Showing posts from October, 2009

Fascinating 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair Interview with Marc Dreier

60 Minutes ran a fascinating interview with Marc Dreier this week, which included significant discussion of the forces that led Dreier to commit fraud and the chain of events that led to the unraveling of his scheme. The 60 Minutes interview was done in conjunction with Vanity Fair , which published an article regarding the interview with Dreier in this week's issue. The sun-drenched apartment, perched high in a Midtown Manhattan building looking down on the famed restaurant Le Cirque, is as luxurious as one would expect for space that cost $10.4 million. Lined with floor-to-ceiling glass, the living room features low divans wrapped in rich golden fabric. On the vast outdoor deck, as big as many apartments, the views stretch north and east, all the way across Long Island Sound toward Connecticut. Yet even a casual visitor would notice that something is amiss. Dozens of bare hooks line the white walls; all the paintings are gone. Boxes of paperwork litter the floors. In the kitchen

5th Circuit Allows Waiver of Ban on Evidence from Plea Negotiations

The 5th Circuit has ruled that public policy considerations do not justify barring a prosecutor from eliciting a defendant's waiver of the ban on the admission of statements made during plea bargaining negotiations. The Court found permitting this waiver was a natural extension of the 1995 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Mezzanatto , 513 U.S. 196 (1995), enforcing a waiver with respect to impeachment evidence. United States v. Sylvester , 5th Cir., September 18, 2009: Now presented with a case-in-chief waiver, however, we can find no convincing reason for not extending Mezzanatto’s rationale to this case. Justice Thomas, writing for the Mezzanatto majority, set forth a framework for analyzing plea-statement waiver. He first discerned a “background presumption that legal rights generally, and evidentiary provisions specifically, are subject to waiver by voluntary agreement of the parties.” Thus, without affirmative indication that Congress intended to proscribe waiver of

8th Circuit Decision - Failure to Inform Defendant of Maximum Sentence Spoiled Plea

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a district court's failure to inform a defendant of the maximum sentence he faced when pleading guilty is not harmless error, even where the defendant was apprised of the lighter sentence the court ultimately imposed. According to the Court, harmlessness in this context turns on whether the defendant would have pleaded guilty had he been completely informed, not whether he actually received a sentence within the range of which he was informed. United States v. Gray , 8th Cir., September 21, 2009: The government’s argument fails, however, because the test for harmless error is whether the defendant's knowledge and comprehension of the omitted information would likely have affected his willingness to plead guilty. Gillen, 449 F.3d at 903. Thus, the question is not whether Gray was sentenced within the range of which the court did make him aware; rather, the question is, had Gray known of the full range to which he could be sentenced

Fugitive Attorney Pleads Guilty

An attorney who was the final defendant is a $194 million hedge fund fraud has pleaded guilty in connection with a scheme that defrauded some 250 investors. According to the Department of Justice : In December 2006, defendants Won Lee, John Kim, and his brother, Yung Bae Kim were charged in a thirty-five count Indictment for their participation in a massive investment fraud in the operation of various hedge funds under the umbrella of the KL Group, LLC , initially in California and later in Palm Beach County. According to the Indictment, documents filed with the court, and statements made during the plea hearings, the defendants used quarterly mailings and website postings to misrepresent to investors that the KL Financial Group was a hugely successful family of hedge funds. In fact, however, the KL funds lost millions of dollars, and, in Ponzi scheme fashion, used new investors’ monies to make payments owed to previous investors. From 2000 through 2005, KL received approximately $1