Allegations of criminal conduct can be made against attorneys from all walks of life. An innocent-looking solo practitioner in Illinois can be accused of prostitution. A partner in a well-regarded Minnesota law firm, the incoming president of the state bar association, can be accused of molesting a child (and convicted of criminal sexual conduct, after pleading guilty).

Such seamy accusations aren’t limited to the heartland; we also see them here in New York, at elite law firms. As we mentioned last night, Moshe Gerstein — a 35-year-old corporate associate in the New York office of Gibson Dunn, who also once worked at Skadden — has been charged by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office with child pornography possession. And we’re not talking about garden-variety kiddie porn, but images of a particularly disturbing nature.

Let’s learn more about the charges against this young lawyer, have a look at Moshe’s mug, and hear from some tipsters who know him — including a former colleague….

Moshe Gerstein

For those of you studying for the New York bar exam, here are the specific charges Gerstein faces, according to the New York Law Journal:

The indictment included two counts of Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child, §263.15, a Class D felony, which carries a potential prison term of up to seven years, and five counts of Possessing a Sexual Performance of a Child, §263.16, a Class E felony that carries up to four years.

Gibson Dunn is a superb law firm, turning out work product that is thorough and comprehensive. And the Manhattan District Attorney alleges that Moshe Gerstein was similarly thorough and comprehensive:

On May 10, 2011, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office investigators and Homeland Security agents executed a search warrant on the home of MOSHE GERSTEIN, 35, a corporate attorney at a New York law firm. Three computers and an external hard drive containing a collection of approximately 5,000 images of child sexual assault were seized in GERSTEIN’s home. GERSTEIN is charged with Promoting a Sexual Performance by a Child and Possessing a Sexual Performance by a Child, according to his indictment.

First, note that the alleged images aren’t just “ordinary” child pornography, but “images of child sexual assault.” I don’t want to sound overly judgmental, but that is pretty sick stuff. According to District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., the 26 defendants “stockpiled images of the brutal rapes and sexual assaults of tens of thousands of real children,” and they “traded images of child sexual assault the way that others trade baseball cards.”

Second, did the D.A. allege possession of five thousand images? Many of us have our own little wank stashes, especially in the cyber-age — as the old song goes, the internet is for porn — but I’m not sure if a normal person, to say nothing of a busy New York lawyer, could view 5,000 images in a lifetime.

Gerstein has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and he is next scheduled to appear in court on June 22, per the NYLJ. “If he’s guilty, he’ll get plenty of shaming, as well as substantial time up the river,” said one source to ATL. “It really is an extraordinary story.”

Extraordinary in large part due to Moshe Gerstein’s impressive educational and professional background. His bio has been pulled from the Gibson Dunn website, but you can learn about him over at Martindale.com (bio posted below, in case it gets yanked from there too).

Moshe Gerstein graduated from Yale College in 1998, magna cum laude, with a B.S. in math and computer science. He then headed off to Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 2001, again magna cum laude (no small feat — in many years, there are no summa graduates from HLS, so magna is as good as it gets). While at the Law School, he served as an editor of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology.

(Gerstein’s undergraduate major in C.S. and his service on the Law and Technology journal are perhaps not great for someone in his shoes. Computer knowledge will make it harder for someone to claim the images were accidentally downloaded, a popular story for child pornography defendants when I worked as a prosecutor.)

Gerstein is admitted to the Massachusetts and New York bars and has had no professional misconduct claims against him, according to his Avvo profile. He first practiced at Skadden Arps, another powerhouse law firm, then joined Gibson Dunn in 2008. At GDC, Gerstein focuses — or focused, in case he’s no longer there — on M&A transactions.

On a personal level, it seems that Moshe Gerstein might be recently married — to one Jennifer Jackson, in April 2011. Check out what appears to be their Amazon.com registry (entirely mostly bought out, except for five $25 Amazon gift cards — can they be redeemed at a criminal-defense firm?).

Is Moshe Gerstein still working at Gibson Dunn? We don’t know; the firm did not respond to our inquiries. Law firm PR guru Rich Klein thinks that GDC’s “no comment” approach is a mistake: Gibson “missed a golden opportunity to say SOMETHING about how horrible it is to find out one of your attorneys was allegedly involved in one of the most despicable crimes imaginable.”

What do individual lawyers who know Gerstein think of the news? One former Gibson Dunn colleague, who was not a fan of Gerstein or his work product, opined to ATL that Gerstein was “a huge weirdo.”

“I’d been wondering about him for years, and why it took them so long to fire him,” said this tipster. “Hope this finally does it.”

That’s just one person’s opinion, of course. And as noted in D.A. Cyrus Vance’s press release, “[t]he charges are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”

If you have additional information about Moshe Gerstein, positive or otherwise, that you’d be willing to share, please email us (subject line: “Moshe Gerstein”), or text us (646-820-8477). Thanks.

Gibson Dunn Associate Among 26 Arrested For Trading Images of Violent Child Sexual Assaults [New York Law Journal]
DA VANCE: 26 CHARGED FOR POSSESSION OF GRAPHIC IMAGES AND VIDEOS OF CHILD SEXUAL ASSAULT [New York County District Attorney's Office]
Lawyer Moshe Gerstein Indicted on Child Pornography Charges; Gibson Dunn Misses Opportunity [LawFirmsPR]
Moshe Gerstein [Martindale.com]
Moshe Gerstein [Avvo.com]

MARTINDALE.COM — MOSHE GERSTEIN BIO


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