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.

 

 




Former ICE General Counsel Heads to Prison for Identity Theft

Government Executive reports that a former top legal adviser to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau was sentenced to 48 months in prison for wire fraud and identity theft affecting aliens, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

Reporter Charles S. Clark writes that “Raphael Sanchez, 44, of the ICE Office of Principal Legal Advisor based in the Pacific Northwest, had pleaded guilty in February to running a scheme to defraud aliens in various stages of immigration removal by using their personally identifiable information to open lines of credit and personal loans in their names. He would then manipulate their credit bureau files, transfer funds to himself and purchase goods for himself using credit cards issued in their names, [the Department of] Justice said.”

Sanchez admitted to using the agency’s computer database as well as paper files to steal the personal information.

Read the Government Executive article.

 

 




V&E Lawyer Faces Possible Felony Charge in Boat Crash That Injured Colleagues

Vinson & Elkins partner Douglas E. McWilliams could face a felony charge after a boat he was operating on Lake Travis ran aground, injuring two colleagues who were taken to a hospital by helicopter.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that an investigator has accused McWilliams, a partner in the firm’s Houston office, of leaving the scene of the crash. The investigator said in an arrest affidavit that interviews led him to believe that McWilliams had been drinking prior to the crash.

McWilliams’ lawyer, however, countered with affidavits from fellow lawyers, including the firm’s chairman, saying that he was not drunk at any point that night, according to reporter Tony Plohetski.

Read the American-Statesman article.

 

 




Lawyer Who Tried to Bilk Insurance Companies Out of $300,000 Sentenced to Prison

A former attorney in Texas has been sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to insurance fraud and barratry, or litigation for profit, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The Tarrant County district attorney said that Richard Kent Livesay schemed to bill insurers for fraudulent hailstorm damage to roofs without the knowledge or consent of homeowners.

The DA’s office said Livesay would have received more than $300,000 in fraudulent payments if his fraud hadn’t been discovered first by investigators from the Texas Department of Insurance.

Livesay also had to surrender his law license and to provide restitution to his victims, the report says.

Read the Star-Telegram article.

 

 




Hours After His Divorce is Final, Man Accused of Killing Ex-Wife’s Attorney

A Georgia lawyer who represented a woman in a divorce told colleagues he was worried about his client’s ex-husband, and a few hours later the man murdered him, according to police.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Antonio Benjamin Mari, 41, died from multiple gunshots Wednesday afternoon, two hours after the final divorce hearing in a Bartow County court.

“After shooting Mari, [Walter Samuel] Radford called his ex-wife, Cindy Radford, to tell her he’d killed the attorney, according to Lt. M.E. Bettikofer with Cartersville police. From there, Walter Radford, 33, allegedly broke into his ex-wife’s house and shot himself while no one else was home. He was found dead in the Willow Bend Drive home at 2:40 p.m. Wednesday,” reports Alexis Stevens.

Mari had worked nearly 18 years as a high school history teacher before becoming a lawyer.

Read the Journal Constitution article.

 

 

 

 




Dallas Firm Secures $166M Verdict in Fort Worth Murder-for-Hire Case

Attorneys for Dallas-based Fears Nachawati Law Firm have secured a $166 million verdict against the daughter and son-in-law of a North Texas woman who was killed in 2014 for the proceeds of life insurance policies totaling $5 million.

Jurors in Tarrant County’s 141st Judicial District Court determined Mark and Virginia Buckland were central figures in the conspiracy that led to the stabbing death of Anita Fox that was carried out by two members of a nomadic ethnic clan known as Irish Travellers. The multimillion-dollar verdict is believed to be among the largest in Tarrant County this year, according to the firm.

Though the couple has never been charged criminally in the murder, the jury found that they had crafted an insurance scheme in which they would be the sole beneficiaries of a series of policies, in part without the knowledge of the 69-year-old Ms. Fox.

Read details of the case.

 

 




Federal Suit Claims Systemic Failures to Pursue Rape Cases by Travis County DA, Austin Police

Three women have filed a federal class action lawsuit claiming that the Travis County District Attorney’s office and the Austin Police Department have violated the constitutional rights of women and discriminated based on gender in the manner in which they handle sexual assault cases.

The lawsuit notes that while more than 1,000 women report a sexual assault to Austin police each year, the number of cases actually taken to trial annually are in the single digits, according to a post on the website of Androvett Legal Media & Marketing.

The lawsuit alleges that Travis County DA Margaret Moore has ratified the discriminatory policies publicly, making statements that acquaintance rapes are really more “traumatic occurrences” than criminal acts.  Moore has also indicated that the testing of the backlog of thousands of rape kits in Austin is for “informational purposes” and not for prosecution, confirming her office’s intent not to seek justice for those victims.

The lawsuit also notes that the Austin Police Department’s sexual assault unit at one time had a wall with photos of victims whose claims had been “debunked” by officers as “trophies of their investigations which determined allegations by purported victims were unsubstantiated.”

Finally, the lawsuit notes that while women make up 91 percent of sexual assault victims, the only case taken to trial in 2017 involved a male victim.  In that instance, the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and the DA were aware of allegations by multiple women in previous years against the same perpetrator, but those cases were never prosecuted.

“[The] unconstitutional conduct by Defendants subjects both victims and all the women of Austin to continued risk at the hands of perpetrators who are never held accountable,” according to the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, claims that the dominant culture and ongoing and historical failures by local law enforcement to pursue sexual assault cases establishes a conspiracy to violate the civil rights of an estimated 6,000 sexual assault victims, while also violating their constitutional rights for equal protection.

“It is shocking that the vast majority of women who survive sexual assault are provided so little protection or recourse, and are essentially blamed for the refusal of law enforcement to seek justice in their cases,” says Jennifer Ecklund of Thompson & Knight and lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “Women go to authorities in order to seek justice and to protect other womenbut the policies and practices of law enforcement instead re-traumatize survivors while allowing their attackers to walk free.”

The case is Amy Smith, Julie Ann Nitsch and Marina Conner v. City of Austin, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore, Rosemary Lehmberg and Travis County, Texas.

 

 




Dallas Attorney Indicted for Allegedly Stealing From Client

Dallas attorney Walter Thomas Finley was indicted after police said he stole $365,000 from a client, according to Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate KXAS.

“The indictment came weeks after the FBI seized money from the lawyer in a separate case, according to forfeiture.gov, a government website that posts seizure notices,” writes reporter Scott Gordon.

Finley, 70, is charged with felony theft in a case involving the trust fund of an East Texas woman. The woman’s family gave Finley $416,000 in late 2012 to set up the fund and make quarterly payments to her, but he stopped after a year, according to a Highland Park police report and court records.

Read the KXAS article.




Trump’s Lawyer Michael Cohen Expects to Be Arrested Any Day Now: Reports

President Donald Trump’s long-time lawyer Michael Cohen has been telling pals he expects to be arrested soon, according to new reports Tuesday.

CNBC reports that a Vanity Fair article also quoted an ex-White House official saying that “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen” deciding to cooperate with federal prosecutors against the president.

“If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him,” the source told Vanity Fair about Cohen, who is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York City.

Federal Judge Kimba Wood had given attorneys for Cohen and Trump until Monday to raise any objections they had to a special master’s findings on whether seized documents were privileged. She later rejected their request to be allowed to file their objections under seal.

Read the CNBC article.

 

 




Goldman Sachs Vice President Charged With Insider Trading

Reuters is reporting that federal prosecutors charged a vice president at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Thursday with insider trading by illegally using non-public information about several companies that were clients of the investment bank.

Woojae “Steve” Jung, a 37-year-old Korean citizen, is charged with trading illegally on confidential information relating to upcoming transactions and merger negotiations that he was privy to through his job. Reporter Brendan Pierson writes that Jung made more than $130,000 through the scheme.

Prosecutors said Jung conducted his trades through a brokerage account in the name of a friend living in South Korea. The brokerage account was accessed from internet addresses that were traced to Jung, according to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Read the Reuters report.

 

 




Federal Prosecutors Poised to Get More Than 1 Million Files Seized From Michael Cohen’s Phones

The Washington Post is reporting that federal prosecutors investigating President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen are poised to receive on Wednesday 1 million files from three of his cellphones seized last month, according to a filing submitted to the court Tuesday night by special master Barbara Jones.

Jones said investigators have already been given access to nearly 300,000 pieces of potential evidence seized from Cohen’s office and residences in an April raid, according to reporters Philip Bump and Mark Berman.

Cohen’s attorneys initially said thousands of the seized documents might be covered by attorney-client privilege, but Jones noted that so far only 252 items have been flagged by Cohen’s or President Trump’s attorneys as privileged.

Read the Post article.

 

 




Dismiss Big Law Malicious Prosecution Suit, Judge Recommends

Bloomberg Law is reporting that a federal magistrate judge recommended the dismissal of a lawsuit that accuses Reed Smith LLP and Clark Hill PLC of using baseless lawsuits, discovery delays—and even thuggish private eyes—to help a client conceal its criminal activities.

Reporter Samson Habte writes that the recommendation could bring an end to one of several high-stake lawsuits that LabMD Inc. is pursuing against cybersecurity firm Tiversa Inc. and some of the nation’s largest law firms.

In a lawsuit, LabMD accused former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP of trying to prevent a whistleblower from revealing Tiversa hacked LabMD with “FBI surveillance software” it got from Buchanan.

The suit also claimed that Reed Smith and Clark Hill helped Tiversa cover up Tiversa’s allegedly criminal activities. “The firms allegedly did so by bringing baseless defamation suits that drained LabMD’s resources, and by using private investigators to intimidate and silence the whistleblower,” according to Habte.

Read the Bloomberg article.

 

 




What Does the NRA Want With One of America’s Top Drug Lawyers?

The NRA called on a self-described “aging Jewish hippie” who doesn’t own a gun and who frequently defends drug defendants to speak at the organization’s recent annual convention — because he’s a drug attorney who understands how the nation’s Byzantine drug laws could threaten gun owners.

Gerry Goldstein said he was as surprised as anyone to receive the invitation, reports The Dallas Morning News.

Reporter David Tarrant writes that federal law could cause pot users to lose their right to carry firearms, even in states where marijuana possession is legal. And the NRA could see a natural alliance between gun rights activists and people like Goldstein.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives recently sent a letter to all federally licensed gun dealers, stating: “Any person who uses or is addicted to marijuana, regardless of whether his or her state has passed legislation authorizing marijuana use for medical purposes … is prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms or ammunition.”

Read the Dallas News article.

 

 

 




GC and CEO of Bank That Hid Drug Cash Face U.S. Criminal Probe

Bloomberg is reporting that the Justice Department is considering whether to accuse Rabobank NA’s ex-Chief Executive Officer John Ryan, former general counsel Dan Weiss and its past compliance chief of obstructing U.S. bank examiners’ efforts to dig into the firm’s failures to prevent money laundering.

Reporters  and  based their report on information from two people with knowledge of the probe who asked not to be named because the investigation is ongoing.

“The potential charges could close a dark chapter for Rabobank Groep, a Netherlands banking titan with $723 billion of assets,” they write. “Thousands of miles away from its Dutch headquarters, California bank branches near the Mexican border became a pipeline for the profits of organized crime starting in 2009, according to the Justice Department. In February, the U.S. unit admitted guilt to felony conspiracy allegations and agreed to pay $369 million, including a $50 million OCC fine.”

Read the Bloomberg article.

 

 




Ex-Biglaw Partner Said He Shot His Wife By Accident – Jurors Didn’t Buy It

An Atlanta jury found Claud “Tex” McIver guilty of felony murder on Monday in the fatal shooting of his wife, Diane McIver, while they were riding in an SUV in 2016.

McIver is a former Fisher & Phillips partner.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports: “Known as ‘The Fixer’ because of his ability to grease the wheels of bureaucracy and get things done, McIver appeared stunned as he was handcuffed by a Fulton County sheriff’s deputy and led from the courtroom following the verdict. McIver had lived a mostly charmed existence until the evening of September 25, 2016, when he shot his wife Diane in the back as they were being driven near Piedmont Park. He claimed it was an accident. Jurors didn’t buy it.”

The sentence carries a mandatory life sentence for the 75-year-old defendant.

“It’s unclear whether the jurors who leaned toward involuntary manslaughter knew they were accepting a deal that would likely send McIver away until death,” the Journal-Constitution reports in another article.

Read the Journal-Constitution article.