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.


Continue Reading Data Breaches and More False-Statements Charges

This last week saw the passing of two titans of American law: John Paul Stevens and Robert Morgenthau. Both led remarkable lives and careers.

Justice Stevens died last Tuesday at age 99. Over more than 30 years on the U.S. Supreme Court, he authored critical majority and dissenting opinions on issues central to white collar criminal enforcement—indeed to criminal law generally. To start, he authored several of the decisions that have transformed criminal sentencing. One of these was Apprendi v. New Jersey, which held that any fact (other than a prior criminal conviction) that increases a defendant’s punishment beyond the otherwise applicable statutory maximum had to be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Another, United States v. Booker—a fractured opinion in which Stevens wrote in part for the majority and partially in dissent—the Court invalidated a federal statute that generally required judges to sentence defendants within the ranges set by the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Stevens also dissented from the Supreme Court’s 1987 decision that the federal mail and wire fraud statutes required the government to prove that defendants had deprived their victims of tangible property, including money. It was not enough, the majority said, for a victim to have been fraudulently deprived of “honest services.” Justice Stevens disagreed. He wrote that the Court’s decision undermined Congress’s efforts to broadly proscribe fraudulent schemes. Congress ultimately vindicated Stevens’s view by enacting a new honest services statute the year after the Court’s decision.

Finally, I urge you to read this recent piece in the The Atlantic discussing Stevens’s formative encounter with white collar issues and the criminal justice system more generally when his father was convicted with embezzlement when Stevens was a child. The conviction was ultimately overturned.

I’m not really equipped to comment on all the ways that Justice Stevens made our society better. He was a veteran, an able lawyer, and a judge who always kept the humanity of the parties before him centered in his opinions.


Continue Reading This Week in White Collar News: In Memoriam

Lots of national white collar stories in recent weeks.

But first, why no thoughts (yet) on the Mueller Report? First, it’s been and will continue to be widely covered elsewhere. Second, it’s been a busy two days, and I haven’t finished reading it yet. You probably shouldn’t trust the analysis of anyone else

Happy new year! While the shutdown has slowed DOJ, it has not stopped it. And we have fraud documentaries from Netflix and Hulu.

  • Just after the new year, the Senate confirmed Brian Moran as the Western District of Washington’s new U.S. Attorney.
  • Also in Seattle, a guilty plea to wire fraud and filing a false

  • Last Monday, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control authorized certain transactions winding down or maintaining business with Russian aluminum giant RUSAL through October, after sanctions against the company announced earlier this month hurt industry
  • Charges against two men alleged to have been conspiring to commit economic espionage on behalf of a Chinese company