Andre Birotte Jr. was sworn in as the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Thursday morning during a private ceremony, according to a news release.
Birotte, the former inspector general of the Los Angeles Police Department, replaced Thomas P. O’Brien, who resigned Sept. 1, 2009, to join the white-collar criminal defense practice in the Los Angeles offices of the Paul Hastings law firm. The Los Angeles-based district’s most recent acting U.S. Attorney wass George S. Cardona.
U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. administered the oath in his Los Angeles courtroom.
After the ceremony, Birotte said, “It is my great pleasure to be leading what is widely considered to be one of the nation’s premier public law firms,” adding, “This United States Attorney’s Office has a long tradition of handling some of the most significant cases in the nation, and my goal is to further enhance that tradition.”
The Los Angeles-based U.S. Attorney’s office is the largest outside of the District of Columbia.
Posted in News | Comments Off
A misstep by a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Central District of California has cost the office the option of prosecuting a former business official allegedly involved with securities fraud, The American Lawyer reported.
The case involves the former CFO of Broadcom, William Ruehle. In June 2008, Ruehle and Henry T. Nicholas III, the co-founder and former president and CEO of Broadcom, were charged with improperly backdating stock options.
On Dec. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney granted a motion by Ruehle’s attorneys to grant immunity to ex-Broadcom general counsel David Dull and Broadcom co-founder Henry Samueli, who had indicated they would invoke their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination to avoid testifying, The American Lawyer reported.
After the judge granted immunity, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Stolper phoned Dull’s attorneys. Stolper told Dull’s lawyers that their client could be charged with perjury if he provided prosecutors with the same answers he gave the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding the case, according to an Orange County Register report cited by The American Lawyer.
Dull had not been criminally charged in the case but was named in an SEC complaint, according to The American Lawyer. Dull’s lawyers — James Asperger of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges and Seth Aronson of O’Melveny & Myers — reported the call to the judge. Cormac J. Carney called a hearing in response to the call.
During the hearing, Stolper indicated the purpose of the call was to clarify the law, The American Lawyer said. But Carney suggested the call was an attempt to influence testimony. “I do believe there was government misconduct, but cannot tell from testimony of witnesses if there was an actual threat to Mr. Dull,” the judge said.
Robb Adkins, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the office, told The Orange County Register that Stolper’s phone call was “a bad idea.” He added, “That, in my view, is extremely regrettable.” Adkins told The Register that as result of the phone call the U.S. Attorney’s office will be unable to prosecute Dull.
According to The National Law Journal, Dull was expected to sign a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s office, headed by acting U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona, by the end of this week.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the sequence of events. The motion to grant immunity was not filed in response to AUSA Stolper’s call to Dull’s attorneys. The motion to grant immunity to Dull in exchange for his testimony was granted before Stolper’s call. The story also incorrectly stated that the prosecutor, Stolper, was granted immunity. Main Justice regrets the errors.
Posted in News | 4 Comments »
Forbes magazine last week released its list of the top 10 CEOs who “showed enough greed, hubris and chutzpah” to give confessed Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff “a run for his (stolen) money.”
We’ve added some information that Forbes left off its list — the top federal prosecutors who get to go after these alleged financial fraudsters, even though some of the investigations began before their time.
Winning a conviction in a high-profile financial case adds a notch to a U.S. Attorney’s belt. A prosecutor might even get to step out at a news conference or two, as Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara did on Nov. 5 when announcing insider trading arrests related to the Galleon hedge fund run by billionaire Raj Rajaratnam.
To be sure, not everyone on the Forbes list is accused of an actual crime. With that caveat, we present Forbes’s “Biggest CEO Outrages of 2009″ list:
1. Lloyd Blankfein. The chairman and CEO made $73 million in 2007 and $25 million in 2008, as the economy entered a deep recession. Although his salary is not a legal offense, Forbes deemed it practically criminal.
2. John Thain. The former CEO of Merrill Lynch approved $3.62 billion in bonuses for his executives last December as the company was being taken over by Bank of America and reporting a fourth-quarter loss of $15.3 billion.
3. Raj Rajaratnam. The founder of the hedge fund Galleon Group was charged with insider trading which allegedly helped him earn more than $33 million in illicit profits. He is being prosecuted in Manhattan by Bharara’s office.
4. Byrraju Ramalinga Raju. The founder of the Indian outsourcing company Satyam Computer Services in January confessed to overstating the company’s profits and fabricating its cash balance of more than $1 billion. He hasn’t been charged.
5. Thomas Petters. The former CEO and chairman of Petters Group Worldwide was charged with orchestrating a $3.5 billion pyramid scheme fraud. He is being prosecuted by the office of Minnesota U.S. Attorney B. Todd Jones.
6. Edward M. Liddy. The former CEO of American International Group (AIG) faced criticism this year for high salaries and bonuses in addition to expensive retreats the company funded after receiving a considerable sum as part of the bank bailout of 2008.
7. Danny Pang. The founder of Private Equity Management Group was accused of running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded his investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. Pangdied of an apparent suicide in September at age 42. Had he lived, he would have been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, currently headed by acting U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona.
8. R. Allen Stanford. The Texas financier allegedly sold $7 billion worth of certificates of deposit through his Stanford International Bank and misappropriated most of the money. He is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas, currently headed by interim U.S. Attorney Tim Johnson. UPDATE: Stanford also is being prosecuted by the fraud section of DOJ’s criminal division.
9. David Rubin. The head of CDR Financial Products was indicted in October on charges of conspiracy and fraud related to rigging auctions to help determine which banks would assist governments in raising money. He will be prosecuted by Bharara’s office in Manhattan.
10. Robert Moran. The CEO of Moran Yacht & Ship pleaded guilty to tax fraud to avoid indictment. He also promised to pay back taxes and penalties and cooperate with the Internal Revenue Service. He was prosecuted by the office of R. Alexander Acosta, then-U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
Posted in News | Comments Off
Federal prosecutors are arguing that a prominent Democratic attorney in Los Angeles violated the spirit of the Federal Election Campaign Act when he made donations to John Edwards’s 2004 presidential campaign in his clients’ names, The National Law Journal reports.
Plaintiff attorney Pierce O’Donnell in 2003 donated $26,000 to Edwards’s campaign in the names of 13 other people, the government has alleged.
In June, a California judge dismissed the bulk of charges against O’Donnell. The ruling by U.S. District Judge S. James Otero was a setback for then-U.S. Attorney Tom O’Brien, a Bush appointee who resigned earlier this month to join the Paul Hastings law firm.
While FECA does not specifically address “conduit” or “indirect” contributions, federal prosecutors believe the donations violated the intention of the law, The NLJ reported. The law says: ”No person shall make a contribution in the name of another person or knowingly permit his name to be used to effect such a contribution, and no person shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person.”
The brief filed Monday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit was signed by acting U.S. Attorney George C. Cardona and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christine C. Ewell and Erik M. Silber. The prosecutors wrote, “The question is not whether Congress could have used different words, but whether the wording Congress actually chose embraces the conduct at issue; here, it does.” They added, “There is no functional difference between contributing using a false name and contributing using the name of a straw donor.”
O’Donnell is represented by George J. Terwilliger III, a partner at White & Case.