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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Charges Weighed for Lawyer Who Revealed Witness’s Name

Charges Weighed for Lawyer Who Revealed Witness’s Name
The New York Times by Colin Moynihan and Benjamin Weiser  -  March 5, 2012

A federal district judge in Brooklyn has asked the United States attorney’s office there to review whether to pursue criminal contempt charges against a lawyer who revealed in court papers in 2010 the identity of a businessman who had pleaded guilty in an organized-crime case and cooperated with the government.  After asking whether federal prosecutors would bring charges against the lawyer, the judge, Brian M. Cogan, said in a hearing on Monday, “There is a possibility that if the government declines I may appoint someone” to investigate, apparently referring to a private lawyer.  The judge said last week in a hearing that he would refer the case for prosecution and repeated that on Monday. Because of the nature of the case, the court has referred to the businessman only as John Doe. The lawyer, Frederick M. Oberlander, has been described in court records as Richard Roe.  Judge Cogan said last week that he had not reached a conclusion about whether criminal contempt had occurred. But he said he could not think of anything “more important than letting actual and potential witnesses know that the government will protect them.”  On Monday, a federal prosecutor told Judge Cogan that his office had not yet reached a decision. An office spokesman would not comment after the hearing, nor would Mr. Oberlander or his lawyer, Richard E. Lerner. Michael P. Beys, a lawyer for the businessman, also declined to comment.  Judge Cogan had been appointed to oversee secrecy orders in the case after Mr. Oberlander disclosed, in a lawsuit filed in Manhattan in 2010, John Doe’s actual name and his role as a cooperating witness.  In the lawsuit, which was quickly sealed by a judge, Mr. Oberlander accused the businessman, who was associated with an investment firm, of stealing millions of dollars from investors. Mr. Oberlander also included documentation of the businessman’s earlier guilty plea and his cooperation agreement with the authorities.  It was not possible to learn specifically what had prompted Judge Cogan to hold hearings on whether Mr. Oberlander should be cited for contempt. But in court last week, the judge described the lawyers for John Doe as “movants,” suggesting that they had sought the proceeding. Judge Cogan also said he had assumed that John Doe’s lawyers were “consulting with the government” as well.  The judge also expressed concern last week that Mr. Oberlander and Mr. Lerner might be trying to “undermine” secrecy orders in the case.  The hearings followed an article in The New York Times last month that detailed the unusual legal dispute, in which court records and proceedings in Brooklyn and Manhattan and in a federal appeals court have been placed under seal or otherwise removed from the public record. The Times has not identified John Doe because of safety concerns raised by some parties in the matter.  Mr. Oberlander was quoted in the article as saying that the secrecy shrouding the John Doe case had kept investors from learning about the businessman’s criminal record, which Mr. Oberlander contended should have been disclosed.  But I. Leo Glasser, the judge who had presided over the case that resulted in a guilty plea from John Doe, found that Mr. Oberlander had “knowingly and intentionally flouted” a court order by “unilaterally deciding” to disclose information from the businessman’s sealed case, an appellate order said.


wondering said...

Seems like there's more to this story. I think they had it in for this lawyer.

Anonymous said...

richard e. lerner is a fuckin crooked fuck

Anonymous said...

A crooked businessman's past is kept secret so he can continue to defraud. They can keep his name secret,but they also must prevent him from cheating more innocent people or being in any position of trust. Our corrupt courts working to help the corrupt.

Anonymous said...

As Wilson Elser said in its moving papers, Richard Lerner "mischaracterizes" the law and makes statements that are "not true". They didn't seem to mind much when he made them millions of dollars by doing it for years.
He is a sneaky liar - incapable of telling the truth. He deserves to be disbarred.

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