Former Locke Lord Partner Indicted on Charges Related to Alleged Cryptocurrency Ponzi Scheme

Above the Law reports that a former partner at Locke Lord and founder/CEO of MSS International Consultants Ltd., a private equity fund headquartered in the British Virgin Islands, was arrested on a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

According to the indictment, Mark S. Scott was part of a conspiracy to conceal the source of $400 million in process from an alleged pyramid scheme involving a purported cryptocurrency, OneCoin. Prosecutors allege he transferred money in and out of the country in order to hide the origins of the money, reports Above the Law editor Kathryn Rubino.

A judge set Scott’s bail at $1 million, secured by $200,000 cash, and placed Scott on home detention with an electronic monitoring device.

Read the Above the Law article.



Annual Security Report Deadline is Approaching

The U.S. Department of Education’s deadline for institutions to comply with the Annual Security Report is Oct. 1, 2018, points out Canopy Programs by United Educators.

Canopy Programs is offering assistance with its Clery Compliance Toolset, which can generate reports that include policies and procedures, as well as statistics for the past three calendar years.

The online tool will allow users to effectively:

  • Develop policies and procedures
  • Log crime and fire incidents
  • Request and log crime statistics from local law enforcement
  • Generate daily crime logs

Request a demo or download a white paper.

Judge Rejects Ex-Bank Executives’ Bids for Acquittals, New Trials

A federal judge on Thursday refused to overturn the fraud and conspiracy convictions of four former executives for the only financial institution to be criminally charged in connection with the federal bank bailout program, the Associated Press reports.

Judge Richard Andrews refused to enter judgments of acquittal or set new trials for the former Wilmington Trust executives.

“Former bank president Robert Harra Jr., former chief credit officer William North, former chief financial officer David Gibson and former controller Kevyn Rakowski were convicted in May on charges of fraud, conspiracy and making false statements to federal regulators,” writes reporter Randall Chase

Read the AP article.




Federal Judge’s Meltdown Ends With Hostages, Suicide

A federal administrative law judge arrested last week, accused of threatening the mother of his child with a rifle, shot and killed himself early Friday morning, ending a tense 10-hour standoff in Florida, reports the Miami Herald.

Police and federal agents had already confiscated a weapons cache from the home of Timothy Maher a few days before he took hostages and then killed himself. Three hostages were unharmed.

“The standoff was the culmination of a 10-day cat-and-mouse game between the troubled judge and local and federal law enforcement that began with Maher being arrested on firearms charges and included the shutdown of a downtown Miami Social Security office,” reports the Herald.

Read the Miami Herald article.




The Biglaw Firm Defending the Catholic Church

Above the Law reports that Cardinal Donald Wuerl has tapped Jones Day to represent him on matters relating to a grand jury report that alleged the sexual abuse of thousands of victims at Catholic dioceses across Pennsylvania.

Wuerl, as the former bishop of Pittsburgh, allegedly failed to remove priests accused of abuse from their ministries, according to the report.

Editor Kathryn Rubino quoted from a report that Wuerl has already been on the offensive:

“[Archdiocese of Washington general counsel Kim Viti Fiorentino], Wuerl’s in-house lawyer, has attacked the Pennsylvania grand jury report and its depiction of Wuerl. In an interview with her archdiocese’s weekly newspaper published Tuesday, Fiorentino said the investigatory process and resulting report, ‘narrowly targeted the Catholic Church in six dioceses in Pennsylvania and was generated in a process that suffered from significant legal flaws.’”

Read the Above the Law article.





Another Lawyer Slain: Indiana Victim was Close to Retirement

Indiana lawyer T. Edward Page was murdered at his home by a client, Hobart, Ind., police said late last week.

The Chicago Tribune reported that  a client of Page’s, William Landske, has been charged in the murder.

Page, an attorney with Thiros & Thiros in Merrillville, worked as Lake County public defender for the last 10 years, Marce Gonzalez Jr., chief public defender, said. Page submitted his notice of retirement Tuesday and was planning to finish out the month, he said.

Earlier in the week, another lawyer, Stephen Shapiro of Illinois, was shot to death in a separate case. His brother-in-law is in custody in that case.

Read the Chicago Tribune article.




Ex-Biglaw Partner Gets 18 Months in Prison for Role in Shkreli Fraud

The New York Post reports that the former lawyer who helped “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli defraud investors landed just one and a half years in prison Friday — but will have to fork over more than $10 million in restitution and forfeitures.

Brooklyn federal court Judge Kiyo Matsumoto said Evan Greebel’s conduct was “egregious” and he played a “crucial role” in Shkreli’s scheme to defraud his hedge-fund investors after he lost all their money in a bad trade.

In addition to the prison time, the disbarred attorney will have to pay $10,447,979 in restitution to Retrophin and forfeit $116,464.03 in ill-gotten gains to the government, writes reporter Emily Saul.

Greebel is a former partner at Kaye Scholer and Katten Muchin Rosenman.

Read the NY Post article.



Prosecutor: Illinois Attorney Fatally Shot By Brother-In-Law Over Finances

Prosecutors in the Illinois murder case of Stephen Shapiro, a partner in Mayer Brown, say he was gunned down by his brother-in-law, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Police arrested Shapiro’s brother-in-law, John Gately III in connection with the slaying at the lawyer’s home.

A prosecutor said Shapiro’s wife, Joan Shapiro, had been financially supporting her brother and had recently argued with him about the management of his finances.

On the day of the shooting, Gately attempted to talk to his sister, but Shapiro refused him. Authorities said Gately then shot Shapiro, before trying to shoot Joan Shapiro. She escaped from the house.

Read the Tribune article.




‘Superhero’ Lawyer Who Argued Cases Before Supreme Court Slain in Home

Stephen Shapiro, known as “a superhero” among his fellow attorneys for his frequent appearances before the U.S. Supreme Court, was shot and killed in a domestic altercation Monday at his Chicago-area home, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“Shapiro’s slaying shook up legal circles from Chicago to Washington, with friends and colleagues recalling a man who had reached the apex of his profession yet maintained his modest tastes and unpretentious personality,” write reporters John Keilman and Kathy Routliffe.

Shapiro was a partner at Mayer Brown and founder and senior member of the firm’s appellate practice, according to information on the firm’s website. He argued 30 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Police arrested a man in a Winnetka apartment in connection with the murder.

Read the Chicago Tribune article.



The Entire W.Va. Supreme Court Faces Impeachment for Alleged Corruption

The Washington Post is reporting that a West Virginia House panel moved this week to impeach the state’s entire Supreme Court.

Fourteen articles of impeachment allege corruption, maladministration, incompetence, neglect of duty and potential criminal behavior — impeachable offenses under the state constitution, writes Isaac Stanley-Becker.

Federal investigators secured a 23-count indictment charging former chief justice Allen H. Loughry II, now suspended without pay, with fraud, witness tampering, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice. Another seat on the court was vacated when Menis E. Ketchum II resigned in July, days before he was accused of federal wire fraud.

The Post report says other justices are “accused of ‘unnecessary and lavish spending’ on renovation of their offices, travel budgets and ‘regular lunches from restaurants,’ among other expenses, as well as failure to carry out administrative duties and properly develop guidelines for the use of public resources.”

Read the Post article.



Health Care Fraud: How a Strike Force is Selected for a City

During the latest National Health Care Fraud Takedown, investigators targeted Houston and Dallas to identify and charge more than 40 people with a range of fraud allegations.

How is a region designated as a health care strike force area? Former federal prosecutor and Houston trial attorney Ashlee McFarlane of Gerger Khalil & Hennessy explains in a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.

“Dallas is a health care strike force city, meaning the Department of Justice and federal agencies have identified Dallas (like Houston) as a hot bed for health care fraud, based on data analysis and reviewing payments of claims submitted to federal health care benefit programs like Medicare,” says McFarlane.

“Kickbacks are the foundation of almost every health care fraud case. “As a former prosecutor, I can tell you—kickbacks are the first thing agents and prosecutors look for in building an investigation.

“There’s no way to know the number of kickbacks being paid in a city. You have to start investigating a case. However, when there are providers who are outliers in the billing data, federal agents often look to see if kickback payments are used to induce referrals.”

Dallas and Houston are among 10 locations nationwide with Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations. According to the Department of Justice, a Medicare Fraud Strike Force consists of a partnership between the DOJ and Department of Health and Human Services to prevent fraud and enforce anti-fraud laws.



‘He Has Torn My Head Off’: Manafort Judge Known for Being Tough During Trials

Senior U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III, presiding over the Paul Manafort trial, has a reputation of displaying a no-nonsense, sharp demeanor that sometimes stings the lawyers in his courtroom, reports The Washington Post.

“He has torn my head off in front of my wife multiple times,” said Kevin Mikolashek, who recently left the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Reporter Rachel Weiner quotes defense lawyer John Zwerling, who says he warns lawyers who are new to the Alexandria, Va. court: “It’s important for him that everyone in the courtroom knows he is the smartest person in that courtroom, and just be aware that he usually is. So you better be on your A game.”

Weiner adds: “Ellis regularly interrupts trial testimony with his own questions and demands that certain lines of inquiry be cut short, clearing up ambiguity that defense attorneys hoped to create. More than one lawyer has tried to block him from doing so with pretrial motions or mid-case demands for a mistrial.”

Those attempts have been struck down, however.

Read the Post article.




Ex-Dentons Extortionist Faces Disciplinary Charges

Bloomberg Law is reporting that a former Dentons associate who stole the firm’s confidential files and then tried to extort cash and artwork from the firm now faces attorney discipline charges.

The complaint names Michael Bernard Potere, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced to federal prison for unauthorized computer access. The complaint was served July 10 but recently posted. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s alleged ethical violations based on the criminal conduct.

Potere, an associate in Dentons’ Los Angeles office from 2015 until June 2017, downloaded numerous confidential firm documents, such as financial reports, documents about partner meetings, client lists, billing information, and recruiting-related information, ARDC said. He then threatened to send the documents to a legal website unless the firm paid him $210,000, according to reporter Mindy L. Rattan.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Bitcoin Exchange Operator Faces 40 Years in Jail for Lying to SEC

Smart contracts - bitcoin - blockchainBloomberg Law is reporting that a virtual currency operator accused of running off with investor funds after a 2013 hack and lying to investigators has accepted a plea deal with federal prosecutors in New York.

Reporter Lydia Beyoud writes that Jon E. Montroll of Saginaw, Texas, faces up to 40 years in prison.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a July 23 statement accompanying the plea agreement that Montroll “repeatedly lied during sworn testimony and misled SEC staff to avoid taking responsibility for the loss of thousands of his customers’ bitcoins,” in 2013, Berman said.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Biglaw Tries to Persuade Judge Not to Send One of Their Own to Prison

Some former colleagues of the lawyer who was convicted of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with the “Pharma Bro” case are asking the judge in his case for leniency.

Evan Greebel, formerly of Katten Muchin and Kaye Scholer, could face up to 20 years in prison for his role as outside counsel for Martin Shkreli’s pharmaceutical company Retrophin, according to Above the Law. Prosecutors alleged Greebel assisted Shkreli in using Retrophin’s assets to pay investors in unrelated hedge funds run by Shkreli through the use of phony settlement and consulting agreements and fraudulently backdating agreements.

“But his lawyers — he’s repped by Gibson Dunn — have submitted a sentencing memo asking Judge Kiyo Matsumoto for no jail time,” writes editor Kathryn Rubino. “Attached to the memo are some 180 letters asking for leniency, and quite a few from Greebel’s former Biglaw partners.”

Read the Above the Law article.




Former Baylor Coach Rips Pepper Hamilton, Calls Out Ken Starr

Ken Starr

A former football coach who lost his job at Baylor University had some harsh words for former Baylor president Ken Starr, but his strongest words are for Pepper Hamilton, whose investigation led to Baylor’s decision to part ways with almost anyone even tangentially involved in allegations of sexual misconduct by football players.

Above the Law details the saga, based in part on an interview with Baylor’s former defensive coordinator and interim head coach Phil Bennett published by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

“Bennett rips the firm as clueless about the basics of running a college football team — allegedly suggesting to him that the school’s lawyers should have gotten involved as soon as a student showed up late for practice — and prone to inserting some disturbing racial observations,” writes editor Joe Patrice.

Read the Above the Law article.




GC Resigns, Stands Accused of Falsifying Death Threats

The former general counsel for the Oklahoma State Department of Health is accused of falsifying death threats against herself and has been charged in Oklahoma County district court, according to KWTV News 9 in Oklahoma City.

Julia Marie Ezell faces three counts of using a computer to send herself death threats and then falsely report a made-up crime. Ezell resigned as health department general counsel on Friday.

State officials said the emails were meant to look like they were coming from angry medical marijuana supporters. The health department recently adopted rules for the implementation of medical marijuana across the state.

Read the KWTV News 9 article.



ABA Reveals Alleged $1.3M Theft By a Now-Former Staff Member on Tax Form

The American Bar Association has posted a tax form that reveals a onetime staff member diverted about $1.3 million from the ABA over a period of eight years.

The ABA Journal reports that the organization became aware of the theft by a nonmanagerial staff member last September, according to the form. The employee was fired the next day, writes Debra Cassens Weiss.

ABA staff are cooperating with the investigation and have been in touch with law enforcement as recently as Tuesday.

An ABA official told the Journal that the theft was well-hidden with falsified documents, but the theft became apparent when the individual got more ambitious in attempts to divert more money.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Big Law Partner Disbarred After Bilking Firms, Client for $7.8M

Keila Ravelo, a former partner at Hunton & Williams and Willkie Farr & Gallagher, was disbarred in New York for approving payments of nearly $8 million to her ex-convict husband’s companies in exchange for “little or no services,” Bloomberg Law reports.

Ravelo’s disbarment was retroactive as of her November 2017 guilty plea to federal wire fraud and tax evasion charges.

Ravelo was accused in 2014 of conspiring to defraud Hunton, Willkie, and MasterCard by submitting false invoices for several million dollars to two litigation support vendors she and her husband controlled, a court found.

Sentencing is scheduled for September. A plea agreement calls for imprisonment for 48-72 months.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Former Fugitive Ex-Lawyer Pleads Guilty to U.S. Fraud Scheme

A former partner at a major U.S. law firm who spent two decades as a fugitive while avoiding charges that he ran a fraudulent investment scheme has pleaded guilty to carrying out a different scam while living in Massachusetts under an alias, according to Reuters.

Scott Wolas, 69, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court to defrauding 20 investors in two real estate projects out of $1.7 million while he was using someone else’s identity, Nate Raymond reports.

In the 1990s, Wolas was a litigator in the New York office of Hunton & Williams. Authorities said he fled about the time of a 1997 indictment in New York and turned up in Florida where he became a securities broker while using a college roommate’s name. When he was facing charges in Florida, he moved to Massachusetts, where he used various names while working as a real estate agent.

Read the Reuters article.