White-Collar Crime

Michael Joyce Judge Michael Thomas Joyce Michael T Joyce Above the Law blog.jpgWe fondly remember this episode of 90210: “Brenda gets into a car accident. The woman involved in the accident claims she has whiplash and threatens to sue the Walsh family.”
But then, when Brenda visits the woman at home to apologize, she looks through the living room window — and sees the woman jazzercising in front of her TV!
We were reminded of it by this AP story:

An appeals court judge was indicted on charges of scamming $440,000 from insurers by claiming he suffered debilitating injuries in a car crash, even while he golfed, skated and went scuba diving, federal prosecutors said….

“The bodily injury he says he sustained we believe was fraudulent,” U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan said.

According to the indictment, Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Michael Thomas Joyce “received $390,000 from his insurer, Erie Insurance Group, and $50,000 from State Farm Insurance, which insured the other driver.” But maybe the insurers should have been a little suspicious:

Prosecutors said Joyce’s car was rear-ended at about 5 mph in August 2001, and no police or medical personnel were called…. [Yet] Joyce complained of debilitating injuries, anxiety and difficulty sleeping and claimed they prevented him from pursuing higher judicial office, prosecutors said.

Being indicted on federal fraud charges might “prevent[] him from pursuing higher judicial office,” too.
Pa. Judge Accused of Bilking Insurers [Associated Press]

We run ATL on a shoestring budget, so we can’t exactly afford to send reporters across the country. Taking the train up to New York, to cover a hearing in L’Affaire Charney, is already a big deal for us.
So we’re delighted when tipsters give us eyewitness reports on breaking news. Today we had a correspondent in the courtroom when the jury returned with its verdict in the stock options backdating prosecution of Gregory Reyes, the former CEO of Brocade Communications.
Our source filed this report:

Gregory Reyes Greg Reyes Brocade Communications Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgJury verdict: Guilty on all counts. Not really a scoop, since it’s all over the media. But we were there and wanted to share.

Courtroom was two rows of press, armed with laptops and blackberries, and three rows of N.D. Cal. externs, armed with nothing else to do during the last week of their externships. And miscellaneous district court clerks, hangers-on, and family.

Reyes’s family was sobbing when the deputy read off the verdict. It was pretty rough. Then a couple of jurors broke out in tears too. Can’t say I envy them.

Or, for that matter, Gregory Reyes. The former member of the Forbes 400 — which he first appeared on at age 37, with a net worth of $1 billion — is presumably headed for federal prison.
Update: ATL’s San Francisco correspondent had this to add:

Judge Breyer [Charles R. Breyer, li'l brother of Justice Breyer] gave the defense one week to file a motion for new trial, partly because he wants to be able to rule on it while the case is fresh in his mind, but also because he’s confident that both sides will be able to staff it on that schedule, or something to that effect. I love it when judges basically tell big firms, “You’ve got enough manpower to throw at this.”

Sentencing is set for November 21. Reyes gets to remain free until then.

Jury Finds Brocade Ex-CEO Guilty on Backdating Charges [WSJ Law Blog]
Ex-Brocade Chief Convicted in Backdating Case [Associated Press]

* When the music stopped, Craig Morford, interim U.S. attorney in Nashville, was left standing. So now Morford must fill Paul McNulty’s uncomfortable shoes as Deputy Attorney General — after several others apparently passed on the job. [Washington Post; New York Times]
* New Jersey lawyer Shalom Stone may need to be as charming as Shalom Harlow to win confirmation to the Third Circuit. [The Hill (ATL shout-out!) via How Appealing]
* Dow Jones director David Li could be in trouble with the SEC. Oh Wells. [DealBreaker]
* Go shorty. [MSNBC]

Michael Vick dog dogfight Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpg* Who let the dogs fight? Who? Who? Feds say: football star Michael Vick. [CNN; TSG]
* Bar-Bri class reps (no, different class reps): No incentive payments for you. [The Recorder]
* Seven-figure legal bills: par for the course for white-collar criminal defendants. [WSJ Law Blog]
* India market hot for law firms. [Law.com]
* Billionaire Siebel gets California Supreme Court’s ok to sue lawyer and judge despite settlement. [The Recorder]
* UK girl loses fight to wear purity ring at school. Chastity belt still under review. [MSNBC]
* Ohio Turnpike murder-for-hire case could result in death sentence. [CNN]

Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes Learch Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgFormer Milberg Weiss partner David Bershad has agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy count, and to cooperate with the feds in their investigation of his former law firm (in which he was once a name partner). The government alleged that Bershad paid kickbacks to clients to serve as plaintiffs in securities class action cases. See here, here, and here.
The best part of the whole story, from the WSJ Law Blog:

* In the earlier years of the alleged conspiracy, Bershad along with Partners A and B and others, “pooled their personal cash into a fund Bershad maintained in his office at Milberg Weiss, which was used by the Conspiring Partners to supply cash for secret payments to paid plaintiffs and others.”

* According to the statement, “the amounts the Conspiring Partners each contributed were supposed to be approximately proportionate to their respective partnership interests in Milberg Weiss. Bershad kept track of the amounts contributed and of the secret cash payments that had been made to paid plaintiffs.”

Now THAT is what we call partnership. Complete trust and cooperation. Working together towards a common goal.
Who says there’s no honor among thieves?
Milberg Weiss’s Bershad to Plead Guilty [WSJ Law Blog]
Bershad Agreement: The Personal Cash Fund [WSJ Law Blog]
Lawyer Pleads Guilty in Securities Case [New York Times]

Justine Clark Kelley Drye Warren Abovethelaw Above the Law blog.jpgKelley Drye & Warren partner Justine Clark looks like a younger, brunette version of Madeleine Albright. But the similarities probably end there, since one would expect the former Secretary of State to pay her taxes.
From the Temporary Attorney blog:

Justine Clark, a partner at Kelly Drye & Warren, just plead guilty for failing to pay state income taxes….

Despite the fact that KDW has seen a steady growth in profits per partner, and despite the fact that KDW has benefited from a steady stream of contract attorney outsourcing, Clark, with greed unquenched, went ahead and screwed New York State out of close to $200,000, based on her $2.7 million earnings.

Her penalty? A slap on the wrist misdemeanor.

Okay, that’s a little harsh. As the New York Post notes, Clark earned $2.68 million not in a single year, but over the course of five years (2000 – 2004). That averages out to a little over $500,000 a year.
And in New York City, teeming with i-bankers and hedge funders, you’re a pauper if if you’re not taking home seven figures per annum. So can we really blame Justine Clark, struggling to keep up with the Joneses, for trying to keep a little more for herself?
Kelly Drye & Warren – Corporate Criminal [Temporary Attorney]
Docs, lawyers prove taxing to N.Y. State [New York Daily News]
Tax-Cheating Lawyers Nabbed [New York Post]
Justine Clark bio [Kelley Drye & Warren]

No? Okay. Then they shouldn’t expect him to clean up after them.
Remember that majorly screwed-up tax case? It’s still screwed up.
District Court Refuses to Correct Government’s Botched Plea Agreement in Biggest Tax Fraud Case in History [TaxProf Blog]
Earlier: This Is Why Cite-Checking Matters

Louisiana state seal Abovethelaw Above the Law.jpgCongratulations to Judge G. Thomas Porteous Jr., a past winner of ATL’s prestigious Judge of the Day award. He’s now back on the federal bench. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

After a year away from the bench, U.S. District Judge Thomas Porteous Jr. will regain both his criminal and civil dockets next month, signaling an end to the long criminal investigation into his personal bankruptcy and possible misdeeds while a federal and Jefferson Parish jurist.

Chief Judge Ginger Berrigan said Thursday that Porteous will return to the U.S. District Court, Eastern District [of Louisiana], in mid-June after spending the past year secluded from friends and under the weight of grand jury hearings into his actions….

Porteous’ attorney, Kyle Schonekas, said federal prosecutors told him a few weeks ago that they didn’t intend to indict Porteous. He said the court then asked Porteous to resume duties at the court.

Isn’t it great to have indictment-free judges? We live in one helluva country.
(But if you’re a Louisiana citizen hoping for your legislators to be indictment-free too, you may be asking for too much.)
Judge Porteous returns to the bench [NOLA.com]
Federal judge returning to bench [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
Nation Shocked at Jefferson Indictment [Wonkette]
Earlier: Send That Robe Out for Dry Cleaning
Judge of the Day: G. Thomas Porteous Jr.

* Cleared Duke lacrosse players given extra year of eligibility. [New York Times]
* ACLU v. Boeing over alleged CIA torture flights. [Jurist]
* Save it for the field, fellas. [Reno Gazette-Journal]
* Milberg partner may plea in class-action kickback case. [WSJ Law Blog]

DealBreaker DB Dead Horse Media Above the Law blog.jpgLaw-related stories are proliferating over at our big sibling site, DealBreaker. Here are three from yesterday afternoon alone:
1. Goldman Sachs Acquitted of All Charges. It’s good to be Goldman:

“In an effort to uphold the rule that the Masters of the Universe can pretty much get away with anything simply because they’re the Masters of the Universe (see, also: Jobs, backdating), a federal judge has ruled that Goldman cannot be included in a lawsuit by Fannie Mae shareholders.”

2. Dow Jones Insider Trading Watch: Two Charges, Dow Jones Director Scutinized. Hmm, this sounds a wee bit fishy to us:

“[T]he SEC filed a lawsuit against a Hong Kong couple, Kan King Wong and Charlotte Ka On Wong Leung, accusing them of insider trading. The couple had purchased $15 million of Dow Jones shares prior to the May 1st announcement.”

They liquidated the position after News Corp.’s unsolicited offer to boy Dow Jones, for a tidy profit of $8.2 million. More details here.
3. In the Future of a Defamation Lawsuit, Dimon Is the Law. Here’s a teaser, concerning the lawsuits that are flying between Dow Chemical and a former executive and board member: “It’s the legal equivalent of a John Woo action scene.”
You can check out the full post here.

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