John J. O’Brien

* It’s not just media groups that are urging the Supreme Court to allow live coverage of the announcement of the ACA decision. Senators Patrick Leahy and Chuck Grassley of the Senate Judiciary Committee have joined the club. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Dewey know whether this failed firm’s former partners will be settling their claims any time soon? Team Togut hopes to reach a deal in the next six weeks, and claims that cooperation will absolve D&L’s deserters of all future liability. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* From Biglaw to the big house: former Sullivan & Cromwell partner John O’Brien, who is serving time for tax evasion charges, has been suspended from practicing law in New York. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* A Stradling Yocca partner and his wife, a Boalt Hall graduate, stand accused of planting drugs on a school volunteer who supervised their son. Looks like the only thing they’re straddling now is jail time. [OC Register]

* Dharun Ravi was released early from jail yesterday after completing a little more than half of his 30-day sentence. Funny how bad behavior got him into the slammer, but good behavior got him out of it. [CNN]

* “Why would somebody so smart do something so stupid?” Kenneth Kratz, the sexting DA from Wisconsin, claims that the answer to that question is an addiction to sex and prescription drugs. [Herald Times Reporter]

* Jay-Z’s got 99 problems and this bitch is one. He’s been accused by Patrick White of plagiarizing parts of his own best-selling memoir, “Decoded,” and slapped with a copyright infringement suit. [New York Daily News]

John J. O'Brien

Last August, John J. O’Brien, who was once a highly regarded and well-liked partner in the celebrated M&A practice of Sullivan & Cromwell, pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor tax offenses. The charges of conviction were mere misdemeanors, but the amounts involved were large, as you’d expect from a well-paid partner at S&C.

O’Brien was accused of failing to file income-tax returns for tax years 2001 to 2008, on almost $11 million in partnership income. In the end, he pleaded guilty to failing to file taxes relating to $9.2 million in partnership income, for tax years 2003 to 2008.

Earlier today, John O’Brien was sentenced. The sentencing hearing provided some interesting additional information about why O’Brien acted as he did.

So is O’Brien trading Biglaw for the Big House? And if so, how long a sentence did he receive?

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John J. O'Brien

Remember John J. O’Brien? Back in April 2009, we wrote about the mysterious departure of John O’Brien from Sullivan & Cromwell, where he was a well-regarded and well-liked partner in the M&A department. In a follow-up post in December 2009, we noted : “When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure.”

In our December 2009 post, we reported that John O’Brien “left Sullivan & Cromwell due to an issue relating to his taxes.” We added that the problem was personal, i.e., that it did not implicate S&C or any of its clients (unlike the fraud of another former SullCrom partner, Carlos Spinelli-Noseda, who defrauded the firm and its clients of more than $500K).

Some readers pushed back on this reporting. They claimed that John O’Brien left voluntarily and for perfectly innocent reasons. They told us to leave O’Brien alone. They accused us of harboring ill-will towards Sullivan & Cromwell (even though, to be honest, large law firms are somewhat interchangeable for us here at ATL; they’re all just potential sources of news to write about).

In light of all the flak we took for our John O’Brien coverage — similar to the criticism we received for covering Theodore Freedman’s departure from Kirkland & Ellis, a few months before Freedman got indicted by the feds — please forgive us for gloating a little. (This gloating is directed at our critics, not at John O’Brien; we have nothing against O’Brien and wish him the best of luck in moving on with his life.)

Today brings news that John J. O’Brien has been hit with federal criminal charges. Like Ted Freedman, John O’Brien has been hit with tax-related charges. But the numbers involved are larger — a lot larger….

UPDATE (7 PM): O’Brien pleaded guilty. See the update appended to the end of this post.

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Ted Freedman

Last October, we wrote about the mysterious departure from Kirkland & Ellis of Theodore Freedman. Freedman was a prominent bankruptcy and restructuring partner at the firm, based out of the New York office.

As we mentioned in the story, our coverage of Freedman’s departure was prompted by “interesting rumors.” We hoped that our post would result in additional corroboration of what we were hearing. Alas, our write-up just prompted the usual attacks from Kirkland Kool-Aid drinkers, who accused us in the comments of harboring ill-will toward K&E and engaging in shoddy journalism.

Well, this time we’ll enjoy the last laugh (not because we have anything against K&E — we don’t — but because we like being proven correct). We can share what we know about Ted Freedman, because the rumors are now embodied in a federal criminal indictment….

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Theodore Freedman is — or was — a prominent bankruptcy and restructuring partner at Kirkland & Ellis, based out of the firm’s New York office. Freedman has been practicing law for almost 40 years; he graduated from Northwestern Law in 1972 and is admitted to the bars of D.C. (1973), Illinois (1976), and New York (1992).

Word on the street, however, is that Ted Freedman has left, or is in the process of leaving, K&E. He’s no longer on the Kirkland website. Check out the list of K&E lawyers whose last names start with F; he’s not there.

Then try running a Google search for theodore freedman kirkland ellis — even the Google cache version is gone. Nice work, Kirkland IT people.

So what happened to Ted Freedman?

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Plus a request for updates on ex-DPW and S&C partners.

John OBrien John J OBrien headshot Sullcrom Sullivan Cromwell partner.jpgBack in April, we wondered about the departure from Sullivan & Cromwell of John O’Brien, a highly regarded and well-liked corporate partner who focused on M&A work. This development captured our interest because it’s unusual for lawyers to leave the (highly lucrative) partnership of a top firm like S&C.

When partners leave a place like Sullivan & Cromwell, there’s often a story behind the departure. E.g., Carlos Spinelli-Noseda (partner left S&C after billing clients and firm for more than $500,000 in fraudulent travel and entertainment expenses).

In addition, word on the street was that O’Brien was escorted from the building by security personnel. Partners are being asked to leave their firms with increasing frequency during the recession — but they’re not usually walked out by muscle.

So we decided to do a little digging.

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Sullivan Cromwell LLP new logo Sullcrom.jpgThis year has been an interesting one so far for Sullivan & Cromwell. There has been happy news, like firm chairman H. Rodgin Cohen — banking M&A god, and a contender for a top Treasury Department post, before he withdrew — being named Dealmaker of the Year. There has been tragic news, like the killing of one S&C secretary (and the wounding of a second).

John OBrien John J OBrien headshot Sullcrom Sullivan Cromwell partner.jpgThis latest piece of news, like the pushing back of start dates to November 2 for incoming associates, falls somewhere in between. Above the Law has learned that John O’Brien — a corporate, er, “general practice” partner at S&C, where he handled “mergers and acquisitions, investment management, [and] corporate and securities matters” — has left the firm. He joined the firm in 1992 and made partner in 2001.

Multiple sources report that O’Brien’s departure was involuntary. Apparently he was removed from the building by security personnel, sometime last week. His removal came as a shock to many. According to one S&C tipster, O’Brien was known around 125 Broad Street as “a well-respected attorney and incredibly nice individual” — one of the nicest people at S&C.

(That may not be saying much, given the firm’s reputation for hiring folks like the infamous DB. But O’Brien was also highly esteemed for his legal skills at the uber-prestigious, super-successful firm, home to many great legal minds.)

Regardless of the exact reasons for John O’Brien’s departure — if you have information, please email us — it is confirmed that he is no longer with the firm.

He no longer appears on the external S&C website. Nor is he on the firm intranet, sources at the firm inform us. We called his former direct-dial number and received no answer. We called the main S&C switchboard and asked to speak with him. After placing us on hold for a long time, the receptionist returned to inform us that O’Brien “is no longer with the company” (and that she had no forwarding information for him).

It was all very reminiscent of the Carlos Spinelli-Noseda situation. As you may recall, Spinelli-Noseda — like O’Brien, a young, highly regarded, very well-liked corporate partner at S&C — mysteriously disappeared from the firm. Several months later, it came to light that Spinelli-Noseda defrauded clients and the firm (to the tune of $500,000, through submission of fraudulent travel and entertainment expenses).

Last night, we reached out to H. Rodgin Cohen and to a firm spokesperson for comment. Neither has gotten back to us yet; if and when we hear anything, we’ll let you know. If you have inside info, please email us, or call (212-334-1871, ext. 9).

More about John J. O’Brien and Sullivan & Cromwell, including cached versions of his firm and Martindale-Hubbell bios, after the jump.

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