Publications

03.24.20 | Blog Posts

State and Federal Law Enforcement Officials Act Quickly to Combat COVID-19-Related Fraud

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In just a few weeks COVID-19 has stopped most businesses in the United States in their tracks. The business of fraud, however, respects no boundaries and thrives in times of crisis. Understanding this to be the case, both federal and state law enforcement already have stepped up their responses to such schemes. [...]

Related Lawyer: Catherine M. Foti

03.22.20 | Blog Posts

COVID-19, Criminal Enforcement, and the Imperiled Fate of the Statute of Limitations

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated public and private life with alarming speed – with forced social distancing, widespread layoffs, stock market turmoil, and the nightmare scenario of hospitals being overrun – so too has it had a massive and tumultuous effect on the criminal justice system. Indeed, just as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and its effects, so are those who have the extreme misfortune (whether through their own actions or otherwise) of finding themselves in the criminal justice system as the virus races through all corners of America, including its jails, prisons, and potentially its courthouses as well. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert M. Radick

03.19.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Immigration Consequences for Convictions for Making False Statements

New York Law Journal

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court held that competent criminal defense lawyers must advise their clients of the immigration consequences of pleading guilty in order to provide “reasonable professional assistance.” Two years later, in Kawashima v. Holder, the Supreme Court held that offenses relating to the preparation and filing of false tax returns constitute aggravated felonies that can serve as a predicate for deportation. In this article, I analyze recent decisions by several Circuit Courts of Appeals applying Kawashima’s reasoning not just to defendants convicted of making false statements on tax returns, but to other white-collar offenders as well, and question whether immigration considerations will make it more difficult to achieve pretrial dispositions in false statement cases.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

03.11.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

A Good Sentencing Precedent is Hard to Find

Federal Sentencing Reporter

In the February 2020 issue of the Federal Sentencing Reporter, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 138-144, Morvillo Abramowitz partner Brian A. Jacobs expands upon a prior column he wrote (available here) and discusses in depth the role sentencing precedent has played in recent federal sentencing proceedings, with a particular focus on cases involving gambling addictions and college admissions and testing fraud. Notwithstanding the key role sentencing precedent can play, courts and parties still face significant challenges in finding applicable sentencing precedents, and the article ultimately explores ways in which the body of sentencing law could be made more readily available to parties and courts alike.

Related Lawyer: Brian A. Jacobs

03.03.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

The Importance of “Particulars” in Criminal Fraud Cases

New York Law Journal

Criminal fraud charges are often described very broadly, without identifying the specific misstatements central to the case. A bill of particulars is an important tool to help prepare a defense and minimize surprise at trial. In this article, we discuss the standard for granting a bill of particulars, and analyze a recent decision which ordered particulars in the high-profile prosecution growing out of the Theranos blood-testing scandal. We hope you find the article of interest. 

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

02.19.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

ICE Confronts the Privilege Against Courthouse Civil Arrests

New York Law Journal

More than 500 years ago, English courts developed a common law privilege, which was incorporated into American law in the early years of the republic, protecting against civil arrests of parties and witnesses on courthouse premises and when traveling to or from court. Recently, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) has taken action contrary to this privilege by engaging in courthouse civil arrests of undocumented and other aliens. The State of New York and Kings County District Attorney have brought suit to stop this practice. In this article, we analyze Southern District Judge Jed S. Rakoff’s recent decision denying ICE’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit and concluding that although ICE enjoys broad discretion in enforcing the nation’s immigration laws, its discretion is not unlimited, with one powerful such limit potentially being the common law privilege against courthouse civil arrests.

Related Lawyers: Edward M. Spiro, Christopher B. Harwood

02.19.20 | Blog Posts

IRS Operational Alliance with Foreign Authorities Bodes Ill for Offshore Tax Evaders

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

For more than a decade the Internal Revenue Service has devoted substantial resources to pursuing individuals who use offshore vehicles to cheat on their U.S. tax obligations, as well as banks and professionals that facilitate their misconduct. As the IRS has struggled to tackle the challenges presented by foreign bank secrecy, the introduction of virtual currencies and the increasingly global nature of the economy have complicated its enforcement efforts. [...]

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

02.14.20 | Blog Posts

Missing Golden Opportunity: Trump's Tweeting Thumbs Upset Scale of Justice

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On Monday the career prosecutors who handled the trial of the president’s friend and former campaign advisor, Roger Stone, recommended that the court sentence Stone, convicted in November of obstructing Congress and witness tampering, to 87 – 108 months in federal prison, the sentence called for by the federal sentencing guidelines. Less than twenty-four hours later, at 1:48 a.m., President Trump weighed in with a tweet about the recommendation: “This is a horrible and very unfair situation. The real crimes were on the other side, as nothing happens to them. Cannot allow this miscarriage of justice!” Putting aside, for a moment, the fact that the party on the “other side” in Mr. Stone’s case is none other than our own United States of America, with this tweet, the president attempted to put both thumbs on the scale in the criminal prosecution of his friend. What he missed unfortunately was the opportunity to focus legislators properly on the sometimes unduly harsh results of the sentencing guidelines in white collar cases. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

02.13.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Attorney Proffers: Practical Considerations and Some Law Too

New York Law Journal

One of the key tools that white-collar attorneys regularly use to engage with prosecutors – the attorney proffer – often proceeds without any express agreement regarding what ground rules apply. In this article, we discuss the law around attorney proffers, highlight special considerations for corporate clients, and conclude that ample support exists for the longstanding custom and practice of using a careful attorney proffer as a means for necessary “frank discussion between defense counsel and prosecutor” without undue risk to either side.

Related Lawyers: Richard F. Albert, Robert J. Anello

02.05.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

When Is a Promise Enough? Contractual Duties and Insider Trading

Business Crimes Bulletin

In 2017, the SEC brought an insider trading action against an individual named Todd Alpert in the Southern District of New York for breaching a duty by misappropriating information used to trade securities. The case raised an interesting issue: What kind of duty did Alpert breach? Insider trading narratives have traditionally turned on breaches of fiduciary duties – but was a fiduciary duty required? In this article, I discuss the impact of Alpert, highlight the Second Circuit cases grappling with whether a simple contract is sufficient to create a duty to refrain from insider trading, and conclude that absent new legislation we will have to look to forthcoming decisions for guidance on what kind of promises are sufficient to create duties under the Exchange Act.

Related Lawyer: Telemachus P. Kasulis

01.21.20 | Blog Posts

Title Fight: Blaszczak (18) v. Dirks (15)

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

The day before New Year’s Eve, the Second Circuit issued a split decision in United States v. Blaszczak, ---F.3d ----, 2019 WL 7289753 (2d Cir. Dec. 30, 2019), holding, among other things, that the “personal benefit” test the Supreme Court announced in Dirks v. SEC, 463 U.S. 646 (1983) for insider trading cases charged under Title 15 does not apply to insider trading cases charged under the Title 18.* Much can and will be written about Blaszczak. This post, however, engages in a close reading of one important sentence in Blaszczak that purports to describe and to quote from Dirks, and assesses whether Dirks actually says what the Second Circuit suggests. To the extent Blaszczak misconstrues Dirks—a binding precedent—there is reason to question whether Blaszczak will withstand further scrutiny, or be followed by other courts. [...]

Related Lawyer: Brian A. Jacobs

01.16.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Two Years Later: Have Defendants Benefited from 'Marinello'?

New York Law Journal

The Supreme Court’s March 2018 decision in Marinello v. United States was widely seen as a potentially significant limitation on the government’s ability to prosecute endeavors to obstruct the Internal Revenue Service under 26 U.S.C. § 7212(a). In this article, I analyze the extent to which defendants have – and have not – obtained relief under Marinello and conclude that, while the decision has been of limited value to defendants challenging convictions in cases tried before Marinello, its biggest impact may be the government’s reluctance to test § 7212(a)’s outer limits in charging decisions going forward.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

01.08.20 | Blog Posts

Blindfold Removed from Justice in State Criminal Cases in 2020

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

2020 heralds significant and welcome changes in state criminal practice in New York. On April 1, 2019, New York State legislators passed sweeping criminal justice reform legislation altering the landscape for defendants accused of a crime in New York. Of the reforms which went into effect in the new year, the most significant for the white-collar practitioner are changes to the discovery requirements compelling the government to share information with an accused well in advance of trial. Lessening restrictions imposed on suspects waiting for trial, also will have an impact on defendants charged with non-violent white-collar crimes. [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

01.06.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Challenge to SEC’s Disgorgement Authority Reaches Supreme Court

Business Crimes Bulletin

Since the 1970s, disgorgement of ill-gotten gains has been a mainstay of the SEC’s enforcement program. Although no statute expressly authorizes the SEC to obtain disgorgement in civil enforcement actions, courts routinely award disgorgement to the SEC as a component of authorized “equitable” remedies. The Supreme Court’s 2017 decision in Kokesh v. SEC, however, characterized SEC disgorgement as a “penalty” rather than an equitable remedy, casting doubt on the SEC’s disgorgement authority in civil enforcement actions. In this article, we discuss the potential implications of the Supreme Court’s recent grant of certiorari in Liu v. Securities and Exchange Commission, a case that will clarify whether disgorgement remains available to the SEC in civil actions to enforce federal securities laws. 

Related Lawyers: Jodi Misher Peikin, Jacob W. Mermelstein

01.03.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

A Bridge Too Far? Federalism and the ‘Bridgegate’ Prosecution

New York Law Journal

In white-collar criminal law, principles of federalism have influenced the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the mail and wire fraud statutes, particularly in federal prosecutions of state and local officials. In this article, we discuss an appeal now before the Supreme Court arising from the politically-motivated closure of traffic lanes in 2013 on the George Washington Bridge. The arguments of both sides touch on the federalism concerns raised in earlier Supreme Court decisions. We hope you find the article of interest. 

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

12.17.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Personal Jurisdiction Requirements In FLSA Collective Actions

New York Law Journal

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides a mechanism for employees to join together and pursue a nationwide collective action against their employer. Southern District Magistrate Judge Barbara Moses’ recent decision in Pettanato v. Beacon Health Options addressed an unsettled jurisdictional issue in connection with such actions: If the court lacks general personal jurisdiction over the employer, does each individual employee have to establish that the court has specific personal jurisdiction with respect to his or her claim? Judge Moses concluded that they do. In this article, we analyze Judge Moses’ decision, which is a reminder of the rigor with which courts enforce personal jurisdiction requirements.

Related Lawyers: Edward M. Spiro, Christopher B. Harwood

12.12.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Supreme Court Asked to Assess Per Se Rule in Criminal Antitrust

New York Law Journal

Practitioners have observed a tension between criminal enforcement of the broadly written terms of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and the modern Supreme Court’s notions of statutory interpretation and due process. In this article, we analyze a recent certiorari petition filed in Sanchez et al. v. United States, which asks whether the operation of the per se rule in criminal antitrust cases violates the constitutional prohibition against instructing juries that certain facts presumptively establish an element of a crime. If the Court grants certiorari, Sanchez could provide an interesting test of the direction of the current Court’s criminal law jurisprudence and of its willingness to reconsider longstanding precedent.

Related Lawyers: Richard F. Albert, Robert J. Anello

11.26.19 | Blog Posts

Intimidation or Free Speech: Are Trump’s Tweets Witness Tampering?

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

President Trump’s use of Twitter to shape the narrative is notorious. True to form, he was tweeting fast and furious during the impeachment hearings. Negative testimony about the president’s interactions with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky repeatedly incited his aggressive retorts, prompting speculation about whether his outbursts may be viewed as witness intimidation. Citing the First Amendment, Trump claims he is free to say what he pleases, including name-calling and denigrating witnesses. But is it criminal witness intimidation? [...]

Related Lawyer: Robert J. Anello

11.21.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

Materiality and Admissibility of Evidence in Criminal Securities Fraud Cases

New York Law Journal

Materiality is often a critical issue in securities fraud prosecutions. In this article, we discuss a series of three important Second Circuit decisions that explored the admissibility of evidence offered by the government to prove, and by the defense to disprove, materiality in the context of securities trading. We hope you find the article of interest. 

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

11.14.19 | Articles, Books & Journals

John Doe Summonses: Procedural Hurdles with Limited Review

New York Law Journal

John Doe summonses have long been a powerful tool in the IRS’s arsenal to combat tax fraud schemes. Such summonses enable the IRS to seek data on a class of otherwise unidentified persons where it can articulate a reasonable basis to believe that individuals within that class have failed to comply with their tax obligations. In this article, I analyze recent decisions highlighting the heavy burden facing a party challenging a John Doe summons and discuss the potential impact of Congress’s inclusion of an additional limitation on the issuance of John Doe Summonses in the Taxpayer First Act. 

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin


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