White-Collar Crime

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do? Left to right: John Michael Farren, Scott Rothstein, Michael Margulies.


For some reason, today brings lots of news about lawyers and the criminal justice system. And we’re not talking about lawyers representing clients, but lawyers who are the clients: John Michael Farren, the former White House lawyer accused of attempting to murder his wife; Scott Rothstein, the Florida attorney who ran a massive Ponzi scheme; and Michael Margulies, the former Lindquist & Vennum partner who misappropriated millions in client money. We’ve decided to hit this rogues’ gallery in a single, omnibus post.

Let’s start with John Michael Farren, the former Bush Administration lawyer and Xerox general counsel charged with attempted murder and first-degree strangulation of his wife, Skadden counsel Mary Margaret Fadden. As reported by the ABA Journal, John Farren has posted $750,000 bail and been released to the “Institute of Living” — which sounds like a fancy spa where you eat seaweed and do yoga, but is actually a mental hospital in Hartford.

The news coverage also reveals that the wealthy couple’s divorce has been finalized. How were their millions distributed?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “A Trio of Misbehaving Lawyers: Some Updates”

Back in the summer of 2008, we wrote a post entitled “Summer Associates of the Day: Sapphic Summers in Lesbianic Lip-Lock.” The title of the post pretty much says it all.

Well, it turns out that a partner at the same firm, Minneapolis-based Lindquist & Vennum, may have been misbehaving too. The Pioneer Press reports that Michael S. Margulies, a leading Twin Cities real estate lawyer, has been accused of professional misconduct — in the form of “misappropriat[ing] significant sums from a limited number of clients and from the firm,” according to a statement by the firm. Margulies has withdrawn from the firm’s partnership, reported his conduct to Minnesota’s professional responsibility office, and agreed to be disbarred. He has also resigned from the St. Paul Planning Commission, where he served several terms under different mayors.

What prompted this alleged theft? It seems that Michael Margulies, former head of Lindquist’s real estate group, may have loved real estate not wisely, but too well. From the Pioneer Press:

Margulies, 56, of St. Paul, and his personal company, Triad Services, were sued in Ramsey County District Court by a real estate development company for which he had worked as an attorney, secretary and treasurer. In the lawsuit, CMB Minnetonka LLC alleged that Margulies “made numerous illicit withdrawals” from CMB’s bank account and line of credit at Highland Bank and used the money — $1.5 million or more — for his own purposes.

Specifically, the suit claims Margulies spent the money to overhaul the historic mansion at 516 Summit Ave. in St. Paul that he owned with his former wife.

So he allegedly did it all for love of a house. Was it worth it? Just how nice is this pile o’ bricks?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyerly Lairs: Partner Accused of Misappropriating Money to Overhaul Minnesota Mansion”

tax headaches tax evasion taxation tax crimes.JPG‘Tis the season for… W-2s. When you get that handy-dandy form from your employer, we suggest that you file it with your federal income tax return — in timely fashion. [FN1]
And don’t forget to file any applicable state and local tax returns, too. Otherwise you could find yourself in deep doo-doo. From the Long Island Press:

Three attorneys, an accountant and a doctor were arrested Tuesday for failing to file a combined total of more than $365,000 in state personal income taxes, Nassau prosecutors said. The arrests were part of a statewide sweep by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSDTF).

Arresting someone on a failure-to-file charge? Seems a bit extreme. But if the authorities wanted to send a message about how seriously they take tax crimes, they succeeded.

The attorneys who were charged with failure to file a personal income tax return include 47-year-old David Mollon of Great Neck, 50-year-old Kelly Talcott of Sea Cliff and Dennis O’Leary, 57, of Westbury. Facing the same charge is 53-year-old Gerald Gartner of Lawrence, a certified public accountant, and 62-year-old Avelino Rosales of Cedarhurst, a physician.

O’Leary is a personal injury lawyer — res ipsa loquitur. But Mollon and Talcott are (or were) partners at large law firms, places whose names you’d recognize.
Find out which firms, as well as how much Mollon and Talcott earned during the tax years in question, after the jump.

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Scott Rothstein George Clooney Up in the Air.jpgIn the new movie Up in the Air — which is worth seeing, if you haven’t already — Ryan Bingham, played by George Clooney, is on a quest to rack up 10 million frequent flyer miles. That’s a heck of a lot of miles. In the Walter Kirn novel the film was based on, it was a more realistic one million miles (but, as film critic Kenneth Turan notes, “that’s product placement and inflation for you”).
To some people, however, 10 million miles — or points, the credit-card version of miles, also redeemable for free air travel and other goodies — is chump change. From the Miami Herald:

[Ponzi schemer Scott] Rothstein (inset left) racked up 20,920,701 rewards points on his Amex card — and the feds want to grab them all to help pay back his victims. Generally, American Express doles out one point for every dollar charged on the card, which can be used to buy merchandise, airline tickets, hotel rooms, restaurant meals and gift cards.

So, what did Scott Rothstein do to accrue all those points?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Scott Rothstein and His Amex Card: He Never Left Home Without It”

Bear Stearns BSC Above the Law blog.jpgCongratulations to Williams & Connolly and Hughes Hubbard & Reed, the firms that represented Ralph Cioffi, and Brune & Richard, the litigation boutique that represented Matthew Tannin.
Ed. note: This post has been corrected; an earlier version switched the defendants around. Thanks for pointing out the mistake, commenters.
Not Guilty! [Dealbreaker]
Breaking News: Bear Defendants Found Not Guilty on All Charges [WSJ Law Blog]
BREAKING: Bear Stearns Hedge Fund Managers Not Guilty [Am Law Daily]
Bear Stearns Hedge Fund Managers NOT Guilty On All Counts [Business Insider]

Michael Kimelman Mike Kimelman Michael Kimmelman Arthur J Cutillo Arthur Cutillo Ropes Gray headshot.JPGToday the winners of Lawyer of the Day honors are obvious. Congratulations to Arthur Cutillo, Michael Kimelman, and Jason Goldbfarb, three attorneys who stand accused of involvement in the infamous Galleon Group insider trading scheme.

Both Cutillo and Kimelman have distinguished pedigrees, with ties to two top firms. Cutillo (left), a holder of an M.S. in chemical engineering as well as a J.D. (both from Villanova), was an associate at the white-shoe firm of Ropes & Gray. Kimelman (right), a partner at Incremental Capital LLC, once worked as an associate at super-prestigious Sullivan & Cromwell.

Check out Cutillo’s firm bio and Kimelman’s LinkedIn profile over here.

The third charged lawyer, Jason Goldfarb, apparently worked as a personal injury lawyer in Brooklyn. He allegedly served as a conduit of information between Cutillo and Zvi Goffer — the former Galleon employee apparently referred to as “Octopussy” at the SEC, because “he had his arms in so many insider” trading schemes.

More on our three honorees, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers of the Day: Arthur Cutillo, Michael Kimelman, and Jason Goldfarb”

Arthur J Cutillo Arthur Cutillo Ropes Gray headshot.JPGThe news was first reported by CNBC. See Dealbreaker for more details.
We have phone calls and emails in to Ropes & Gray and are waiting to hear back. We will keep you posted on further developments.

If you have more info, please email us. Thanks.

UPDATE (10:00 AM): According to Bloomberg, the FBI has arrested Arthur Cutillo (pictured). He is no longer on the Ropes & Gray website, but you can find his bio via Google Cache. Interestingly enough, he was an IP litigator, not a corporate attorney.

CNBC is now reporting that a Ropes & Gray employee allegedly provided inside information about various “going private” transactions the firm was involved in. Some of these transactions apparently involved companies heavily dependent upon intellectual property, such as technology companies.

UPDATE (10:10 AM): In case the Google Cache entry is removed, we have posted Arthur Cutillo’s bio after the jump. He graduated from Rutgers (undergrad) and Villanova (law), and he worked at Merck before joining Ropes.

UPDATE (10:15 AM): Here is a statement from Ropes & Gray:

We are deeply disappointed to learn about this situation, which suggests an extreme breach of this person’s duty of trust to our clients and to the firm. We cannot comment in detail on an ongoing investigation but we are moving quickly to protect our clients and are cooperating fully with authorities.

UPDATE (12:15 PM): U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (S.D.N.Y.) is giving a press conference discussing the charges. One of the other individuals charged, Michael Kimelman, once worked as an associate at Sullivan & Cromwell.

UPDATE (4:30 PM): We’ve honored Artie Cutillo, Michael Kimelman, and a third lawyer, Jason Goldfarb, as our Lawyers of the Day.
Art Cutillo’s Ropes bio and Mike Kimelman’s LinkedIn profile, after the jump.

Seven Arrested In Insider Trading Case [Dealbreaker]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Breaking: Arrest at Ropes & Gray in Galleon Insider Trading Case”

scott rothstein.jpgAs we’ve noted in Morning Docket for the past two days, lawyer Scott Rothstein is in all kinds of trouble in Florida. From what we understand, it’s Marc Dreier redux, the sunshine state version.

We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the story, but as the Bard would say, the sh** hath hitteth the fan this week.
The WSJ Law Blog is similarly perplexed by the scandal (See What’s Going on at Rothstein Rosenfeldt? Part I and Part II).

Scott Rothstein, a founding partner of Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler, has been out of the country for the last few days, making this all even more confusing. He just flew back into Miami an hour ago and police have surrounded his firm. We give you context after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyer of the Day: Scott Rothstein”

Andrew Cuomo small Andy Cuomo Attorney General New York.JPGA couple of weeks ago, I asked if the mainstream media was aware of the existence of Biglaw lawyers. They’re still not, but the New York Attorney General is. Dealbook reports:

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo fired another shot at Bank of America on Tuesday, asking the bank to allow its lawyers to be questioned.
In a letter to the bank’s outside counsel, Lewis J. Liman of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, Mr. Cuomo wrote that “attorney-client privilege is hindering this office’s ability to make fair and fully informed decisions as to what charges, if any, to bring and whether individual Bank of America officers should be charged.”

What, does Andrew Cuomo want BOA to waive privilege to help him out? I’m not sure that this is how to run a prosecutor’s office, but it seems like a pretty effective way to run for Governor through the headlines.
Cuomo Takes Aim at Bank of America’s Lawyers [Dealbook]
Earlier: The Mainstream Media Is Aware That Law Firms Exist, Right?

Bernie Madoff Bernard Madoff.jpgYou know you want to know….
Hazard a guess. Then click on the link below.
Bernie Madoff’s Greatest Scam Of All [Dealbreaker]
Earlier: What Kind Of Package Is A Bernie Madoff Package?

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