Friday, December 28, 2007

2007 White Collar Crime Awards

In the finest end-of-the-year tradition of various media outlets, we again honor individuals and organizations for their work this year in the white collar crime arena by bestowing "The Collar" on those who deserve our praise, scorn, acknowledgment, blessing, curse, or whatever else you can think of that would be appropriate. Comments are open if any readers would like to suggest additional categories or winners (or losers?), remembering to keep any offerings reasonably mature and somewhat well-meaning, at least to the extent ours meet those criteria (and do not open us up to a libel suit).

With the appropriate fanfare, and without further ado, we present The Collars for 2007:

The Collar for Best Exposure of the Deficiencies in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines -- To President George Bush for finding I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's guidelines sentence to be excessive.

The Collar for Best Parent -- For the third year in a row, to Bill Olis for all his work on behalf of his son Jamie.  Last year we said one more year and we retire the award in Bill's name, and so this award now is retired and permanently bears the name of The Bill Olis Best Parent Award.

The Collar for Nice Work If You Can Get It -- to former AG John Ashcroft, appointed by a former subordinate as a monitor under a deferred prosecution agreement that will require the monitored company to pay him between $29,000,000 and $52,000,000.

The Collar for Biggest Bang From a Deferred  Prosecution Agreement-- to U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie (the subordinate mentioned in the preceding Collar) for also getting three former colleagues appointed as monitors in the same case, and this comes after his law school alma mater happened to receive a chaired professorship in 2005 pursuant to a deferred prosecution agreement (surprise!!).  Three guesses who may run for Governor of New Jersey in 2009?

The Collar for the Best Skating Not on an Ice Rink -- to Andy Fastow and Jack Abramoff (no explanations needed).

The Collar for Worst Award  -- To the ABA Journal, which originally selected -- with no apparent irony -- the gone-but-surely-not-forgotten AG Alberto Gonzales as its "Lawyer of the Year," initially defending the selection by claiming that he made the most news, even if almost all of it was bad. 

The Collar for Hottest 30-Year Old . . . Statute -- To the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which has come into its own as a "mature" criminal statute, even being noticed by the New York Times.  And get your minds out of the gutter, this is a family-friendly blog!

The Collar for Best Able to Move Past a Conviction -- hands down this one goes to Martha Stewart, who has moved on with her life with hardly a misplaced dinner fork.

The Collar for Least Qualified to Hire an Assistant U.S. Attorney -- To Monica Goodling, former White House Liaison to AG Alberto Gonzales (briefly a "Lawyer of the Year" -- see above), who admitted she allowed political considerations to enter into the hiring of career AUSAs. 

The Collar for What Started With a Bang Sure Ended With a Whimper -- To former investment banking star Frank Quattrone, who went through two trials (first jury hung), a conviction later overturned by the Second Circuit, and then received the only deferred prosecution agreement given to an individual in a white collar crime case to this point, with the condition being that he remain a good boy for twelve months.  He did, and is now free from his prior entanglements.

The Collar for the Law Firm With the Most Named Partners Charged With a Crime -- To what was known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, whose three living partners (Milberg died long before the firm's troubles arose) were all charged in federal indictments, with Bershad and Schulman pleading guilty.  As a cherry on top, the firm's predecessor included another name partner who entered a guilty plea, William Lerach.

The Collar for Wildest Bribery Case in Mississippi -- To Dickie Scruggs, made famous in the movie "The Insider" about the tobacco litigation that made him rich, who now faces charges of trying to bribe a state court judge in Mississippi, along with his son and another attorney at the firm.  This one has it all: money, local politics, undercover tapes, wiretaps.  Who's writing the screenplay for this one?

The Collar for the Biggest Perjury Case Since, Well, the Last Biggest One -- Now that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby dodged prison and dropped his appeal, it's on to the next "biggest" perjury case: the prosecution of one Barry Lamar Bonds for lying to a grand jury investigating the steroids factory Balco.

The Collar for the Next Next Biggest Perjury Case Since . . . -- To Roger Clemens, who has loudly proclaimed his innocence regarding steroid use after being named in the Mitchell Report on the invasion of performance enhancing drugs in baseball, will be pressured to testify under oath before Congress when it holds hearings on the Report.  With a scheduled interview on Sixty Minutes, perhaps Congress will make lying to Mike Wallace a federal offense, because Clemens would be a fool to walk into a perjury trap on Capitol Hill.

The Collar for Hardest "What Do These Two Have In Common" Trivia Question -- To Michael Dwayne Short, formerly of Hyattsville, Maryland, who will be forever linked with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.  Care to guess why? [Answer will be posted in the Comments on January 1 in case you care.]

The Collar for the White Collar Defendant Most Needing Relief -- To Chalana McFarland, a first-time offender who received 30 years for a mortgage fraud.

The Collar for the State With the Most High-Profile Federal Corruption Investigations -- A tie this year between Louisiana and Alabama, with Alaska starting early to secure next year's award.

The Collar for Blogs That Should Be Nominated for Some Award -- To The D & O Diary (written by Kevin LaCroix) and The FCPA Blog (written by Dick Cassin), both outstanding for their thorough, balanced posts that are uniformly informative -- they deserve recognition for the service they provide to readers but probably won't in various popularity contests.

(esp & ph)

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