DOJ Issues New Guidance to Avoid “Piling On” in Corporate Enforcement Actions

Featured Expert Contributor, White Collar Crime & Corporate Compliance

Brower_GregGregory A. Brower, a Shareholder with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP in Las Vegas, NV and Washington, DC.

*Ed. Note: This is Greg’s inaugural commentary as a featured expert contributor. Greg is a member of WLF’s Legal Policy Advisory Board, and has extensive experience in law enforcement as a former United States Attorney and Deputy General Counsel of the FBI. He also served five terms in the Nevada legislature, where he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Last month, in several speeches delivered in New York City to separate groups of white collar defense lawyers, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced a new U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) policy concerning the proper coordination of penalties in corporate criminal cases.  This new policy, implemented by way of a new section in the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual (and a tweak to an existing provision), seeks to address the problem of “piling on” of multiple penalties by multiple enforcement entities in the context of corporate resolutions. Continue reading “DOJ Issues New Guidance to Avoid “Piling On” in Corporate Enforcement Actions”

President Commutes Sentence of Business Owner Victimized by Overcriminalization

rubashkinOn Wednesday, December 20, President Trump issued a statement commuting the sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, the former CEO of a kosher meatpacking plant. He had been convicted of financial fraud in 2009 and sentenced to 27 years in prison—a virtual life sentence for the then-51-year old Rubashkin. He had served 8 years of that sentence. Washington Legal Foundation actively participated in the courtroom and public resistance to the excessive sentence through amicus briefs and published commentaries. Continue reading “President Commutes Sentence of Business Owner Victimized by Overcriminalization”

Supreme Court’s Presumption-of-Innocence Decision Should Inspire Asset-Forfeiture Reformers

supreme courtIn a US Supreme Court term filled with cases that “only a lawyer could love,” the justices did issue at least one decision in October Term 2016—Nelson v. Colorado—that any TV crime-drama viewer can understand. The decision turned on the bedrock principle that the accused is innocent until proven guilty. While Justice Ginsburg’s opinion applies directly to a Colorado law, it could prove highly influential in the ongoing debate over civil-asset forfeiture, a controversial law-enforcement practice. Continue reading “Supreme Court’s Presumption-of-Innocence Decision Should Inspire Asset-Forfeiture Reformers”

Supreme Court Cert Grant in “Farha v. US” Can Clarify Level of Criminal Intent Needed to Prove “Knowledge”

johnlauroGuest Commentary

By John Lauro, a white-collar defense attorney who represented one of the WellCare defendants at trial and at the Eleventh Circuit.

On Friday, April 21, 2017, the US Supreme Court will meet in conference to consider a pending petition for certiorari in Farha v. United States, No. 16-888, a major white-collar fraud case raising an important issue of concern to the defense bar and their clients: whether “deliberate indifference” is a sufficient level of mens rea for proving “knowledge” with respect to federal criminal statutes.  The High Court should grant review and reverse the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruling holding otherwise.

Farha is a classic case of overcriminalization, where civil and administrative remedies are more appropriate in the regulatory area of complex healthcare and business law. The case was extensively discussed in prior postings at the WLF Legal Pulse (here and here) and a WLF Legal Backgrounder [hot link to Kaiser’s piece]. In brief, following a raid by 200 FBI Agents at the offices of WellCare, a Florida Medicaid health maintenance organization, several executives, including the CEO, CFO, and general counsel, were indicted on healthcare fraud charges based on the government’s interpretation of Florida’s Medicaid law.   Continue reading “Supreme Court Cert Grant in “Farha v. US” Can Clarify Level of Criminal Intent Needed to Prove “Knowledge””

FEDERAL REGULATORY READING LIST: Resources for New Leaders at DOJ

DOJ*Note: This is the third in a series of posts compiling Washington Legal Foundation papers, briefs, regulatory comments, and blog commentaries relevant to critical legal and constitutional issues facing new senior leaders at specific federal regulatory agencies. To read posts addressing other federal agencies, click here.

As the federal government’s primary prosecutor, the Department of Justice (DOJ) serves an important role in enforcing criminal penalties.  However, DOJ frequently oversteps its bounds and advances overzealous enforcement policies.

Through its public-interest litigation, publishing, and other advocacy, WLF influenced debates over DOJ’s recent policies and actions with timely papers and blog commentaries, and weighed in directly through amicus briefs.  Those activities have resulted in an impressive body of reference materials that are instructive for new leadership in the agency.  This post provides a summary of and links to those documents below to simplify access to relevant work product from WLF in each of those areas.

Overcriminalization Timeline

In November 2015, WLF released the third edition of its Timeline: Federal Erosion of Business Civil Liberties (Overcriminalization Timeline).  Each category in the Timeline reflects a separate concern with DOJ’s approach to white-collar criminal enforcement: mens rea, DOJ criminal enforcement, attorney-client and work product privileges, deferred prosecution and non-prosecution agreements, and criminal sentencing. Continue reading “FEDERAL REGULATORY READING LIST: Resources for New Leaders at DOJ”

WLF Web Seminar Assesses Criminalization of Food-Safety Regulation

 

Speakers:

Related Materials:

  • Powerpoint slides used by Mr. Neale available here
  • WLF Legal Opinion Letter authored by David Debold on US v. DeCoster, discussed in seminar, available here

Feds Should Absolutely, Positively Abandon Bizarre Prosecution of FedEx—Overnight

barsLast term, in the now-infamous Yates case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Department of Justice’s outrageous contention that an undersized Red Grouper thrown overboard by a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico was a “record, document, or tangible object” under the “anti-shredding” provision of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.  By so doing, the Court prevented a law passed in the wake of corporate accounting scandals at Enron and WorldCom from becoming an all-purpose hammer for prosecutors.  Yates quickly became the poster child for the “overcriminalization” phenomenon.

Unfortunately, it appears that DOJ has not learned its lesson.  Although the phrase “tangible object” at issue in Yates was overbroad and ambiguous, in other cases the problem of overcriminalization arises when the government seeks to attribute a new, nonobvious meaning to long-understood, perfectly plain statutory language.  Nowhere is that problem better epitomized than in the federal government’s utterly bizarre ongoing criminal prosecution of FedEx, which is slated for trial next month in federal court in San Francisco. Continue reading “Feds Should Absolutely, Positively Abandon Bizarre Prosecution of FedEx—Overnight”