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After Months of Testimony, Dewey & LeBoeuf Trial Comes to End
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The months-long trial involving former executives at Dewey & LeBoeuf is coming to a close.

Summary: The months-long trial involving former executives at Dewey & LeBoeuf is coming to a close.

A trial that has captivated the entire world is almost over.

  
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According to American Lawyer, defense attorneys for Steven Davis and Stephen DiCarmine, the former chairman and former executive director, respectively, of the firm, gave their closing statements on Tuesday. The jury appeared to be enthralled as the attorneys spoke.

Elkan Abramowitz, Davis’ attorney said, “There is not one shred of evidence that Mr. Davis acted in anything other than good faith. He never had any intent to defraud anyone.” During his closing arguments, which, according to the New York Times, lasted three hours, he stated that the case against his client was “fantasy fraud.”

Abramowitz

Abramowitz

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Davis, DiCarmine, and former chief financial officer Joel Sanders have been accused of deceptive practices that misconstrued the financial state of the law firm to lenders and investors prior to its collapse in 2012. Since May, when the trial began, the state has called over 40 witnesses. Defense attorneys, however, rested their case without calling one witness.

Read about the defense’s decision here.



Abramowitz began by reminding the jury that, during voir dire, he asked them to promise to consider the evidence against Davis fairly. Abramowitz said, “I believe that you will agree that I kept my promise to you, and I am confident that you will keep your promise to me and vote not guilty.”

According to the defense team, the firm’s 2012 bankruptcy was caused by the exodus of top partners. Davis had tried to keep these partners satisfied over the years with substantial guarantees, even if the firm did not meet its goals.

After a group banks and several insurance companies found out about the partners’ moves, they sold their shares of firm debt. The group banks had provided an $100 million line of credit, and insurance companies had participated in a $150 million private placement.

These lenders are the supposed victims in the criminal case. The three former executives are accused of changing the firms’ accounting records, falsely inflating its bottom line so that it could borrow money.

Abramowitz said, “The decision of the banks and the investors to pull out had absolutely nothing to do with the comparatively small accounting adjustments, which were the focus of the prosecution’s case.”

The prosecution rested at the end of August.

Abramowitz pointed to what he called a lack of evidence that linked Davis to the alleged conspiracy to mislead the investors. Each witness the prosecution called said that they either never communicated with Davis or merely interacted with him in passing, so they could not have conspired with him to commit fraud. Reuters added that Frank Canellas, the prosecution’s star witness, even stated that he did not recall discussing any false accounting changes with Davis.

Abramowitz explained, ”Calling or suggesting that Mr. Davis is the kingpin of a criminal syndicate does not make him guilty,” Abramowitz said. He added that Davis “wasn’t communicating to this vast organization with winks and nods.”

Abramowitz then went through 15 points that he said were “reasons to doubt” the prosecution. Additionally, Abramowitz noted that the prosecution never put an accounting expert on the stand. “The truth of the matter is that none of us in this courtroom really know whether these adjustments were proper,” Abramowitz remarked.

Read about Canellas’ testimony here.

Abramowitz also reminded the jury that testimony from cooperating witnesses demonstrated that they did not know certain accounting adjustments were illegal. At least one did state that the adjustments were wrong. Abramowitz posited, “How could they have conspired with Mr. Davis to do anything wrong if they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong?”

Abramowitz frequently called the former partners of the firm greedy and jealous. He attempted to demonstrate that keeping the partners happy at the firm was difficult but necessary for Davis as he struggled to keep the firm alive.

Abramowitz commented, “Mr. Davis’ role was to keep the quarrelsome partners together as [a] team,” Abramowitz said. Davis’ solution was to “pay them and pay them well so they would not be tempted by offers at competing firms.”

Abramowitz concluded his statements Tuesday afternoon. Austin Campriello of Bryan Cave, DiCarmine’s attorney, followed.

Campriello

Campriello

Campriello argued that the March 2012 departure of a substantial corporate insurance group, headed by Michael Groll, John Schwolsky, and Alexander Dye, was what permanently damaged the firm. “Dye, Schwolsky and Groll ripped the heart out of the law firm,” Campriello argued.

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After those three left, “the headhunter vultures intensified their feeding frenzy,” Campriello stated. Once they departed, “the flood gates opened” and a number of partner departures occurred.

The financial crisis, as well as the publicity surrounding the investigation of the firm “torpedoed” merger talks with Greenberg Traurig, Campriello added, which “put the stake in the heart of Dewey & LeBoeuf.”

Campriello brought up flattering testimony that witnesses provided about DiCarmine. A former human resources director said he was “awesome.”

Campriello referred to a list of witnesses that was projected onto a screen for the jury’s viewing. He noted how each of them never interacted with DiCarmine or never said anything incriminating about him. Associate Anne Redcross marked out names with a red sharpie as Campriello addressed the jury.

Redcross

Redcross

Campriello will finalize his closing arguments on Wednesday. Next, Andrew Frisch, Sanders’ attorney, will close. By the end of next week, the prosecution should give its closing arguments.

Source: American Lawyer

Photo credit: Reuters, Bloomberg (Abramowitz), Bryan Cave (Campriello, Redcross)



 

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