Roscoe Howard Jr., the District’s U.S. Attorney from 2001 to 2004, has joined Andrews Kurth’s Washington office, as a partner in the the corporate compliance, investigations and defense practice group, the firm announced.
Howard (Brown, UVa) was most recently a partner in Troutman Sanders’ Washington office, where he specialized in white-collar criminal defense. He was a federal prosecutor in Washington and Virginia before taking the top job in the country’s largest U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In addition to his work at the Justice Department, Howard was an associate independent counsel in the investigations of former Secretary of Agriculture, A. Michael Espy, and former Secretary of H.U.D., Samuel Pierce.
Howard was rated by Washingtonian Magazine as one of Washington’s “Top Lawyers” in 2009.
The firm also added Daniel Seikaly, former criminal chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. Seikaly, who also came over from Troutman, joined the firm’s corporate compliance, investigations and defense practice group as counsel. Earlier in his career, he was an Assistant Inspector General for Investigations at the CIA and an Associate Deputy Attorney General at the Justice Department.
Seikaly and Howard will be the firm’s D.C. presence in white-collar criminal matters, corporate compliance, ethics issues, internal investigations and complex civil litigation.
“Few attorneys in the country can match the white-collar and complex civil litigation experience and expertise possessed by Roscoe and Dan,” said Dallas-based partner Spencer Barasch, head of the firm’s CCID practice, in statement.
The firm also announced that Meena Sinfelt joined the D.C. office as an associate.
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The U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama told members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission that she is concerned about light sentences that the district’s judges are handing down in white-collar cases, The Birmingham News reported.
Joyce Vance said, according to The News, that the district’s judges usually use their discretion in sentencing wisely, but she said that lighter sentences in white-collar cases are “especially troubling.”
Vance, who was sworn in to the job Aug. 27, appeared last Friday in Austin, Texas, at a regional public hearing of the Sentencing Commission. The panel is holding a series of hearings to mark the 25th anniversary of the Sentencing Reform Act, which created the guidelines judges use in crafting sentences. “We have noticed an increasing number of below-guidelines sentences in white-collar cases,” Vance told the commission, according to the Birmingham newspaper.
She added: “A potential white-collar thief could reasonably conclude that fraudulent conduct in the Northern District of Alabama is actually cost-effective.” She said the 2005 Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Booker — which made sentencing guidelines recommended, but not compulsory — might be having unintentional effects by establishing contradictory sentences, according to the newspaper.
Vance, in an interview with The News, cited a order by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals directing the district court for the Northern District of Alabama to re-sentence former HealthSouth executive Ken Livesay in an accounting fraud case. U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre sentenced Livesay to five years’ probation in 2008 after the circuit court overturned two previous sentences of five years’ probation, The News said.
The district judge gave Livesay leeway because of time the former executive served during his original probation sentence, which he received in 2004, according to the newspaper.
“I believe Booker has made sentencing less uniform and thus less predictable for prosecutors and defendants alike,” Vance said in her testimony to the Sentencing Commission, according to The News.
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An FBI report this month found that mortgage fraud is getting worse. And the Obama administration has made combating mortgage fraud a top priority. But the House Appropriations Committee wants the bureau to spend less time on mortgage fraud and more investigating other white-collar crimes.
The House report to the Justice Department’s fiscal year 2010 funding bill says:
“The committee is concerned that the FBI budget proposal focuses too exclusively on mortgage at the expense of other high priority financial fraud issues,” the House report said.
There were 63,713 reports by lenders of suspected mortgage fraud in fiscal year 2008, an increase of 36 percent over the previous year, according to the FBI report. Financial institutions estimated they lost at least $1.4 billion to mortgage fraud in fiscal 2008, the report said. This is an 83 percent increase in estimated losses over fiscal year 2007.
The House last month approved an increase of $25.5 million in the FBI budget to help fight white collar crime. The House Appropriations Committee report that accompanied the legislation directed the FBI to use those funds to not only probe mortgage fraud, but also investigate fraud or abuse in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, market manipulation, self-dealing and accounting. The DOJ budget legislation passed the House prior to the release of the FBI report.
The Senate Appropriations Committee report language for the FBI supports the bureau’s efforts to combat mortgage fraud, while addressing concerns expressed by the House:
The sub-prime mortgage crisis threatens the Nation’s economic security. Suspicious Activity Reports filed by various financial institutions increased almost 200 percent within the last 3 years alone, and show no signs of decreasing. This increase in mortgage fraud activity is greatly straining the FBI’s white-collar crime investigative capabilities. The Committee fully supports the requested $25,491,000 increase to hire 50 new agents to augment the current positions conducting mortgage fraud investigations.
The Senate version of the FBI budget was reported out of committee last month, but the full Senate has yet to vote on the legislation.
The House and Senate must reconcile their versions of the legislation before it can come up for final votes.
In May, President Obama signed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, which authorized a major increase infunding for white collar fraud enforcement, including mortgage fraud. But it’s up to the appropriations committees to find the money for the programs.
The FBI did not respond to repeated requests for comment regarding the House report. FBI Criminal Investigative Division Assistant Director Kevin Perkins said in a statement last week the bureau is committed to combating mortgage fraud.
“Mortgage fraud hurts borrowers, financial institutions, and legitimate homeowners,” Perkins said. “The FBI, in conjunction with our law enforcement, regulatory, and industry partners, continues to diligently pursue perpetrators of mortgage fraud schemes.”
This post has been corrected from an earlier version.
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Marc Dreier — the other Bernie Madoff – who pleaded guilty to defrauding hedge funds of more than $400 million, thinks his sins warrant a prison term of as little as 10 years. Prosecutors are asking for 145-year sentence. Bloomberg has the story on the sentencing memos filed today in federal court in Manhattan.
The disgraced lawyer called his crimes “inexcusable” in a letter attached to the memo, but his lawyer asked U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff to give Dreier a break.
“In seeking some measure of leniency we appeal not to sympathy but to reason,” defense attorney Gerald Shargel wrote in his legal brief. “As colossal frauds capture national headlines, sentences for white-collar offenders must not become disproportionately long.”
If Rakoff doesn’t sentence Dreier to 145 years, he should impose a sentence that keeps Dreier socked away for the rest of his life, the government argued in its filing.
“This defendant, an officer of the court, engaged in a more than $740 million series of frauds over a seven-year period largely to finance a personal life of extraordinary lavishness,” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Streeter.
Dreier used investors’ money to prop up his money-losing, 250- attorney law firm, Dreier LLP. He paid off some of the victims of the scam, but he also spoiled himself with toys, like a 121-foot yacht, vacation homes in the Hamptons, and a $39 million art collection.
Last week, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for orchestrating a decades-long Ponzi scheme that cheated investors out of billions of dollars.