The Work

March 2, 2009 1:37 PM

Stanford Drama: Who Will Rep the Top Two Execs?

Posted by Zach Lowe

There's a lot to catch up on in the case of R. Allen Stanford, the banking guru now accused of presiding over a Ponzi scheme that may have cost investors $6 billion--or more. Stanford (and top lieutenant James Davis) have escaped criminal charges so far, but a third executive, Laura Pendergest-Holt, was charged Friday with lying to the SEC.

First, the news: At this morning's hearing at federal district court in Dallas, a judge issued a restraining order freezing Pendergest-Holt's assets and continuing similar orders against the other defendants, lawyers say.

Now, let's get to those lawyers. We already know who Pendergest's lawyers are: Jeffrey Tillotson of the Texas firm Lynn Tillotson Pinker & Cox and Erik Christiansen of the Salt Lake City firm Parsons Behle & Latimer. (Tillotson says Pendergest-Holt found Parsons Behle first, and that Christiansen reached out to him because of prior work the firms have done together; Christiansen was not immediately available for comment.)

Update: Brent Baker, a partner at Parsons who worked at the SEC for 15 years, says people who can't afford $1,000 per hour white-collar defense lawyers come to him and pay about a third of that price. "Laura falls into that category," Baker says. 

(One interesting tidbit from this story in Saturday's New York Times: Proskauer Rose partner Thomas Sjoblom was in the room as the Stanford company lawyer when Pendergest-Holt allegedly lied to SEC investigators earlier this month about Stanford's financial affairs. Approximately $1.6 billion of the firm's assets apparently consisted of a loan from Stanford. Pendergest-Holt knew about the loan and the general problems facing Stanford's company but hid the truth from the SEC, the NYT says. Sjoblom withdrew from the case days later and told the SEC he could no longer stand by any written or oral statements he'd given the agency about the Stanford case.)

Baker says he usually advises his clients against cooperating with the SEC. As for Pendergest-Holt, Baker says she "has clearly tried to cooperate."

As for Stanford himself, it appears that reports he hired Williams & Connolly star Brendan Sullivan, Jr., may have been premature. Tillotson tells us that Charles "Chuck" Meadows, name partner of Meadows, Collier, Reed, Cousins & Blau in Dallas, appeared in court today and told Judge David Godbey he is in negotiations to represent Stanford. 

We called Meadows, who told us Stanford reached out to him for today's hearing on the restraining order, but that no deal for any further work has been reached. 

As for Davis, who pleaded the Fifth before the SEC last week, no lawyer showed up to represent him, Tillotson says.

Paul Coggins, a principal at Fish & Richardson in Dallas, says he's in talks to represent Davis but that those discussions are "up in the air." Coggins was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas from 1993-2001, and prosecuted everything from anthrax hoaxes to cyber crime. More recently, he represented Andrews Kurth in its agreement to pay $18.5 million to Enron and its creditors in 2007, and helped raise money for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign

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For too many years our Country has allowed greed from top to bottom. Our Congress, Gov't Agencies and even our courts have allowed person's of wealth and influence to get by with theft and even murder. The SEC for example couldn't find their butts with both hands, ie Madoff mess and now the Stanford mess. Just having a college degree doesn't me you smarter than other people. It also takes common sense to go with it. The SEC was told over and over about the Madoff and other problems, but were either to ignorant of self occupied to see what was going on. I think that part of the bailout money given to the banks and part of the stilmulas package should to to the victims of these type of incidents. After all they are the reason that these type of activities existed and people are loosing their money,their homes, their earned credit and their financial well being. The United States Government needs to take responsibility for their actions and prosecute the wrong doers and the people who let it happen to the fullest extend of the law.

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