appoint a United States Senator." One interesting aspect of the Indictment is how prosecutors framed the Enterprise for the RICO charge. They call it the "Blagojevich Enterprise." The enterprise is an association in fact comprised of "defendant Rod Blagojevich, the Office of the Governor of Illinois, and Friends of Blogojevich." Will Blagojevich have any friends left by the time this case progresses to trial, if in fact it does?
DOJ Press Release here.
The first sentence given to a former General Re executive was for two years (see here). The second individual, AIGs former VP of reinsurance, was given four years (see here). The third person was sentenced to one year and a day (see here). And now a fourth person may be added to the prison system, this time with a sentence of 18 months. Colleen McCarthy of Business Insurance Magazine provides a detailed accounting of the sentencing hearing of a former finance exec at General Re. (see here). Some comments:
- Considering that the judge had previously looked at a significant loss figure, the sentence could have been extreme. (see here) One also had to be concerned about the effect of recent happenings at AIG and the public reaction -- which fortunately did not, as it should not, have come into play here.
- The judge in each of these cases appears to be sentencing the individual and not limiting the decision to arithmetic - and this is important. What is particularly noteworthy here is that the court credited the fact that "Ms. Monrad was not motivated by personal gain."
- The government needs to stop arguing that a convicted defendant is refusing to take responsibility for his or her actions. If a person is appealing a case - claiming innocence, and arguing that the conviction should not stand - how can you ask that person to take responsibility? To accept the government's argument would be to place the individual in a "Catch-22" position of maintaining innocence but also saying they are sorry for committing the act. It would render moot innocence claims in appellate arguments. We have an appellate system for a reason, and it should be respected.
- Even though the defendant was fortunate that the sentence was lower than the guidelines, it is still a sentence to prison for someone who had no prior criminal record. This is yet another indication that the days of probation for those convicted of white collar crimes has passed.
- Every time someone is given a prison sentence it is important to recognize that the sentence not only affects them, but all the family and friends that will suffer the ramifications of that sentence.
Addendum - Jane Mills & David Voreacos,Gen Re's Monrad Gets 18 Months in AIG Investor Fraud
Pamela MacClean, NLJ, law.com, Oregon AG asks that state employee pension fund be named co-lead plaintiff in UBS securities fraud class action
Allan Lengel, Ticklethewire,com, Commentary: Justice Failed to Deliver Justice in the Sen. Stevens Trial
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
DOJ Press Release, Hitachi Executive Indicted for his Role in LCD Price-Fixing Conspiracy
Rachel Tobin Ramos, AJC, Former Home Depot manager gets 5 years for kickbacks
What would Conrad Black say to the Chicago Tribune story - Sun-Times files for bankruptcy
Pepper Hamilton Successfully Defends Attorney in Federal Criminal Case ("individual charged as a co-conspirator in a case involving the governor of Puerto Rico") (plea "to misdemeanor and sentenced" to $3,000 fine)
Alison Frankel, American Lawyer, law.com, Former Stanford Exec Facing Criminal Charges Sues Proskauer for Malpractice
Ashby Jones, WSJ, Defendants, With Assets Frozen, Find It Tough to Hire Attorneys
Law.com (AP), Stanford Denies Wrongdoing, Wants Money for Lawyer
Georgetown University Law Center and the American Criminal Law Review are hosting a Corporate Criminal Law Conference: Achieving the Right Balance: The Role of Corporate Criminal Law in Ensuring Corporate Compliance on Tuesday, April 21, 2009. The conference will focus on the current state of corporate criminal law. Participants will also analyze corporate compliance programs and how a "good" corporate compliance program should be considered by prosecutors.
Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. The program will follow from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The event will be held at Georgetown University Law Center located at 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20001.
Luncheon keynote speaker Larry D. Thompson Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel PepsiCo, Inc.
Luncheon keynote speaker
Larry D. Thompson
Senior Vice President, Secretary and General Counsel
Other confirmed speakers include:
, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice
Robert B. Fiske Jr
Robert B. Fiske Jr
., Partner, Davis, Polk & Wardell
Michele A. Roberts
Michele A. Roberts
, Partner, Akin Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld
Professor Sara Sun Beale
Professor Sara Sun Beale
, Charles L.B. Lowndes Professor, Duke University School of Law
Professor Pamela H. Bucy
Professor Pamela H. Bucy
, Bainbridge Professor of Law, University of Alabama School
Professor Ellen S. Podgor
Professor Ellen S. Podgor
, Associate Dean for Faculty Development & Electronic Education, Professor of Law, Stetson University College of Law
For more information please contact Michelle Kepick by calling (202) 463-5819 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Sponsored byIn cooperation with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
A letter from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts informs the courts, defenders, and probation officers that "defendants who have been convicted of possessing false, stolen, or unlawfully produced identification documents, in violation of 18 U.S.C.§ 1028 (a)(4) or (6), may have been incorrectly sentenced under that statute's felony provisions, instead of the misdemeanor penalty provisions."
See Letter here -Download DOJ_Errors_in_1028_Prosecutions_-_DIR9-010
AG Eric Holder sets the tone for this new DOJ (see here) in his DOJ Press Release which states, "After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial. In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial."
This dismissal is monumental in terms of sending a message that this justice department will be very different. Many years ago a group of AG's signed an amicus brief in the case of Gideon v. Wainwright advocating for the defendant. They wanted a fair fight in court, and recognized the importance of the right to counsel to achieving justice.What happened today is on par with what happened back then. It is a recognition that prosecutors are not merely advocates, but rather "ministers of justice." Today an Attorney General took the side of justice.
What Others Are Saying:
Ashby Jones, Breaking News: Gov. to Drop All Charges Against Ted Stevens, WSJ Blog here
Doug Berman, Sentencing Law & Policy here
Neil A. Lewis, N.Y. Times,U.S. to Drop Case Against Ex-Senator From Alaska
Erika Bolstad & Richard Mauer, Anchorage Daily News, Attorney general drops Stevens prosecution
It is definitely a new DOJ, and congratulations go to them for acting as true "ministers of justice." In a rare move, the Acting Assistant AG filed a Motion of the United States to Set Aside the Verdict and Dismiss the Indictment With Prejudice. Information was not provided to the accused, and the government admits that this information would have allowed for a cross-examination and arguments to the jury. Brady violations occur, but it is rare that a prosecutor openly admits to such wrongdoing. More importantly, moving to set aside the verdict and dismiss the indictment with prejudice speaks to a prosecutor who acts appropriately when an injustice has occurred. It is clear that the new administration is aiming to be "ministers of justice." We are all fortunate.
Defendant Wesley Snipes made a Motion for Limited Travel for Work Obligations. He sought permission to travel outside the United States for work on two films (Gallowwalker and Game of Death). The government objected to this post trial bail "on the grounds that Defendant Snipes traveled to Dubair, United Arab Emirates, in late November 2008 without obtaining prior permission from the Court." The court acknowledged that Snipes had violated his conditions of release for several reasons including "failing to notify his Pretrial Services Officer when his trip to Bangkok was canceled." But as the court noted, "[w]hile it does appear that on two occasions Defendant Snipes exceeded his travel conditions as set forth in his terms and conditions of release and the Court's July 2, 2008 Order, it is also true as pointed out in Defendant Snipes' moving papers that he has never failed to appear at the many proceedings in this case where his presence was required." In the end, the court granted the motion but did place restrictions on Snipes.
Court's Order - Download 520_OrdGrantTrav 033109
Interesting article can be found on the Brookings Website (here), with testimony from Robert Litan who calls for Congress to consolidate all federal financial regulatory acitivities into two agencies. He states - "--Do we need a systemic risk regulator (SRR)? Yes."
Our world is more specialized, and meeting issues with consolidation and specialization is important.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Does it seem like more and more ponzi schemes are coming to light these days? Perhaps in part this is because people are scrutinizing their investments, and are realizing that what they thought was a wonderful return for their investment, but not in fact be the case. One thing is for certain, Bernie Madoff is not the only person having ponzi scheme issues as a result of recent events. The latest casualty appears to be in the Central District of California, where an individual is pleading guilty to being involved in a 15 million dollar ponzi scheme. The DOJ Press Release states that this individual "operated a Ponzi scheme through his Newport Beach-based investment companies" and "promised investors 'guaranteed' annual returns of between 10 percent and 18 percent per year, telling investors that their money would be invested in foreign currency trading, oil wells, real estate and other vehicles." The press release states that "[o]ver the course of his scheme, [he] defrauded more than 200 people out of more than $15 million, taking millions of dollars that his victims [ ] initially invested in IRA retirement savings accounts." In addition to pleading guilty to mail fraud for the ponzi scheme, the press release notes that there were "bribery, passport fraud and identity fraud charges resulting from his attempt to procure a fraudulent passport and flee the country after his scheme collapsed."
The Federal Bar Association and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, along with the ABA Criminnal Justice Section, have issued the program for the 18th Annual National Seminar on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The event is scheduled for May 21-22 in Clearwater Beach, Florida. See here for details - Download 290200_09_guidelines_book