Publications

04.15.21 | Blog Posts

The Man On The Street And The Layperson With Common Sense

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

For many years, purportedly to preserve its renowned sense of collegiality, the Second Circuit heard fewer cases en banc than any other circuit court. On March 2, 2021, however, the Second Circuit issued an en banc opinion that could prove to be a harbinger of a new era featuring more en bancs and potentially less collegiality. In United States v. Scott, the en banc Second Circuit overturned a prior panel decision and held that New York first-degree manslaughter is a categorial crime of violence under the federal Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”), which can trigger significant mandatory minimum sentences. Others have summarized the opinion elsewhere, and the holding itself is not particularly surprising. What is surprising, however, is the unusually harsh language that jumps out at a handful of moments in the majority and dissenting opinions. [...]

Related Lawyers: Brian A. Jacobs, Bronwyn Roantree

04.07.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

Congress Poised to End Use of Acquitted Conduct at Sentencing

New York Law Journal

For years, the defense bar has criticized courts’ ability to sentence defendants based on conduct for which a jury of their peers has acquitted them. As we explain in our latest article, although the Supreme Court has hesitated to review this arguably unconstitutional practice, Congress has taken up the torch with a new bipartisan bill that would ban it. The jury is still “out” on whether the bill will become law, but its introduction is a welcome sign of Congressional interest in preserving the jury’s crucial role as a bulwark of liberty.

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

03.18.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

Civil FBAR Penalty Litigation: No Reprieve for Taxpayers

New York Law Journal

In the dozen years since the UBS Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the government has aggressively pursued taxpayers who maintained undisclosed offshore accounts. While over 56,000 taxpayers have cured their historical non-compliance through Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Programs or Initiatives offered by the IRS, approximately 100 have faced criminal investigation and prosecution, while others were subject to IRS audits, which carry the risk of substantial civil penalties. In this article, I explore recent decisions by the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Bedrosian v. United States and the Fourth Circuit in United States v. Horowitz and conclude that these and other cases reflect judicial antagonism to taxpayers’ attempting to avoid or limit civil penalties.

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

03.08.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

Where’s the Quid? DOJ Tests the Limits of Public Corruption Law

New York Law Journal

Proof of a “quid pro quo” is central to federal public corruption prosecutions. Recent high-profile cases have tended to focus on the “quo” part of the equation – the official act taken by a public official. Two recent federal prosecutions, in Ohio and Illinois, have drawn attention to the “quid” – the thing of value a public official receives in return for a corrupt official act. In this article, we consider what these two prosecutions may say about the outer limits of federal public corruption law.

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

03.08.21 | Blog Posts

Commissioner Rettig on the State of the IRS

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

In October 2018, after a long career representing taxpayers in civil and criminal tax controversies, Charles Rettig was sworn in as the 49th Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Within 18 months of taking the helm, Commissioner Rettig faced a once in a lifetime pandemic that wreaked havoc on the entire country. [...]

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

02.24.21 | Blog Posts

“SPAC-tacular” Growth Means More Enforcement Ahead

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

A once-derided investment vehicle, the SPAC is surging as investors turn the traditional IPO process on its head to streamline the public offering process and leverage a booming stock market. A company’s decision to assume the sometimes substantial undertaking to make an initial public offering (“IPO”) opens the floodgates to a deluge of regulatory obligations and disclosures about the details of its business operations. The payoff, however, can be vast; once the Company hits public markets, it has unparalleled access to capital and a bump in prestige. [...]

Related Lawyers: Robert J. Anello, Anthony Sampson

02.17.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

The Federal Arbitration Act Precludes New York from Exempting Claims from Arbitration

New York Law Journal

The Federal Arbitration Act sets forth a national policy favoring arbitration. Through the enactment of Section 7515 of the NY CPLR, however, New York sought to exempt certain types of claims from arbitration, including claims alleging sexual misconduct under the New York State Human Rights Law. In this article, “The Federal Arbitration Act Precludes New York from Exempting Claims from Arbitration,” we discuss Southern District Judge Lewis J. Liman’s recent decision in Gilbert v. Indeed, Inc., concluding that Section 7515 is preempted by the FAA, and thus cannot be used to exempt from arbitration claims that otherwise would be arbitrable under the FAA.

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

02.10.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

Congress’s Signing Bonus for Gensler: New Powers for His SEC

New York Law Journal

Not every incoming SEC Chair gets a welcome gift from Congress. While Wall Street has greeted Gary Gensler’s nomination with some trepidation, by contrast, as we describe in this article, “Congress’s Signing Bonus for Gensler: New Powers for His SEC,” legislators recently handed the SEC powerful new enforcement tools, in the form of longer statutes of limitations and new statutory disgorgement powers. Although defendants in SEC cases may challenge some applications of these new powers, the new law likely means a tougher road for those under SEC investigation as the Biden Administration takes charge in Washington.

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

01.27.21 | Blog Posts

The Masked Stinger

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

President Joe Biden’s Justice Department is widely expected “to ramp up white-collar crime” prosecutions, after former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department notched an “all-time low in white collar crime enforcement.” But how, exactly, will the Biden DOJ pursue such a goal? Under President Barack Obama, the DOJ garnered headlines (see here, here, and here) by investigating white-collar crimes using tactics—such as undercover officers and sting operations—that are usually reserved for street crime cases. If President Biden’s DOJ follows suit by stepping up the use of such tactics in white-collar cases, counsel and courts may find themselves revisiting the governing law. [...]

Related Lawyers: Brian A. Jacobs, Margaret Vasu

01.21.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

Tax Defendants Reaping The Benefit of Booker

New York Law Journal

In United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), the Supreme Court held that mandatory application of the Sentencing Guidelines was unconstitutional and that judges must consider statutorily mandated factors in deciding an appropriate sentence for each offender. In this article, we analyze recent data from the United States Sentencing Commission demonstrating that judges have become increasingly likely to exercise their discretion to sentence defendants convicted of tax offenses below the applicable Guidelines, but are also more likely to impose some period of incarceration than in the past.  While sentencing advocacy has always been especially important in tax cases, the data reflects the significant impact defense counsel can have on the sentences imposed and the substantial benefits defendants have reaped under Booker

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

01.15.21 | Articles, Books & Journals

When Does Company Counsel Also Represent a Company Founder?

New York Law Journal

When does counsel for a company also represent a senior executive? This important question has come up recently in the government’s prosecution of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes. In this article, we address a dispute between the government and Holmes concerning the admissibility at trial of communications between Holmes and outside company counsel. As we explain, the legal standard makes it difficult for the individual to demonstrate a personal attorney-client relationship with company counsel. 

 

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

12.16.20 | Blog Posts

‘Achoo . . . so sue me!’: Criminal Liability for Spreading a Virus

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

Aside from worrying about being sued, individuals who spread the coronavirus also have to be concerned about being prosecuted. Dozens of Americans have been charged with coronavirus-related crimes since the beginning of the pandemic, ranging from people who have intentionally tried to infect others with Covid-19 to people who simply have disobeyed public health orders. Common criminal charges include making a terroristic threat, spreading a communicable disease, assault and battery, reckless endangerment, harassment, and disorderly conduct. [...]

Related Lawyers: Robert J. Anello, Chelsea L. Scism

12.15.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Obtaining Discovery Relating To a Confidential Private Mediation

New York Law Journal

When parties engage in private mediation, they frequently assume that their mediation-related communications are not discoverable in litigation. In fact, while courts generally cloak court-sponsored mediation with a fair degree of confidentiality and permit discovery concerning the mediation only upon a heightened showing of need, there is conflicting caselaw whether the same rule applies to confidential private mediations. In our latest article, we discuss Southern District Judge Jesse M. Furman’s recent decision in Accent Delight International Ltd. v. Sotheby’s, concluding that the heightened standard of need should be applied to confidential private mediations.

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

12.10.20 | Blog Posts

IRS-CI’s Annual Report And The State Of Enforcement

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On November 16, the IRS Criminal Investigation division issued its annual report for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2020, which touts recent achievements and may foreshadow a rise in IRS enforcement. The report highlighted IRS-CI’s noteworthy achievements last year, including identifying over $2.3 billion in tax fraud, which represents an increase of $500 million (almost 28 percent) from fiscal year 2019. The report further noted that IRS-CI had initiated 1,598 investigations and recommended 945 prosecutions, up slightly from the previous year, when it initiated 1,500 investigations and recommended 942 prosecutions, but not quite returning to 2018 levels of 1,714 investigations and 1,050 recommended prosecutions. report noted that IRS-CI now has 2,030 Special Agents. While that represents a modest (1%) increase over the prior fiscal year, it is still below the 2,100 agents in place in May 2019, when IRS-CI was pushing to expand its ranks. [...]

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

12.10.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Days Seem Numbered for Circuit’s Controversial Insider Trading Decision

New York Law Journal

Days before Thanksgiving, in a notable about-face, the government agreed that the Supreme Court should vacate a Second Circuit panel’s controversial insider trading decision in United States v. Blaszczak, accepting that Blaszczak’s holding that a government regulatory agency’s confidential information can constitute protectible “property” had been undermined by the Supreme Court’s subsequent decision in the George Washington Bridge case. But vacating Blaszczak would also erase the panel’s more controversial holding that the “personal benefit” test for insider trading does not apply to cases brought under the Title 18 fraud statutes, which would have significantly broadened the reach of criminal insider trading laws. In our article, “Days Seem Numbered for Circuit’s Controversial Insider Trading Decision,” we analyze the defendants’ petitions for Supreme Court review in Blazsczak discuss the implications of the government’s change in position. 

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

11.19.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

Anticipating Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s Role in Tax Jurisprudence

New York Law Journal

On October 27, 2020, following a swift yet politically fraught confirmation, Amy Coney Barrett replaced the late Ruth Bader Ginsberg as the ninth sitting justice on the Supreme Court. In her brief tenure on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Justice Barrett wrote unanimous opinions in two civil tax cases. In my latest article, I discuss then-Judge Barrett’s decisions in A.F. Moore & Associates, Inc. v. Maria Pappas and VHC, Inc. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue and conclude that, setting aside questions regarding the timing of Justice Barrett’s appointment and confirmation and concerns as to how she might impact high-profile, politically-charged cases, practitioners can look forward to Justice Barrett’s contributions to the development of tax jurisprudence for many years to come. 

Related Lawyer: Jeremy H. Temkin

11.10.20 | Articles, Books & Journals

The Supreme Court Will Interpret Another White-Collar Criminal Statute

New York Law Journal

Federal law prohibits obtaining information by “access[ing] a computer without authorization or exceed[ing] authorized access.” The meaning of the words “exceed[ing] authorized access” has led to a split in the Circuits which will be taken up by the Supreme Court in the present term. In our latest article, we discuss the split in the Circuits and conclude that the Supreme Court may take the opportunity in United States v. Van Buren to clarify how white-collar criminal statutes should be interpreted.

Related Lawyers: Elkan Abramowitz, Jonathan S. Sack

11.08.20 | Blog Posts

How A Supreme Court Case About The Affordable Care Act Could Change Federal Criminal Law

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

On Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the latest case challenging the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”), once again placing the Court at the center of a dispute affecting the healthcare of millions of people around the country. The Court’s ultimate decision will be important in its own right, but the case also bears scrutiny because it could potentially have unintended but lasting consequences for federal criminal law as well. [...]

Related Lawyers: Brian A. Jacobs, Chelsea L. Scism

10.27.20 | Blog Posts

How DOJ Shows It “Cares” About CARES Act Fraud

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

No good deed goes unpunished. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which endeavors to give struggling small businesses free money, reportedly has been rife with abuse. In a noble rush to put emergency funds in the hands of Americans in need, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) relaxed many federal loan safeguards, giving the unscrupulous the perfect opportunity for fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice already has begun investigating and prosecuting individuals who have attempted to steal CARES Act funds and has relied on tips from major financial institutions to do so. As new evidence comes to light in the coming months, we can expect DOJ to continue escalating its enforcement efforts. [...]

Related Lawyers: Robert J. Anello, Chelsea L. Scism

10.22.20 | Blog Posts

Jury Trials in the Time of Covid

The Insider: White Collar Defense and Securities Enforcement

The mail arrived the other day and there it was, the blue, slightly larger than letter-size envelope with the words “JURY SUMMONS ENCLOSED” blazoned on the front. I was being called for jury duty at federal district court just as the upturn in the curve indicated an increase in Covid-19 cases. But, unlike in the past, where the envelope’s contents provided little guidance as to what the process of jury selection would entail, it now included a personal letter from the Chief Judge describing the steps the court is taking to protect jurors from Covid. It also contained a questionnaire aimed at determining whether I might be infected with Covid or might present a danger of infecting others – questions that now are all too familiar but are new to the process of jury service. [...]

Related Lawyer: Catherine M. Foti


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