Thursday, March 20, 2014

Manhattan District Attorney Keeps Identities of Dewey & LeBoeuf Defendants Sealed

Seven persons associated with the failed law firm of Dewey and Leboeuf have pleaded guilty to charges relating to misstating financial information as the troubled firm approached failure.  In an unusual action the New York County District Attorney has not sought to unseal the charging and plea documents.
In most cases prosecutors move quickly to unseal documents following the arrest of an individual.  In addition cases not unsealed after arrest are almost always unsealed after the defendant has entered a guilty plea.  In very few cases, such as those with ongoing undercover investigations or cooperating witnesses who may be endangered, does the government seek to keep the matter confidential.  In a white collar criminal investigation such as the one involving Dewey continued sealing of documents is extremely rare.
The District Attorney has said that the reason for the continued sealing will become apparent as more information is disclosed.  News organizations have identified what they believe to be some of the cases involving persons associated with Dewey from New York State's automated court system.  The New York Times and possibly other news outlets have moved for the unsealing of the case records believed to involve Dewey.  The District Attorney said that the reason for the sealing will be evident in the Office's response.
It is unlikely that potential cooperators in the Dewey case would be endangered by unsealing their cases.  However, they could be subject to unwanted contact.  Moreover, there is the possibility that one or more of these persons received very attractive pea offers from the state for their cooperation.  It is possible that the District Attorney wishes to control the timing of the disclosure of these pea agreements.

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