October 21, 2011 8:47 PM
Former MoFo Partner Pleads Guilty to Bilking Insurers, San Francisco Schools
Posted by Sara Randazzo
Jonathan Dickstein, a former Morrison & Foerster partner in San Francisco, could wind up in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to 31 felony counts stemming from a $400,000 scam he and his wife concocted based on their autistic son's education and medical treatment.
Dickstein is scheduled to be sentenced November 15 following his conviction on charges including grand theft, forgery, insurance fraud, and conspiracy, a spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney's office confirmed Friday.
Dickstein and his wife, Barclay Lynn, were arrested in August 2010 and charged with creating a fictitious in-home care and education provider for their autistic son. The couple used the fake company, Puzzle Pieces, to double bill their medical insurance providers, Anthem Blue Cross and MoFo's own self-insurance arm, and the San Francisco Unified School District. School district lawyers alerted authorities to the scam.
Dickstein—a Stanford University and Harvard Law School graduate and former cochair of MoFo's life sciences practice—resigned from the firm to launch a solo practice five months before he and his wife were arrested, sibling publication The Recorder reported last year. Dickstein joined MoFo in 1999 and became a partner there in 2001.
Lynn, who also pleaded guilty to 31 counts, was sentenced last month to one day in jail and received credit for time served, her lawyer, Douglas Rappaport, said Friday. She was also sentenced to five years probation, and, along with Dickstein, must repay the stolen money, Rappaport said.
Dickstein and Lynn pleaded "open to the court," according to a district attorney's office spokesman, meaning they rejected a plea bargain offer—which the spokesman would only say included prison time—and left sentencing to the judge's discretion.
Dickstein's lawyer, Garrick Lew, was not available for comment Friday.
San Francisco Unified School District general counsel Maribel Medina said Friday that Dickstein and Lynn have so far repaid $110,000 of the roughly $238,000 stolen from the schools. Medina said she hopes the couple's punishment doesn't end with restitution and that Dickstein winds up incarcerated.
A harsher sentence, Medina says, would help deter other potential scam artists. "If you're thinking of stealing from the children of SFUSD, you better think twice," she says. "We're going to catch you and work hard to prosecute you."
Rappaport argues that jail time would be too harsh a sentence.
"Even though, currently, we all love to punish white-collar criminals—it's the same reason why people are occupying Wall Street . . . the fact is, Jonathan has hurt nobody physically," Rappaport says. "When you take money from people, you hurt them indirectly. It's different if you punch somebody in the face, and it's different if you sell crack."
Rappaport says the public shaming the couple has been forced to undergo and the damage that Dickstein has suffered to his career is punishment enough. Rappaport argues that, in a way, the school district reaped a windfall because under normal circumstances it would have had to cover at least part of the cost of educating Dickstein and Lynn's son, but instead have received full reimbursement.Make a comment