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July 14, 2011 6:43 PM

Allen & Overy Partner Facing Child Porn Charges in N.J.

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 7/15/11, 10:45 a.m. Allen & Overy has provided a longer statement on the charges against Ed De Sear to U.K. publication Legal Week. A biography of De Sear no longer appears on the firm's Web site. CORRECTION: 7/15/11, 8:20 p.m. A previous version of this story should have said the charges against Moshe Gerstein were brought by the New York County District Attorney's Office. We regret the error.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey on Thursday charged Allen & Overy capital markets partner Edward De Sear with distributing child pornography.

De Sear, 65, a resident of Saddle River, N.J., appeared before U.S. magistrate judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark Thursday. He was released on $250,000 bond and ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device, according to a press release from the U.S. attorney's office in Newark.

The Allen & Overy partner is charged with one count of distribution of child pornography for allegedly downloading and distributing videos and other images going back to September 16 of last year, according to a statement by federal prosecutors. The government's graphic four-page criminal complaint states that federal investigators downloaded the images from a computer hard drive belonging to De Sear.

One of De Sear's lawyers, Michael Critchley, Jr., of Critchely, Kinum & Vazquez, in Roseland, N.J., declined to comment when reached by The Am Law Daily. De Sear is also represented by John Vazquez of the same firm. A call to De Sear at his office in New York was not immediately returned.

An Allen & Overy spokeswoman said in a statement to The Am Law Daily that the Magic Circle firm had just become aware of the charges against De Sear and was conducting an internal review of the matter. The firm declined to comment further.

De Sear joined Allen & Overy last August from Bingham McCutchen. He became a member of that firm after its merger with McKee Nelson in June 2009. (De Sear's move to McKee Nelson in June 2003 from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe was the subject of a story by sibling publication Legal Times.)

The case against De Sear is being prosecuted by Shirley Emehelu, a former Debevoise & Plimpton associate and current assistant U.S. attorney with the general crimes unit in Newark. If convicted of the charges, De Sear faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

De Sear is the third lawyer from an Am Law 100 firm to run into problems with child pornography in recent months. In June, former Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher associate Moshe Gerstein was one of a number of people charged in a sweeping child porn sting conducted by the district attorney's office in Manhattan. Gerstein was found dead in Mexico later that month.

Former Arnold & Porter lawyer Joshua Gessler lost his law license last month after he was charged in August 2010 with possessing and producing child pornography. Gessler pleaded guilty in March to six sexual offenses involving a 15-year-old girl, according to news reports.

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