Recent weeks have seen a few significant white collar issues in the Pacific Northwest and nationally.
Perhaps none has attracted more national attention than the charges against an accused hacker who allegedly compromised the personal and financial data of more than 100 million Capital One customers. The defendant is also suspected of hacking data held by dozens of other companies. She has been detained pending trial. Wired has a great write up on the case. We may explore “cryptojacking”—using the processing power of computers one doesn’t own to mine cryptocurrency, as the defendant here is alleged to have done in a few instances—in a future post.
After 18 years, there have finally been criminal charges related to the tragic murder of a federal prosecutor here in Seattle. We’ve discussed the murder before, when former Deputy Attorney General held a press conference on the subject. Unfortunately, the new charges are not for the murder, but for a witness’s allegedly false statements before a grand jury. One can only hope that these actions represent meaningful progress on seeking justice for a profound tragedy and an assault on the rule of law itself.
In Portland a few weeks back, almost $3 million from Portland Public Schools ended up in a fraudulent bank account. The name on the account apparently resembled the name of a legitimate contractor. Details on how this came about and whether there will be any criminal charges aren’t yet known yet.
Two weeks ago, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a trial court’s decision to admit a witness’s prior civil deposition testimony of a witness who has subsequently invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination against defendants in a criminal trial without violating the defendants’ Confrontation Clause right to confront the witnesses against them. We’ve discussed the intersection of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and civil deposition testimony before, but never looked at this issue. The court didn’t fully grapple with the defendants’ arguments because it concluded that any error in admitting the deposition testimony was harmless in any event. But both the majority opinion and the concurrence—urging a reexamination of the Ninth Circuit’s Confrontation Clause jurisprudence—are well worth reading and may also inspire a future substantive post.
In news from outside the region, I was fascinated by this essay reflecting on a potential future prosecution of former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. We’ve frequently reminded readers that lying to federal agents is a mistake that can land you behind bars. Prosecutors can, and frequently do, prosecute knowing false statements made by witnesses. But there’s a difference between “can” and “should.” And here, there are powerful reasons to fear that prosecuting McCabe would be perceived as politically motivated and damage the Department of Justice’s well-deserved reputation for integrity.