Examples of Our White Collar & Regulatory Defense Work
- We were part of the defense team for a former Major League Baseball player who was arraigned in August 2010 on charges that he lied in his testimony to Congress about performance-enhancing-drug allegations. He was accused of perjury, obstruction of Congress and making false statements. On June 18, 2012, following a nine-week trial, a federal jury acquitted our client on all counts. The verdict resulted in news stories across the nation in all major news publications.
- We successfully defended a former general counsel of a software company in two actions brought by the federal government related to alleged stock option backdating violations. In October 2008, a jury acquitted our client on two felony counts of mail fraud following a two-week criminal trial in federal court in San Francisco in a case prosecuted by the Department of Justice. The SEC had also filed a civil enforcement action against our client. However, following the victory in the criminal case and the completion of discovery in the civil case, the SEC voluntarily dismissed its case with prejudice in March 2009. Our client is the only executive in the United States to successfully defend either a criminal prosecution brought by the DOJ or a civil enforcement action brought by the SEC related to alleged stock option backdating.
- In the last several years, we have represented numerous companies in government investigations related to stock option backdating including representing the founder and CEO of a major high-tech company in an investigation by the SEC and a foreign securities regulator involving allegations of options backdating.
- We achieved a major jury trial victory in a federal fraud prosecution against a former partner at Arthur Andersen LLP. Our client was charged in October 2004 by the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego with securities fraud, wire fraud and bank fraud in connection with the financial reporting of Peregrine Systems, Inc., a San Diego-based software provider. At the time of the indictment, the U.S. Attorney described the case as "the largest fraud in the history of the Southern District of California." After two lengthy trials in 2007 and 2008, consecutive juries announced they were deadlocked with votes favoring acquittal of our client on all counts.
Cooley achieved a complete victory on behalf of a former managing director at an international insurance brokerage. Our client was one of the targets of a sweeping investigation of the insurance industry by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. In 2005, our client was indicted on 35 counts of larceny, 1 count of scheme to defraud, and 1 count for a Donnelly Act violation (New York's antitrust statute), all stemming from allegations of bid-rigging in the placement of excess casualty insurance. Following a 10-month long bench trial, Judge James Yates issued a verdict of not guilty on all counts but the Donnelly Act, a 100+ year old statute that is very rarely used for criminal prosecutions. In 2010, Judge Yates vacated the conviction on the Donnelly Act count due the prosecution's failure to produce exculpatory evidence. The case came to a close in January 2011 when the New York Attorney General announced that it would not retry the Donnelly Act count and dismissed the indictment against our client, clearing him of all charges.
- We achieved a major victory by obtaining three acquittals on four counts of federal securities fraud charges brought by the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, and then obtaining a Second Circuit reversal of a conviction on the one remaining count, resulting in complete exoneration of our client, a former member of the management committee of Van Der Moolen Specialists USA and a veteran specialist on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Our client was the first specialist to go to trial following a high-profile sweep of the NYSE floor resulting in more than ten similar indictments, alleging that specialists had been opportunistically trading for the own accounts when they should have been trading for their customers. The trial and appeal involved novel issues of securities law, which were ultimately resolved in the defendant's favor, and have been viewed as a rare landslide victory for the defense in the Southern District of New York.
- We defended a U.S. national who was a senior advisor to the Republic of Kazakhstan since its inception. Our client had been under indictment for more than seven years facing what some have described as the most significant Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) prosecution in the history of that statute. Our client, who brokered major oil deals between the Republic of Kazakhstan and several U.S.-based multinational oil conglomerates, was accused of arranging to have $80 million in payments associated with those deals funneled to secret Swiss bank accounts controlled by senior Kazakh officials – payments the Department of Justice described as blatant bribes. The case raised issues of corruption at the delicate intersection between corporate oil interests and rising sovereign nations. Aspects of the case were depicted in the film Syriana. In late 2010, the case came to a close when our client, who was previously facing dozens of years of imprisonment under FCPA, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge under the tax code for failing to check one of the boxes on his tax form. Moreover, as part of the plea agreement, the government agreed that it would not seek jail time.
- We represent a partner of the law firm Mayer Brown, who was charged with federal securities fraud in a highly publicized indictment in the Southern District of New York in December 2007 relating to the sale of Mayer Brown's client, Refco Group Limited, one of the largest commodities brokers in the world. The SEC has also charged our client in a companion civil case.
- We represented a publicly traded retail food chain in investigations by the SEC and the United States Attorney's Office of the Northern District of New York involving allegations of fraudulent accounting relating to promotional allowances. In 2008, the company reached a favorable settlement with the SEC in which it did not have to pay any fine. The United States Attorney did not bring charges against the company, although two former executives are being prosecuted.
- We served as lead counsel for the largest roofing company in Southern California and one of its co-owners in a major workers' compensation fraud investigation by the District Attorney's Office. The two-year investigation and prosecution alleged that several company executives participated in a scheme to manipulate employees' experience levels in order to obtain lower premiums. The case was resolved with a no contest plea by each owner that was subsequently reduced to a misdemeanor, the payment of restitution by the owners and no incarceration for any of the 11 defendants.
- We represented numerous audit committees involved in special investigations related to accounting fraud and revenue recognition issues. We have also successfully counseled companies through delisting proceedings with the Department of Enforcement (NASD), as well as civil and criminal investigations conducted by the SEC and Justice Department.
- We represented a defendant in a white-collar criminal case in which federal prosecutors appealed a sentence of six months' imprisonment. Before the U.S. Supreme Court, we obtained a summary grant of certiorari, vacatur of the First Circuit's judgment and remand for reconsideration of the sentence. On remand to the First Circuit, our team successfully argued on Sixth Amendment grounds that our client should be resentenced; and on remand to the District Court, the team secured a favorable sentence of six months' time served, in contrast to the five-year sentence sought by the prosecutors.
- We represented a senior executive of a major Japanese corporation who was a target of a federal grand jury investigation into criminal price-fixing activities. Because of our representation and our presentation to senior DOJ officials, the DOJ reversed its initial decision to seek an indictment against the executive.