White-Collar Crime

In Apocalypse Now, while winding his way up river to kill Marlon Brando for war crimes, Martin Sheen’s character muses that “charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500.” Well, the racing world should be very thankful that Indianapolis isn’t in Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance’s jurisdiction.

Vance’s office is prosecuting a bank for its alleged role in the housing market meltdown. Note “a” bank, as in singular. While the entire financial world crashed, Vance is going after a small, family-run bank that serves New York’s Chinese immigrant community.

Yeah, that’s totally who I’d blame for the crisis too.

But this case does, perhaps unwittingly, expose the fantasy guiding prosecutors in the aftermath of the crisis. And suggests that the Manhattan DA’s office needs to look up the word “epitomizes”….

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Last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan charged two former stockbrokers, Thomas Conradt and David Weishaus, with insider trading. There is a legal angle here (aside from the criminal charges and the civil case being brought by the SEC): Conradt is a lawyer, a member of the Maryland and Colorado bars, and Weishaus graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law a year after Conradt.

To be honest, though, we’re not intensely interested in Conradt and Weishaus. Their alleged misdeeds occurred while they were working in finance, not law; the contours of Conradt’s legal career are somewhat unclear; and as for Weishaus, it’s not clear that he ever passed the bar or practiced as a lawyer.

As regular readers of Above the Law know, we have a weakness for prestige around these parts. So we’re far more interested in the former Cravath associate who, according to law enforceent allegations, made their misdeeds possible….

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* While the mainstream media may claim the presidential race between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is neck-and-neck in a dead heat, the majority of Am Law 200 managing partners are predicting the incumbent will be reelected for another four years. [Am Law Daily]

* In the meantime, infamous media whores Donald Trump and Gloria Allred have both promised “October surprises” for our presidential candidates. Guess we’ll finally find out what they’re yapping about later today after Allred gets back from court and the Don tweets. [ABC News]

* “These lawyers are my kind of scum. Fearless and inventive.” Raj Rajaratnam’s attorneys plan to appeal his insider trading conviction later this week on claims that the government improperly wiretapped him. [DealBook / New York Times]

* There’s no way this statute is going to be pushed back into the closet. New York’s Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the state’s gay marriage law on the basis of a violation of open-meeting laws. [Bloomberg]

* Lindsay Lohan’s father wants a judge to place the fading star under a conservatorship. Hey, it worked for Britney Spears, right? And on the plus side, it’s a great way to get her name back into the news. [CNN]

Jason Hunt (left) and Samuel Cole Wakefield

This week brought unfortunate news for an unambiguously gay duo. A former employee of Vanderbilt Law and his boyfriend pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from the law school — as well as to charges of aggravated statutory rape. Both men then got hit with some pretty heavy sentences.

How much time are they getting? How did they perpetrate their fraudulent scheme? And what did they blow the money on?

Keep reading for more details of their crimes, some color commentary from local correspondents, and photographs of some beautiful youths who used to hang out with the defendants….

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Whatever happened to the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation into the failure of Dewey & LeBoeuf? It seems like we haven’t heard about it for weeks. Today we finally have some news to pass along.

As we mentioned in Morning Docket, this morning the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about the current state of the investigation. There are a few additional details, but on the whole, we don’t know very much at this point.

We know more about how you can get your hands on part of Dewey’s art collection. Keep on reading for details on that subject….

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(Plus your chance to own a piece of Dewey.)

Nothing pisses off a lawyer more than uncertainty. Uncertainty gives rise to the risk of undermining the facade of perfect knowledge that attorneys prefer to convey to their clients. Given this character trait, it’s no surprise that the collective white-collar and corporate counsel community is freaking the hell out about every scrap of information it can glean from the Justice Department about its new Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement policy.

So what exactly has these observant lawyers in a tizzy?

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All hail Captain Hammer!

Flash back to 2005. Tom DeLay was the Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, living in a safe Republican district, and poised to chart the course of American politics forever. DeLay was nicknamed “The Hammer” for his brutal efficiency as Majority whip, crushing all dissent from backbenchers and building a solid GOP coalition — a nickname that the fundamentalist DeLay endorses because “the hammer is one of the carpenter’s favorite tools.” In other words, Tom DeLay was a tool.

So what happened?

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Most of us know it’s not about what you know, it’s who you know. Incidentally, sometimes it’s also about who your enemies are.

When a big man takes a fall, sometimes folks come out of the woodwork to quicken his race to bottom — especially if they are accidentally invited.

Example A: convicted felon and disbarred attorney Steven Lippman. The former Scott Rothstein partner asked for support letters from friends and colleagues during sentencing, but one lawyer deigned to provide an ice-cold glass of brutal honesty instead. And judging from the sentence Lippman received this afternoon, he’ll have plenty of time for self-reflection.

Keep your friends close, and the people who write your letters of recommendation even closer….

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What is wrong with Trenton?

In the chilly late night hours of Christmas 1776, General George Washington crossed the Delaware River to liberate Trenton from Hessians forces serving the British. It was a remarkable display of leadership that Trenton has not witnessed since.

Earlier this week, the New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a 31-page criminal complaint charging Tony Mack, Mayor of Trenton, in connection with an alleged bribery scheme worth around $119,000, relating to the sale of city-owned land to private investors….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Pol Dancing: What Is Wrong With Trenton?”

In a time when many law firms are relatively less stable than their employees would like, it’s definitely not good to hear about a Biglaw executive allegedly defrauding his firm out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But such is the world we live in. So let’s get to it: which former executive at Chicago-based Mayer Brown is facing pretty egregious fraud charges?

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