Dallas Lawyer Who Planted Niece in Government Job As a ‘Mole’ Gets 10-Year Max for Medical Fraud

Dallas lawyer Tshombe Anderson had his niece obtain an internship at the U.S. Labor Department so she could snoop through claims files, learn the system and act as a “mole,” prosecutors say.

The Dallas Morning News reports that on Thursday a U.S. district judge sentenced Anderson to the maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay more than $26 million in restitution minus what the government has already collected from him.

“Anderson stole patient information from over 200 injured federal workers and then used the information to fraudulently bill OWCP [workers’ comp], enriching himself and others with taxpayer dollars intended for the treatment of injured federal workers,” said Steven Grell, Special Agent in-Charge for the Dallas Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Inspector General.

Read the Dallas News article.



The Biglaw Firms Potentially Caught in the Cohen Raid

Above the Law reports that the names of some of the biggest law firms in the country have come to light after the Department of Justice seized records from the home and office of Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

“The first Biglaw firm caught up in the mess is Squire Patton Boggs. Last year the firm announced a strategic alliance with Cohen, but as the heat’s been turned up, they’ve sought to distance themselves,” writes editor Kathryn Rubino.

Other firms’ materials could have been caught in the raid, including Morgan Lewis, Gerstman Schwartz Malito, and Cole Schotz, the article states.

Read the Above the Law article.



Lawyer Convicted of Abetting Tax Evasion By Wall Street Executive’s Adult Children

The lawyer who taught New York’s first family of tax evasion the tricks of the trade might be spending his golden years in prison, according to Crain’s New York Business.

A Manhattan jury found Michael Little, 67, guilty of helping the adult children of a Wall Street executive tap into their Swiss bank accounts, which held millions in inheritance money, without alerting the IRS.

Reporter Aaron Elstein writes that the case appears to mark the end of an extensive government crackdown on wealthy families and their advisers who avoided paying taxes by parking money offshore. Federal authorities have charged more than 60 account holders with tax evasion and 30 bankers or lawyers with enabling them during the past eight years.

Little’s troubles began in 2001 when the children of Harry Seggerman, who’d made his fortune at Fidelity investing in Japanese and later Korean companies wanted to access their late father’s $24 million estate, about half of which was tucked away in a Zurich vault.

“Little advised the Seggermans that they could get their inheritance dollars back into the United States without alerting authorities by taking ‘little chunks’ using travelers checks or disguising transfers by saying they were related to sales of art or jewelry,” writes Elstein.

Read the Crain’s article.



Federal Bar Association’s Capitol Hill Day

The Federal Bar Association during its Capitol Hill Day on April 26, 2018, will urge President Trump and the United States Senate to honor their Constitutional responsibilities to nominate judicial nominees and promptly act upon those nominations, in response to a growing vacancy crisis afflicting the federal courts.

“Today there are nearly 150 judicial vacancies in our nation’s courts, representing 18 percent of all Article III federal judgeships, said Kip Bollin, president of the Federal Bar Association. “Judicial vacancies mean that our federal courts are not being staffed at the level Congress intended, triggering the slower dispensation of justice.”

In addition to judicial vacancies, FBA leaders participating in Capitol Hill Day will urge Congress to adequately fund the federal courts, establish additional federal judgeships in high-caseload judicial districts, and establish an Article I immigration court.

W. West Allen, chair of the FBA Government Relations Committee, stated, “The Federal Bar Association represents the foremost constituency of our federal courts. As its practicing bar, we have a responsibility to remind Congress of the critical role the courts play, the challenges they face, and their ongoing needs.”

Last year, the annual FBA advocacy event broke all-time attendance records involving FBA national, circuit, chapter, section, and division leaders. Working off a common agenda of FBA policy priorities, FBA leaders participated in over 200 meetings with House and Senate offices across the Hill.

Read more about Capitol Hill Day.



Federal Contractors’ Guide to SBA Set-Aside Contracts, Size Standards, Size Protests, and Affiliation

Fox Rothschild LLP has posted its Federal Contractors’ Guide to Small Business Administration Set-Aside Contracts, Size Standards, Size Protests, and Affiliation.

The federal government sets aside a significant portion of its procurement dollars each year for purchasing goods and services from small businesses. Small business set-aside procurements and small business contract awards (“Set-Aside Procurements” and “Set-Aside Contracts,” respectively) provide substantial opportunities for a certified small business concern (SBC) to compete for and perform federal contract work. However, SBCs awarded Set-Aside Contracts are frequently subjected to size protests filed with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) by disappointed competitors looking to challenge the awardee’s size, and if successful, to disqualify the awardee from the procurement.

The Fox Rothschild LLP Guide advises federal contractors on the following issues and concepts:

●SBA Set-Aside Procurements, Set-Aside Contracts, and Size Standards;
●The parameters and purposes for SBA size protests, how they are filed, and how contractors can avoid and defend against such protests; and
●The parameters of SBA affiliation, which contractors can use to challenge Large Businesses masquerading as small business concerns, and, as importantly, must understand to protect themselves from being adversely affected by a finding of affiliation at the hands of a size protest.

Download the guide.



How Big Could Facebook’s Fine Theoretically Get? Hint: Four Commas, and Counting

Former Federal Trade Commission officials have been pulling out their calculators in recent weeks trying to figure out just how big a fine the commission could levy against Facebook for its latest privacy mishaps, The Washington Post reports.

White former FTC chairman William Kovacic joked that the potential fine could total “more money than there is on the planet,” it’s unlikely the FTC would levy a fine so large that it would imperil the future of Facebook, report Craig Timberg and Tony Romm.

They write that David Vladeck, a former FTC director of consumer protection who oversaw the consent decree with Facebook, says he expects the commission to find new violations in light of the company’s revelations last week. Vladeck estimates the probable fines in the vicinity of $1 billion, a record for FTC privacy fines.

Read the Post report.



Renewable Energy Deals Targeted for More Scrutiny in New Trade Report

The renewable energy industry, now designated as a technology and innovation-related area of special concern to the protection of the U.S. industrial and scientific base, is one of seven sectors that the U.S. Trade Representative recently identified as being of significant national security concern, writes Stephen Paul Mahinka in the Power & Pipes blog for Morgan Lewis.

“The USTR’s primary concern in its investigation was with acquisitions and investments related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation in seven industry sectors that it specifically identified as being of significant national security concern. Renewable energy is one of the seven sectors highlighted for increased scrutiny, through expanded reviews of certain types of deals by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” according to the post.

Although the report focused on Chinese acquisitions and investments, the identification of renewable energy as one of the seven main industry sectors of concern means that acquisitions and investments by entities in other foreign nations may also be subject to heightened scrutiny by the committee, explains Mahinka.

Read the article.



Mueller’s Assurances That Trump is Not a ‘Target’ Don’t Mean Much

Robert S. Mueller

Robert S. Mueller

The recent assurance that President Trump is not officially a target n Robert Mueller’s investigation may not be worth much, reports Politico. Mueller may not be able to secure an indictment against a sitting president, but his report could serve as a trigger to impeachment proceedings.

Reporter Josh Gerstein interviewed lawyers who told him that it’s more significant that Mueller reportedly plans to writes a report about Trump’s potential obstruction of justice in the probe.

“The key isn’t that Trump is not (yet) a ‘target’ but that he IS a SUBJECT of Mueller’s investigation & that Mueller will write a REPORT on what Trump did, why, and what it adds up to. That is HUGE,” Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe wrote on Twitter.

Read the Politico article.



Amazon Fires Its Lobbying Law Firms in Washington

Amazon.com Inc. cut ties with two of Washington’s biggest lobbying law firms and brought on new advisers following passage of the tax overhaul bill last year and in the face of new challenges in the age of President Donald Trump, reports Bloomberg Politics.

The shakeup occurred shortly before Trump briefly sent Amazon’s stock tumbling when he tweeted that Amazon doesn’t pay enough in state and local sales taxes, hurts retailers and gets an unfair edge on the back of the U.S. Postal Service.

“Amazon ended its relationship with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, the law firm that attracts more lobbying revenue than any other K Street operation, and Squire Patton Boggs, last Friday, according to a person familiar with the decisions,” write Ben Brody, Spencer Soper and Jennifer Jacobs.

The reporters add that their source told them Amazon hired Paul Brathwaite of Federal Street Strategies LLC and Josh Holly of Holly Strategies Inc.

Read the Bloomberg Politics article.



Barclays Wins Its DOJ Gamble With $2 Billion Mortgage Settlement

Bloomberg is reporting that Barclays Plc agreed to pay $2 billion to settle a probe into how it sold the sort of mortgage bonds that fueled the financial crisis, securing a penalty less than half of what U.S. authorities originally demanded.

Reporters Stephen Morris and Gavin Finch explained: “The British lender was the only bank to push back against the size of the settlement demanded by the Justice Department, prompting the prosecutor to file a lawsuit in the waning days of the Obama administration in 2016. The DOJ wanted a fine of about $5 billion, but the bank refused to pay any more than $2 billion, Bloomberg news reported in 2016.”

Two former executives at the bank, Paul Menefee and John Carroll, also settled Thursday and agreed to pay $2 million to resolve claims without admitting wrongdoing.

Read the Bloomberg article.



The Buy American Act and Trade Agreements Act: Understanding Federal Domestic Preference Requirements

PilieroMazza has posted an on-demand webinar discussing compliance with new laws requiring or providing a preference for the purchase of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States.

President Trump signed Executive Order 13788 on April 18, 2017, aimed at tougher enforcement of the “Buy American Laws” which are those laws requiring or providing a preference for the purchase of goods, products, or materials produced in the United States. Given the Trump administration’s intent for stricter enforcement of domestic preference requirements, government contractors need to stay abreast of the relevant laws and regulations, such as the Buy American Act  and the Trade Agreement Act, the firm says on its website.

Webinar topics include:

  • The general requirements of the BAA and TAA
  • The applicability of the requirements and exceptions to their applicability
  • Tests for determining a product’s country of origin
  • Relevant FAR clauses and certifications
  • The potential penalties for non-compliance
  • Practical tips and strategies for compliance

Watch the on-demand webinar.



State Department Updating Contracting Language to Head Off Confusion

The State Department will be improving transparency in its requirements for contractor cooperation with its Office of Inspector General, according to Federal News Radio.

“While the Foreign Affairs Manual authorizes the OIG to access a contractor’s documents and interview its employees during the scope of an investigation, that provision is not currently explicitly expressed in the contracts signed by vendors,” writes David Thornton. “The OIG and the department are moving to correct this issue, and hopefully head off any further confusion or misunderstandings.”

The change is intended to head off problems such as the one seen earlier this year when a contractor would not comply with requests for an IT audit of security controls.

Read the article.



Trump Labor Board Member Forgot About Conflict of Interest, Watchdog Says

National Labor Relations Board member William Emanuel violated a White House ethics pledge by participating in a closely watched case involving his former law firm, the NLRB’s inspector general concluded in a report obtained by Bloomberg Law.

Bloomberg reporters Chris Opfer and Hassan A. Kanu write that Emanuel told Inspector General David Berry that he didn’t realize former firm Littler Mendelson represented a business in the seminal Browning-Ferris Industries case, although he previously flagged the litigation for lawmakers as one that he might need to sit out, according to Berry’s report. Emanuel then joined the rest of the five-member board in directing its top attorney to ask an appeals court to drop the case.

They report that Berry said the inconsistency in Emanuel’s statements to Congress and the IG “is not sufficient to show that” Emanuel “intentionally lied.”

Read the Bloomberg article.



Former Jones Day Attorney Tapped For Position at the EEOC

The Trump administration has nominated Sharon Fast Gustafson to fill the vacant position of general counsel of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Above the Law reports that Gustafson spent four years at Jones Day before becoming a solo practitioner in 1995.

The GC’s position at the EEOC has been vacant since December of 2016.

“The top litigator position has broad discretion in deciding what Title VII cases to pursue, and, as such, will take the lead in determining the Trump administration’s stance on such hot button issues as sexual harassment and the gender pay gap,” writes Above the Law editor Kathryn Rubino.

Read the Above the Law article.



Plaintiff Lawyers See Nationwide Settlement As Only End For Opioid Lawsuits

Lawyers who met in a federal courtroom in Cleveland to discuss a settlement of opioid litigation faced the difficult task of crafting a deal that will not only pay their clients — mostly towns and cities — but include states and even the federal government while spreading the cash evenly across the country, according to Forbes.

Contributor Daniel Fisher writes that most of the attendees were private lawyers who have signed contingency-fee contracts with municipal clients.

He adds that “the sheer complexity of the litigation raises questions about how the parties will craft an agreement that ends the threat of further lawsuits against the industry while distributing cash to all the varied entities who have sued.”

But the situation for the self-funded private lawyers is complicated by the involvement of state and federal claims on some of the expected settlement funds.

Read the Forbes article.



Accepting a Pardon From Trump Could Add Booster Rockets to State Prosecutions

Individuals who are hoping for a preemptive pardon from President Trump for any role they may have had in criminal activity should be aware that they run a significant risk that acceptance of a pardon would be used by state prosecutors as an admission of guilt.

Writing for Slate.com, New York University School of Law professor Ryan Goodman explains that a president’s pardon power applies only to federal crimes, leaving that individual liable for state crimes that cover the same underlying conduct.

“Officials like New York’s [Attorney General Eric] Schneiderman may feel they have an ace in hand if they can walk into a state courthouse with a defendant’s admission of guilt implied by having accepted a presidential pardon,” writes Goodman. “This get-out-of-federal-jail card comes at a price.”

He cites a 1915 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that acceptance of a pardon carries with it a “confession of guilt.”

Read the Slate.com article.



For the Third Time, Supreme Court to Hear Mandatory Union Dues Arguments

Next week the Supreme Court will hear oral argument on whether to reverse a 41-year-old ruling that allows states to require government employees to pay union dues even though they don’t want to be union members.

“It’s a familiar question for eight of the nine justices, who have already heard oral argument on the issue twice,” writes Amy Howe in SCOTUSblog. “The court did not resolve the issue the first time; the second time, in the wake of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, they deadlocked. This means that the outcome in [petitioner Mark] Janus’ case could hinge on the vote of the court’s newest justice, Neil Gorsuch.”

The case, appealed by Janus, an employee of the state of Illinois, comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected his argument that the agency fee violated his rights under the First Amendment.

Read the SCOTUSblog article.




Mueller Gets Plea, No Cooperation, as Skadden Lawyer Admits Lies

Bloomberg Law is reporting that U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has extracted a guilty plea from a former associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom who admitted in court in Washington that he misled investigators in the Russian election meddling case.

Alex van der Zwaan admitted he misled investigators about the last time he talked with Rick Gates, who was indicted in October with Paul Manafort over their consulting work in Ukraine. But van der Zwaan was the first of those who didn’t enter into a cooperation agreement with the special counsel’s office, according to Bloomberg.

He faces as long as six months in jail under advisory guidelines.

Skadden said it terminated van der Zwaan’s employment in 2017 and has been cooperating with authorities.

Read the Bloomberg Law article.



Justice Department’s No 3 Official to Take Walmart’s Top Legal Job

Rachel Brand, the U.S. Justice Department’s No 3 official, is leaving for the top legal job at Walmart, reports the Associated Press.

“Brand attracted interest because of her potential to assume a key role in the Trump-Russia investigation,” according to the AP. “The official overseeing the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, the deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, has been repeatedly criticized by Trump. If Rosenstein had been fired or quit, oversight would have fallen to Brand. That job would now fall to the solicitor general, Noel Francisco.”

Walmart sought Brand to be head of global corporate governance at the retail giant.

Read the AP article.




Commentary: Wells Fargo’s Board Members Are Getting Off Too Easy

When the Federal Reserve announced its punishment of Wells Fargo in the company’s sales scandal, the agency also announced that the company would replace four members of its 16-person board.

In a commentary for The Washington Post, former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers discussed the question: Why aren’t the directors who are leaving being named and asked to resign effective immediately with an element of humiliation?

“There are compelling reasons for due process before anyone goes to jail, even if it undermines deterrence,” Summers writes. “There is no similar justification for due process before being fired, publicly, for being a failed fiduciary. The Fed and other regulatory agencies should change their procedures.”

Read the Post article.