Former Department of Justice Attorney Pleads Guilty To Obstruction Of Justice and Interstate Transportation Of Stolen Property
Monday, February 10th, 2020 @ 3:45PM
CFEG reports that United States Attorney, Brian J. Stretch, announced that on November 29, 2017, a former Department of Justice attorney pleaded guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of transportation of stolen property in a federal district court in the Northern District of California. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
The guilty plea was accepted by U.S. District Maxine M. Chesney, following the filing of the charges in a criminal information. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
According to the plea agreement, the Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney, of Washington, D.C., worked for the Civil Fraud Section of the Department of Justice from October 24, 2010, until April 12, 2016. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
During that time, he worked on qui tam actions pursuant to which the government investigated companies suspected of breaking the law. By statute, qui tam complaints are filed under seal and therefore kept from public view until the court orders that the complaints may be made public. In his plea agreement, the DOJ attorney admitted that during the last month of his employment as a trial attorney with the Department of Justice, he began secretly reviewing and collecting sealed qui tam complaints that were not assigned to him. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf He admitted that after leaving the Department of Justice, he used the stolen information to improperly solicit clients that were the subject of the sealed complaints. He acknowledged that in one instance, he was successful in using the information from a sealed complaint to convince the subject of a lawsuit to retain him as an attorney to represent it in the lawsuit. The DOJ attorney also acknowledged he lied to the Department of Justice in documents he completed during his exit process regarding whether he stole the complaints. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
The plea agreement also describes two occasions in which the DOJ attorney attempted to sell information to companies that were the subject of government investigations. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf On November 30, 2016, he offered to sell a complaint to the corporation named in the lawsuit. Then, between November 30, 2016, and January 31, 2017, he engaged in multiple conversations with a representative of the corporation to negotiate the sale of the sealed complaint for $310,000. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf Similarly, on January 23, 2017, this DOJ attorney contacted a second corporation and offered to mail to the representative a copy of the face sheet of the complaint. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf The DOJ attorney actually mailed a redacted copy of the face sheet and promised that, for a fee, he would provide the entire complaint.
The DOJ attorney was arrested on January 31, 2017, after traveling from the Washington, D.C. area to the San Francisco Bay area with a copy of a sealed complaint. On that day, the DOJ attorney believed he was meeting at a Cupertino hotel with a representative from a company with whom he would exchange the complaint for a duffel bag filled with $310,000. In fact, he was meeting with an undercover employee of the FBI. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
Further, the DOJ attorney admitted that after his arrest, he took steps in an effort to obstruct the ongoing investigation. Specifically, after being released from custody, he returned to his office, purportedly to retrieve his personal belongings, and removed and destroyed documents from his office that he knew could further incriminate him. The DOJ attorney acknowledged he took these and additional other steps in an effort to corruptly obstruct the ongoing investigation and proceedings against him. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
On November 1, 2017, the DOJ attorney was charged by information with two counts of obstruction of justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1505, and one count of interstate transportation of stolen goods, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the Defendant DOJ attorney pleaded guilty to all counts. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
The maximum statutory sentence for each count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 1505 is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum statutory sentence for a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2314 is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Additional fines, victim restitution, and a term of supervised release also may be imposed. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. https://oig.justice.gov/press/2017/2017-11-29.pdf
When Department of Justice attorneys engage in criminal conduct such as obstruction of justice and interstate transportation of stolen goods, the U.S. Department of Justice fails to enforce the laws with integrity and fairness to all.