Good morning. Damian Williams, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, has solidified his role as the country’s top cryptocurrency enforcer with his office’s charges against SBF – but that’s not the only alleged crypto fraud he’s tackled this week. Plus, the FTX bankruptcy pits the company’s restructuring team against the Bahamian government, and Twitter cuts Cooley. Let’s get to it.
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REUTERS/David Dee Delgado
Veteran financial crimes prosecutor Damian Williams, now U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, seems to be positioning his office to take the lead on cryptocurrency fraud, report Luc Cohen and Chris Prentice.
Williams brought charges against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried this week, describing the collapse of FTX as one of the "biggest financial frauds in American history." Bankman-Fried is facing charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, among other things. His lawyer, Mark S. Cohen, said in a statement that his client is reviewing his legal options.
And on Wednesday, Williams’ office laid out charges against another cryptocurrency scam. Prosecutors charged nine people in what Williams described as a pair of cryptocurrency Ponzi schemes, claiming they told investors they were putting their money into crypto mining and trading companies. In reality, there was no cryptocurrency mining or trading happening, prosecutors said.
The individuals charged have either pleaded not guilty or have not yet entered pleas.
Twitter has dropped law firm Cooley as its defense counsel in a high-profile lawsuit accusing the tech company of promoting child sexual abuse material on its platform. Cooley, a go-to firm for Twitter before Elon Musk’s acquisition, was disparaged by the Tesla founder before he bought the social media company. Quinn Emanuel, whose partners include Musk's personal lawyer Alex Spiro, will now represent Twitter in the case before the 9th Circuit. (Reuters)
Casey Lucier returns to McGuireWoods as a partner in its D.C.-based white-collar and government investigations practice after serving as counsel to the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. (Reuters)
Paula Olson/NOAA Fisheries/Handout via REUTERS
That’s the maximum population of vaquitas, the world’s smallest porpoise, that remain in Mexico's upper Gulf of California, according to estimates by biologists in 2018. Three environmental groups including the Center for Biological Diversity have asked a federal court to pressure the U.S. government under the Fishermen's Protective Act to sanction Mexico for failing to protect the vaquita, which is now considered in "serious danger of extinction." The porpoises often become entangled and die in fishing nets used to catch shrimp, totoaba, and other finned fish.
3M Co told a federal appeals court this week that an Indiana federal bankruptcy judge could have — and should have — followed any one of at least three distinct lines of reasoning to conclude that mass tort litigation over allegedly defective 3M Co military earplugs must be paused during the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of 3M’s Aearo. Instead, argued 3M counsel Paul Clement of Clement & Murphy, the judge repeatedly veered off track last August, when he ruled that tens of thousands of military veterans whose claims have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation in Pensacola, Florida, can continue litigating against 3M, despite Aearo’s bankruptcy. Alison Frankel delves into 3M’s arguments for why the 7th Circuit should align with several other appellate courts that have allowed parent companies to use subsidiaries’ bankruptcy to get out of mass tort litigation.
"Modelo has more dictionaries on its side of this debate over the meaning of 'beer' than does CBI."
—U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who said supportive dictionary definitions of the word “beer” aren’t enough to resolve a trademark dispute between Anheuser-Busch Inbev's Grupo Modelo and the U.S. distributor of its Corona beer, Constellation Brands, over whether hard seltzer is included in Constellation’s beer licensing agreement with Modelo. Kaplan denied a pretrial win to Modelo, which accused Constellation of breaching the companies’ agreement and infringing Modelo’s trademark by selling a Corona-branded seltzer. Now, a jury trial is brewing to determine what constitutes "beer" under the agreement.
The Democratic-led U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on whether to advance D.C. Superior Court Judge Todd Edelman's nomination to become a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C. The committee is also going to consider the nomination of Ballard Spahr partner Jill Steinberg for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
The State Bar Court in California is holding a hearing in the case against former State Bar of California Executive Director Joe Dunn after the bar filed disciplinary charges against him. He’s accused of wrongly spending bar funds on a trip to Mongolia and concealing opposition to a bill he wanted its board to sponsor. A former state senator who is now a lecturer and special adviser to the dean at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, Dunn could be disbarred if the court upholds the charges, his lawyer said. In a court filing, Dunn, who is represented by Mark Geragos of Geragos & Geragos, said he plans to ask for the case to be dismissed because the bar’s special deputy trial counsel allegedly failed to turn over discovery material.
- A sentencing hearing will be held in Michigan state court for Joseph Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar, who were convicted in October for assisting in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. They could each face up to 20 years in prison.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
Amanda Neely, the former director of governmental affairs on the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and general counsel to Republican Senator Rob Portman, rejoins Gibson Dunn. Neely will be of counsel in the firm’s public policy and congressional investigations practice groups in D.C. (Gibson Dunn)
- Morrison Cohen has added former SEC trial counsel Richard Hong as a partner in its business litigation practice in New York. (Morrison Cohen)
Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney has added Jared Johnson as a shareholder in its tax practice in Philadelphia. Johnson was previously a partner at White and Williams. (Buchanan)
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