The Firms

March 28, 2008 5:15 PM

Former Latham Partner Pleads Guilty to Federal Fraud Charges

Posted by Brian Baxter

Samuel Fishman, a former corporate partner with Latham & Watkins in New York, has pled guilty to charges of defrauding clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses.

Jack Litman, a name partner at New York criminal defense firm Litman, Asche & Gioiella, is representing Fishman. According to Dow Jones Newswires, Fishman pled guilty to one count of mail fraud at a hearing in Manhattan federal district court before Judge Victor Marrero on Friday. Assistant U.S. attorney Sarah Lai of the major crimes unit represented the government. Fishman faces a maximum of 20 years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for June 27.

A former Latham employee who insisted on anonymity confirmed that Fishman, 51, is a former Latham partner. Securities and Exchange Commission filings from several companies also list Fishman as once being affiliated with the firm. Campaign finance records describe Fishman as a Latham “attorney/partner,” with residences in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, in 1999, and Berkeley in 2000.

A complaint filed March 14 by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office says Fishman “was the billing partner for a number of the firm’s institutional clients…[in the] banking, utilities, telecommunications, and entertainment industries.”

According to court records, Fishman “engaged in a fraudulent scheme to charge the firm and its clients hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal and nonexistent business expenses” between 1993 and 2005. Once Latham discovered the scheme, prosecutors say, the firm “expeditiously reimbursed” its clients.

In a statement provided to The American Lawyer, New York office managing partner David Gordon says Fishman “resigned from the firm at the time the issues were discovered” in 2005. “[Latham] immediately acted to protect our clients fully, and disclosed the matter to appropriate law enforcement authorities,” Gordon says. “Since that time, we have cooperated fully with the investigation.”

In addition to bringing fraud charges—the complaint says Fishman mischaracterized invoices for meals, parking, hotels, mailings, and photocopies—prosecutors want Fishman to forfeit $350,000 that he pocketed from his illegal activities.

Fishman isn’t the first Latham partner to have billing troubles. In the late nineties, former partner Timothy Flato, then head of the firm’s project finance practice, admitted to falsifying hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of expense reports over a three-year period.

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