Crime

monica_conyers_bio.jpgWednesday, I openly begged for some good news coming out of Detroit. It appears somebody was listening. Today, Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers pleaded guilty to bribery.
I know what you are thinking, how could a public official admitting to selling her vote be a good thing? Well, it’s great news for the city because it means that there is one less corrupt politician menacing Motown.
And “menacing” is probably the most appropriate way to describe the wife of Congressman John Conyers. We’ve written about her before, last year she called the city council president “Shrek,” and an eighth grader had to try to teach her about etiquette. Since then she’s a lovely time: hiring family members for staff positions and scolding the media for harassment.
Getting her out of office has to give the whole city a lift.
The scandal that brought her down saw Conyers sell her swing vote on the city council for approximately $6,000. That is also great news for Detroit, it shows that business are willing to invest at least six large in the city!
Even the ATL commenters kept the good news rolling, after the jump.

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Robert Simels Robert M Simels Rob Simels.jpgThe Village Voice had a great piece last week on the developing trial of Robert Simels, a New York attorney who has attracted a fair amount of fame from defending alleged mobsters and other assorted “kingpins.”

Legendary local attorney Robert Simels is only being punished for representing some of New York’s most unredeemable gangsters, say some in local legal circles. Kind of a what-goes-around-comes-around situation.
Simels not only lawyered for mafia turncoat Henry Hill (on whose life GoodFellas was based), but also some of the biggest Latino and black drug kingpins of the ’80s and ’90s. And now, Simels himself is in deep trouble. He’s been indicted for allegedly tampering with witnesses in a case revolving around a comparatively little-known Guyanese drug gangster, Shaheed “Roger” Khan.

There is talk that Simels has been hauled into court as a punishment for his unsavory client list. Coincidentally enough, his trial is taking place before U.S. District Judge John Gleeson — a former prosecutor who went after John Gotti.
So it should come as no surprise that Simels has turned to another legendary defender of clients with supposed mafia ties, Gerald Shargel:

Simels has hired Gerald Shargel, one of Gotti’s main lawyers and a guy who is, in fact, one of the most prominent mob lawyers in the city.

Nice.
But did you know that Shargel also doubles as a professor at Brooklyn Law School?
Details after the jump.

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Thumbnail image for Judge Kent.jpgThe Not-So-Honorable Samuel Kent — the first federal judge to be charged with a sex crime, and now a convicted felon, after pleading guilty to obstruction of justice — is leaving the bench.
But he’s taking his sweet time about it:

U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent on Tuesday submitted his ”unconditional resignation,” which will take effect June 1, 2010.

Kent’s lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, says the judge decided to resign to avoid the ”spectacle” of an impeachment process by Congress. The House Judiciary Committee had scheduled a hearing on the matter for Wednesday.

Kent’s resignation announcement comes a week after denial of his request to retire on disability due to depression — which would have allowed him to continue receiving his full salary for the rest of his life.

Yes, that’s right — June 2010. What’s going on? Professor Jonathan Turley explains (gavel bang: commenter):

The date is designed to milk the system of as much benefits as possible — only to resign shortly before any completion of impeachment. Absent a voluntary resignation or impeachment, Kent can continue to receive his judicial salary.

Pretty pretty clever. Count on a federal judge to work the legal loopholes.
Judge Kent Resigns On Eve of Impeachment Hearing — Effective One Year From Now [Jonathan Turley]
Convicted Federal Judge Submits Resignation Letter [Associated Press]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Judge Samuel B. Kent

Thumbnail image for Judge Kent.jpgWe noted in yesterday’s Morning Docket that libidinous federal judge Samuel Kent is heading to the slammer for three years. We’ve covered Kent’s unraveling extensively, but new details continue to emerge.
Kent is the first federal judge to be charged with a sex crime. He could have faced up to 20 years in prison, but a plea agreement got him a shorter sentence of just 33 months. Despite loudly proclaiming his innocence last year, the 1990 Bush appointee now admits to being an alcoholic and having “nonconsensual sexual contact with two employees between 2003 and 2007.”
From the Houston Chronicle:

Cathy McBroom, the one-time Galveston case manager for Kent who made the formal complaint that led to the judge’s downfall, said he first attacked her in a small room about 10 feet away from co-workers when he came to work drunk. She said she didn’t want to give up her job and her pension so she tried to avoid him as much as possible, while Kent told people she wanted the affair.
“Being molested and groped by a drunken giant is not my idea of an affair,” McBroom said. She said she lost her marriage, her Galveston position, sleep, self-esteem and more and asked Kent be sentenced so he and others will remember it.
Donna Wilkerson, Kent’s secretary, said Kent sexually and psychologically abused her starting her fifth day on the job.
“He said he hated bullies. How sad,” Wilkerson said. “He’s the biggest bully of them all.”
She said she believes Kent is “crazy” and she fears for her family’s safety.

The ABA Journal points out that Kent is still being paid a judicial salary. Kent’s lawyer says though that Kent intends to “retire early due to an unspecified disability.” Does ‘being a sexual predator’ count as a disability?
However, Kent may not have the retirement option. Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Lamar Smith, the committee’s ranking Republican member, are getting the congressional impeachment process started today.
Kent sentenced to 33 months behind bars [Houston Chronicle]
Disgraced Judge Gets Nearly Three Years in Prison [Wall Street Journal]
Judge Kent Apologizes to His Family, But Not Claimed Sexual Abuse Victims [ABA Journal]
Earlier: Previous ATL Coverage of Samuel Kent

Thumbnail image for Judge Kent.jpgOn Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent lost a motion to have his obstruction of justice charge dropped or moved to a different trial.

Today, he copped a plea and announced his intent to retire. According to the Wall Street Journal Law Blog:

The jurist pleaded guilty to one count of obstruction of justice today and retired from the bench, avoiding a trial on several charges that he sexually abused two female employees….

“Judge Kent believes that this settlement is in the best interest of all involved,” his attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said after this morning’s hearing. “A trial would have been long, embarrassing and difficult for all involved.”

Long and difficult? Sounds about right.

Update: Read more about Judge Kent’s fate over here.

Breaking News: Judge Kent Cops Plea, Resigns [WSJ Law Blog]

Judge Kent accepts plea deal and retires from bench [Houston Chronicle]

Elizabeth%20Halverson%20small%20Judge%20Elizabeth%20Halverson%20Liz%20Halverson%20Above%20the%20Law%20blog.jpgThere is justice for Judge Elizabeth Halverson. Her husband is going to jail for three to ten years for beating her with a frying pan.

Not surprisingly, Ed Halverson didn’t go down without a fight:

Before he was sentenced, Edward Lee Halverson, 49, stunned a Las Vegas courtroom with a claim that he struck Elizabeth Halverson at their home Sept. 4 because his wife, who must use a scooter to get around, threatened to stab him.

“If she wouldn’t have pulled a knife on me and threatened me, I wouldn’t have clocked her,” Halverson said. “I defended myself.”

Nice line. But I liked it better when Mr. Blond said it: “If they hadn’t done what I’d told them not to do, they’d still be alive.”

More Halverson tidbits after the jump.

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michigan law school strikes back.jpgWe have been following the sad tale of a University of Michigan 2L and a U-M professor who got caught up in a prostitution scandal. Yesterday, the Michigan 2L responded to some of the comments that have been made about her.

Today, the professor involved asked ATL for equal time and an opportunity to tell his side of the story. In a letter entitled: “Have you considered whether she may be simply lying?” and sent to the entire law school, the professor says:

I wish to raise with you the claim that, for whatever reasons, your student is simply lying. Allegations must be substantiated with facts; here are the facts as they emerge from the police report (which, as I am sure many of you know, anyone is entitled to get from the police).

We reprint the letter in full after the jump.

And just to be clear, this will conclude our coverage of these events. Both parties have had an opportunity to say their piece, and we’d like to leave it at that.

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michigan law school strikes back.jpgI know a lot of readers think we have an ax to grind with the University of Michigan Law School (even though we take pot shots at Head Coach Sweater Vest at every opportunity). We like Michigan. Maybe if more U-M Law students trusted that, a certain student would have come to ATL instead of the police. At least then she wouldn’t have been (immediately) charged with a crime for her involvement in a prostitution scandal that also implicated a U-M Near Eastern Studies professor:

The case came to light in April when the student went to an Ann Arbor police station to report she was assaulted by [Professor Yaron] Eliav after they met at a hotel on the city’s north side.

The student told police she was advertising sex acts online via Craigslist to help pay tuition costs. For an in-state student, U-M Law School tuition is $41,500 a year; out-of-state students pay $44,500.

The student told police she reluctantly agreed to allow Eliav to strike her buttocks with a belt, but got upset when he slapped her in the face twice, reports said. She said she suffered vision problems afterward, but did not have any lasting injuries.

Even the Ann Arbor police couldn’t keep from cracking wise about the law student’s “term-time job”:

The rarity of how the case began – with a law student showing up at the police department’s front desk to report she was assaulted while committing a crime herself – was not lost on investigators.

“Perhaps she should have cracked a legal textbook before coming in to the police station to talk about this,” Ann Arbor Detective Sgt. Richard Kinsey said.

More fun details after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “University of Michigan Law Student Should Have Come to ATL First”

Rod Blagojevich illinois law above the law.JPGSome have wondered: Where was star litigator Dan Webb at Governor Rod Blagojevich’s bond hearing?

High-powered Winston & Strawn litigators Dan Webb and Bradley Lerman were not at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s side when he appeared at a bond hearing on Tuesday. Blagojevich instead tapped Sheldon Sorosky, a lawyer from two-partner Chicago litigation shop Kaplan & Sorosky. Whither Winston & Strawn?

Here’s a possible answer, from the Wall Street Journal (subscription):

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich owes more than $500,000 in unpaid bills to the law firm Winston & Strawn, his primary counsel since federal investigators began looking into various allegations of corruption five years ago. It is unclear whether the legal bills are for personal or campaign work, or for both. Campaign filings show Winston & Strawn had charged the governor’s campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, nearly $2 million in legal fees through the end of 2007.

“Friends of Blagojevich”: probably in short supply right now.

Update: As noted in the comments, if Winston & Strawn isn’t eager to rep Rod, it’s understandable. Recall how the firm blew $20 million defending Illinois’s last corrupt governor, George Ryan. It lost the trial, lost the appeal, and couldn’t even get pro bono credit for the thousands of hours spent on the case.

Blagojevich Has $500,000 in Unpaid Legal Bills [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

Webb-less in Chicago: Where Was the Star Litigator At Blago’s Bond Hearing? [Am Law Daily]

Dreier LLP Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier Mark Dreier Drier Dryer.jpgApologies, readers. Although we broke the story of high-profile lawyer Marc Dreier’s arrest in Canada, we’ve fallen behind in covering the latest developments in the Dreier saga (of which there have been many). Fortunately, our friends over at Am Law Daily and the WSJ Law Blog have been following the story quite closely.

We’ve collected some links at the end of this post. The highlights:

  • A summary of recent developments, from the WSJ Law Blog: “Dreier appeared to get hit from all sides: a criminal charge in New York stemming from an alleged $100 million fraud against various hedge funds; an SEC suit alleging Dreier had been marketing and selling fake promissory notes to investors; and a suit by Wachovia Bank against Dreier, Dreier LLP (and a handful of others), alleging that a credit revolver and term loan extended to the firm are in default, as of November 1, upon which the bank is owed some $12.7 million.”

    Marc Dreier Marc S Dreier LLP.jpg

  • The latest news, from Am Law Daily: “[I]t appears very likely that client funds are indeed missing, according to a sworn statement (PDF) that Dreier partner Joel Chernov gave the SEC…. In the statement, Chernov said Dreier spoke to him and fellow Dreier partner Steven Gursky from a Toronto jail after his arrest there for impersonating a lawyer in an attempt to scam an investment group into wiring him more than $30 million. In those conversations, Chernov told the SEC, Dreier admitted improperly using client funds. Dreier also said that he could have refilled the escrow accounts if only he could return to New York. How? Apparently by selling part of an art collection valued at between $30 and $40 million, according to a separate statement (PDF) from John Provenzano, the firm’s Controller.”

    “In his statement, Provenzano claimed Dreier called him twice from the Toronto jail asking him in separate requests to wire $8 million and $10 million from the firm’s escrow accounts into Dreier’s personal accounts. Provenzano (wisely) refused. He also told Dreier the firm owed clients $38 million in connection with its representation of 360Networks. That’s when Dreier mentioned the money he could make selling his art.”

    Maxim men's magazine.jpgFine art — no surprises there. As noted, Marc Dreier has a taste for the finer things in life (like luxury real estate).

    And that’s not all. A source tells us that Dreier is something of a playboy, with a pattern and practice of dating Maxim models (yes, plural). And “not ‘Maxim-quality’ models,” emphasized our source, “but actual Maxim models.”

    If Marc Dreier ends up in prison, at least he’ll have nice memories to keep him warm at night.

    Filings Describe “Devastating Effect” on Dreier LLP [WSJ Law Blog]

    Client Funds Missing, Details on Dreier’s Art Collection, Attorneys Fleeing [Am Law Daily]

    Dreier Faces More Allegations [Wall Street Journal (subscription)]

    The Death of the Dreier Model [Am Law Daily]

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