Ex-Lawyer Gets Nearly 4 Years in Prison for Embezzling From Clients and Law Firm

A former Oregon lawyer who stole money from her clients and used it to pay her mortgage, do landscaping projects at her home and subsidize lavish vacations and plastic surgery was sentenced Thursday to nearly four years in federal prison, reports The Oregonian.

“[Pamela S.] Hediger worked from 2010 to 2017 as an attorney, president and managing shareholder at Evashevski, Elliott, Cihak & Hediger law firm, focusing on personal injury cases. While at the firm, she embezzled money from the firm’s client trust and business operating accounts, according to prosecutors,” explains The Oregonian‘s Maxine Bernstein.

In addition to the prison sentence, Hediger also was ordered to pay $1.9 million in restitution, $471,399 in outstanding federal income tax and forfeit her Corvallis home.

Read the Oregonian article.



Lawyer Whose Boozy Brag Led to Insider Trades Can’t Ditch Verdict

Bloomberg Law is reporting that a former Hunton Andrews Kurth partner is stuck with securities fraud and conspiracy convictions after his drunken brag led to insider trading before a Pfizer merger, the Second Circuit said Jan. 10.

Robert Schulman was a Washington-based partner with Hunton & Williams, now Hunton Andrews Kurth, working on a patent dispute involving King Pharmaceuticals when he learned of the potential merger of King and Pfizer in August 2010.

He made reference to that deal to his investment adviser, Tibor Klein, at a dinner less than two weeks later. Klein “purchased 65,150 King shares for $585,217 in various accounts” and made a profit in less than two months when the merger became public, the opinion said.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



General Counsel Named in Corruption Probe Subpoenas Resigns

Cleveland.com reports that Emily McNeeley, general counsel for Cuyahoga County’s troubled IT Department and one of several people named in subpoenas related to an ongoing corruption investigation, has resigned from her $95,000-a-year job,

The county reported the resignation Tuesday, according to Cleveland.com’s Courtney Astolfi.

McNeeley was placed on unpaid leave in April after corruption investigators repeatedly named her, and her boss, IT Director Scot Rourke, in subpoenas served on the county. The cases refer to potential conflicts of interest, the report says.

Read the Cleveland.com article.



‘The Dark Overlord’ Didn’t Hack Systems, Husch Blackwell Says

Cybersecurity - hacking - hackerA hacker group calling itself “The Dark Overlord” threatened to release documents relating to insurance litigation over the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center that it stole from Husch Blackwell, but now the firm says its systems weren’t hacked.

The group says it has 18,000 documents that include emails and nondisclosure documents sent and received by two insurers and a Husch Blackwell predecessor firm, according to a report in the ABA Journal. The group is seeking a ransom paid in bitcoin.

In a statement, Husch Blackwell said: “After a thorough review, Husch Blackwell can confirm that no documents were obtained from Husch Blackwell, and that there was no unauthorized access to Husch Blackwell systems, client files, documents or data.”

Read the ABA Journal article.





Chicago Alderman Charged in Alleged Extortion to Get Business for His Law Firm

Image by Kate Gardiner

A federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday charged Chicago alderman Edward Burke with attempted extortion for allegedly using his position as alderman to try to steer business to his private law firm from a company seeking to renovate a fast-food restaurant in his ward, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The charge carries a maximum of 20 years in prison on conviction.

“The complaint details Burke’s repeated attempts to pressure the executives into hiring his law firm, Klafter & Burke, including during a June 2017 lunch meeting at the swanky Beverly Country Club at 87th Street and South Western Avenue. The FBI had the meeting under surveillance,” writes the Tribune‘s Jason Meisner.

Read the Chicago Tribune article.



Nissan Ex-Chairman to Get a Day in Court Almost Two Months After Shock Arrest

Carlos Ghosn will finally see the inside of a Japanese court room next week, almost two months after his arrest on financial crimes, reports Bloomberg.

Ghosn’s lawyer said his client will attend a hearing of the Tokyo district court on Jan. 8 in an effort to obtain an explanation on why the former Nissan Motor Co. chairman — who was taken into custody Nov. 19, and has had his detention extended repeatedly — remains in jail.

Bloomberg’s Kae Inoue reports: “While Ghosn has been indicted by Japanese prosecutors on allegations of under-reporting his compensation, the length of his detention and the lack of clarity provided on the case has drawn criticism.”

Read the Bloomberg article.



Thousands Say Judge Who Gave Baylor Frat President Probation, Not Prison, in Rape Case Must Go

Thousands of people are demanding the resignation of a Texas state district judge in Waco who accepted a plea deal for an accused rapist that sentenced the student to probation rather than prison, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Reporter Sarah Sarder explains:

“Judge Ralph Strother of the 19th District Court of Texas approved the plea deal for Jacob Walter Anderson. The plea deal includes three years of probation, a $400 fine and an order to seek unspecified counseling. Former Baylor fraternity president Jacob Walter Anderson, 23, of Garland was allowed to plead no contest Monday to a charge of unlawful restraint. Anderson will not be required to register as a sex offender.”

As of Friday morning, the online petition calling for Strother to be removed from office had more than 30,000 signatures.

Read the Morning News article.



Cash ‘Sandwiches’: Charges Detail ‘Brazen’ Fraud by Bloomberg Executives

Bribe - moneyIndictments unsealed Tuesday in New York State Supreme Court described a wide-ranging scheme involving three companies to steal at least $15 million from Bloomberg L.P., the giant financial information and media company, through bribes, kickbacks and bid rigging.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance described it as a “brazen” scheme lasting more than a decade.

The New York Times reports that the district attorney and state police said the case involves possible fraud, theft and bribery charges involving senior New York executives in Bloomberg’s global construction and facilities department.

Times reporter Charles V. Bagli explains how — according to investigators — contractors and executives exchanged texts that used code words to coordinate the scheme:

“Among the conspirators, ‘sandwich’ was code for bribes or kickbacks, prosecutors said. The contractor wanted to know if the executive, Vito Nigro of Turner Construction, was satisfied with the thick envelope stuffed with cash that had been delivered to his office the prior day, according to the indictment.”

Read the NY Times article.





Incoming New York AG Plans Wide-Ranging Investigations of Trump and Family


Letitia James
Image by Thomas Good

NBC News is reporting that New York Attorney Gen.-elect plans to launch sweeping investigations into President Donald Trump, his family and “anyone” in his circle who may have violated the law once she settles into her new job next month.

“We will use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” James, a Democrat, told NBC News in her first extensive interview since she was elected last month.

NBC reporter writes that James campaigned on passing a bill to change New York’s double jeopardy laws with an eye on possible pardons coming out of the White House. That change would allow her to pursue state charges against anyone the president were to pardon over federal charges or convictions and whose alleged crimes took place in the state.

Read the NBC News article.



Court Warns: Disbarment for Anonymous Online Posts is Lesson for Other Lawyers

A former federal prosecutor has been disbarred for posting anonymous online comments about cases being handled by himself or by his office, according to reports from the ABA Journal and the Legal Profession Blog.

The Louisiana Supreme Court ordered the disbarment of Sal Perricone, finding he had violated ethics rules because his “caustic, extrajudicial comments about pending cases strikes at the heart of the neutral “dispassionate control which is the foundation of our system.”

“Perricone had posted more than 2,600 comments on nola.com, the website of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, between November 2007 and March 2012. Between 100 and 200 comments related to matters being prosecuted by Perricone’s office,” according to Journal reporter Debra Cassens Weiss.

Read the ABA Journal article.



Justice Department Charges 4 Over Panama Papers Tax Schemes

Panama PapersThe Washington Post reports that the Justice Department charged four people Tuesday with scheming for decades to hide tens of millions of dollars from the Internal Revenue Service — the first U.S. indictment over alleged tax evasion revealed in 2016 through the Panama Papers.

Post reporter Devlin Barrett writes that those charged include a former investment manager, a former U.S. resident, an American accountant and a Panamanian lawyer who once worked for the “firm at the center of the case, Mossack Fonseca.

“The 11-count indictment unsealed in New York marks the first time the U.S. government has charged anyone with tax crimes related to the firm — and authorities suggested others could soon be charged,” according to Barrett.

Read the Washington Post article.



Dallas Cryptocurrency CEO Faces Charges of Scamming Investors Out of $4 Million

The CEO of Dallas-based AriseBank was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday for allegedly duping hundreds of investors out of more than $4 million in a splashy cryptocurrency scheme that promised federally insured accounts and brand-name credit cards, The Dallas Morning News reports.

Jared Rice Sr.’s arrest followed his indictment on three counts each of securities fraud and wire fraud, said Erin Nealy Cox, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, according to Morning News business editor Paul O’Donnell.

Rice was accused of lying to would-be investors by claiming that AriseBank could offer consumers FDIC-insured accounts and traditional banking services, including Visa-brand credit and debit cards, in addition to cryptocurrency services..

Read the Morning News article.



Newspaper Report Foils Trump Labor Secretary’s Chances of Being the New AG

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is out of the running to be President Donald Trump’s attorney general following a Miami Herald report that he oversaw a sweetheart deal for a wealthy financier accused of sexually abusing dozens of underage girls, according to two people close to the president.

Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida before going to Washington, the two advisers said.

Herald report Anita Kumar explains:

The investigation, which reported that Acosta, then U.S. attorney, cut a secret deal to allow billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to serve only 13 months in a county jail, is “clearly something” that is being widely circulated among Trump aides, one of the people said. The agreement “essentially shut down an ongoing FBI probe” and granted immunity to “any potential co-conspirators,” according to the story.

Read the Miami Herald article.




Louisville Lawyer Charged With Threatening to Kill Two Other Attorneys

A Louisville lawyer with a history of drug and alcohol abuse has been charged with threatening to kill two attorneys involved with his child custody case, reports the Louisville Courier Journal.

Brendan McLeod, who advertises himself as an “aggressive criminal attorney” on his Facebook page, was charged with retaliating against participants in a legal process, for allegedly threatening attorneys Mark Dobbins and Forrest Kuhn, according to the report by Andrew Wolfson.

“In the criminal case against McLeod, Louisville Metro Police Lt. Mike O’Neil said McLeod told a third party he would kill both Dobbins, who represents McLeod’s ex-wife, and Kuhn, a lawyer appointed as guardian ad litem for his children,” writes Wolfson.

Read the Courier Journal article.



Ex-Pa. Attorney General Kathleen Kane to Be Jailed By Thursday Morning

Former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane must report to jail by Thursday morning to begin serving her sentence for convictions on perjury and other charges, reports The Philadelphia Inquirer.

She also was convicted of abusing the power of her office in an attempt to smear a perceived political enemy, according to Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis. She faces a 10-to-23-month sentence.

Kane, 52, was in the spotlight when she was elected in 2012. At the time, she was considered the Democratic Party’s rising star, and her name was often floated for higher office.

Read the Inquirer article.



Former Dewey CFO Released From Jail After His Current Firm Pays His $1M Fine

The former chief financial officer of Dewey & LeBoeuf spent a night in jail after missing the first of three payments on a $1 million fine, but was released early Friday morning when his current law firm paid the entire $1 million, reports the ABA Journal.

“[Joel] Sanders was sentenced in October 2017 to 750 hours of community service and ordered to pay the $1 million fine over a three-year period,” reports the Journal‘s Debra Cassens Weiss. “Sanders did not get any jail time, but Stolz had said failure to pay the fine would land Sanders in jail until he pays up, for up to one year.”

He was convicted for misleading lenders and bond buyers about the firm’s finances before its 2012 collapse.

Sanders missed his first payment and asked for resentencing because of “dire financial circumstances” and also alleged the fine was unconstitutionally excessive. A New York judge ordered Sanders to jail.

The next day, his current law firm paid the entire $1 million.

Read the ABA Journal report.



Blockchain Alliance Reaches 100 Members

Steptoe & Johnson LLP announced that the Blockchain Alliance, a public-private forum to combat criminal activity involving cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, has grown to include 100 industry and government agencies in 19 countries.

Founded in October 2015 by the Chamber of Digital Commerce and Coin Center and led by Steptoe, the Alliance is comprised of a broad coalition of companies and government agencies that work to make the blockchain ecosystem more secure through education and dialogue between government and industry. In less than three years, the Alliance has grown from 17 industry members and six U.S. federal agencies to a total of 100 participants all over the world, including not only cryptocurrency and blockchain technology companies but also regulatory and enforcement agencies on six continents, as well as international entities including Interpol and Europol.

Steptoe partner Jason Weinstein (former deputy assistant attorney general in charge of cybercrime investigations at the Department of Justice and a member of the strategic advisory boards of BitFury, Coin Center and the Chamber of Digital Commerce) serves as the group’s director. Steptoe of counsel Alan Cohn (former assistant secretary for strategy at the Department of Homeland Security and a strategic advisor to several blockchain startups) serves as counsel to the Alliance.

“The growth of this Alliance – with 100 members around the world representing industry and government – is remarkable and reflects the growth of the cryptocurrency and blockchain space as a whole,” Cohn said. “Our mission is to enable industry and law enforcement to jointly protect public safety and help create an environment where innovation can thrive, and it’s working.”

“The Blockchain Alliance is an important organization that furthers vital communication between blockchain-oriented businesses and government agencies to help strengthen their understanding of enforcement objectives and cooperation,” said Amy Kim, chief policy officer of the Chamber of Digital Commerce. “The group’s work is critical in fostering the development of properly functioning markets involving virtual currency in particular and is much needed at a time when policy makers continue to have questions about this space. Its efforts have been instrumental in aiding law enforcement to detect crime and prosecute wrongdoers.”

The Blockchain Alliance serves as a resource for law enforcement and regulatory agencies to benefit from the expertise of some of the brightest minds in the blockchain industry for technical assistance in response to challenges faced during investigations. The Alliance also serves as a platform for open dialogue among law enforcement and regulatory agencies and the blockchain community about issues of concern to make blockchain technology more secure and to deter its use for unlawful purposes.

Additionally, the Alliance provides education and technical assistance regarding cryptocurrencies and other applications for blockchain technology, including through a series of webinars that have reached almost 700 participants in more than 35 countries.

“We are proud of the meteoric growth of the Alliance in just three years. The companies in the Alliance are good corporate citizens, and they deserve the credit for their commitment to working proactively with governments around the world to promote a secure blockchain ecosystem – for the benefit of government, industry, consumers, and the public,” Weinstein said.



Attorney’s Eye-Popping $460,000 in Earnings to Defend Indigent Clients Prompting Changes

A Texas county is adding more controls after fees to an attorney representing indigent clients this past fiscal year topped $460,000 — more than double the amount of any other court-appointed lawyer in Collin County, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Attorney Marc Fratter, 46, also earned significantly more than anyone on the county payroll, including the district judges who approved his pay sheets, according to reporter Valerie Wigglesworth.

“Fratter said he put in long hours — billing as much as 100 hours a week at times — with his one-man firm handling the workload of as many as six attorneys. He pointed to judges’ signatures on all of his pay sheets. “I’m not hiding anything,” he said.

Read the Dallas News article.



Ex-JPMorgan Trader Pleads Guilty in Six-Year Spoofing Plot

A former precious-metals trader said to have worked at JPMorgan Chase & Co. admitted he engaged in a six-year spoofing scheme that defrauded investors in futures contracts with the help of his colleagues and bosses, Bloomberg Law reports.

Prosecutors said John Edmonds placed hundreds of orders he never intended to execute — orders designed to move the market, but were canceled before being matched. Edmonds and other traders sought to manipulate futures markets for gold, silver, platinum and palladium on the Nymex and Comex exchanges for their own benefit.

The Bloomberg article continues: “Edmonds, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, said he learned the spoofing strategy from more senior traders at the bank and said his immediate supervisors approved of it, according to the Justice Department.”

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Promise Not to Kill Anyone? After Losing Election, TX Judge Wholesale Releases Juvenile Defendants

After losing his bench in a Democratic sweep, Harris County Juvenile Court Judge Glenn Devlin released nearly all of the youthful defendants that appeared in front him on Wednesday morning, simply asking the kids whether they planned to kill anyone before letting them go, the Houston Chronicle reports.

“He was releasing everybody,” said public defender Steven Halpert. “Apparently he was saying that’s what the voters wanted.”

“The longtime Republican jurist — whose seat was among 59 swept by Democrats in Tuesday’s election — is one of two juvenile court judges in Harris County whose track records favoring incarceration contributed heavily to doubling the number of kids Harris County sent to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department in recent years, even as those figures fell in the rest of the state,” writes Chronicle reporter Keri Blakinger.

Four of the juveniles released were facing aggravated robbery charges.

Read the Houston Chronicle article.