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September 20, 2010 5:13 PM

Bay Area Blotter: New Turns in Criminal Cases Affecting MoFo, Wilson Sonsini

Posted by Brian Baxter

Prosecutors pursuing fraud charges against individuals linked to two Am Law 100 firms based in the San Francisco Bay Area saw defendants in those alleged schemes enter pleas last week.

Former Morrison & Foerster partner Jonathan Dickstein and his wife Barclay Lynn pled not guilty to charges of using their autistic son to defraud the San Francisco Unified School District of nearly $400,000 between 2006 and 2008, according to sibling publication The Recorder.

The Am Law Daily reported in August on Dickstein's arrest on charges of duping the school system and private insurers--including MoFo's--by creating a sham in-home care and education provider called Puzzle Pieces that the lawyer and his wife allegedly used to bill for fake "services."

Dickstein joined MoFo in 1999 and became a partner two years later--he once cochaired the firm's life sciences practice--before resigning five months ago to start his own IP practice, The Recorder reports. A MoFo spokeswoman told The Recorder at the time of Dickstein's arrest that the firm was named as a victim in a complaint filed by prosecutors "because we are self-insured under one of the policies implicated in the charges."

The Recorder reports that the couple and their lawyers have filed a motion to keep secret a copy of the arrest affidavit, arguing that it contains details that would contaminate the jury pool with pretrial publicity and compromise their own private and confidential information. The couple, who are no longer in custody, are due back in court on October 5.

MoFo wasn't the only local firm recently caught up in a criminal investigation. On Friday the last of three defendants admitted guilt in a $1 million office-supply scam involving Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

A year ago, The Am Law Daily noted the arrest of former firm purchasing specialist John Masakazu Tashiro for allegedly conspiring with two top employees at San Francisco-based Attorneys Printing Supply to bilk Wilson Sonsini out of $1 million by submitting fraudulent orders for tab dividers.

One former APS employee pled guilty in April. Tashiro soon followed in May. Both will be sentenced in federal court next month. The last individual implicated in the scheme, ex-APS employee Carlos Vargas, joined his coconspirators in pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. The Mercury News reports that Vargas will be sentenced in January.

Each of the three face up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and possible restitution payments to Wilson Sonsini for the $1 million taken from the firm.

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