Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Nevin Shapiro
Lawyers who represent Ponzi schemers are often placed under the microscope, even if they were not involved in their client's criminal activities, and sometimes, something comes from it. A Miami attorney for convicted Ponzi schemer, Nevin Shapiro, Maria Elena Perez, has had charges filed against her by the Florida bar, the agency that regulates attorney conduct.

Perez represented Shapiro in his criminal case; to gain an advantage for her client, namely a major supporter for his sentencing, the NCAA, the National College Athletic Association, she deposed witnesses, in connection with her client's pending bankruptcy proceedings, and made that information available to the NCAA, which was investigating the University of Miami for improper conduct in its athletic department, to which Shapiro had contributed. The NCAA had no subpoena powers, so Perez used the depositions to help the NCAA.

Perez' aim was to have the NCAA testify favorably at Shapiros' sentencing, as she was attempting to get for her client as small a sentence as possible. There was even a plan to have NCAA representatives state that they wanted Shapiro to travel around to colleges and universities, to relate his experiences with making illegal contributions to an athletic program.

Now, the NCAA investigators have been fired, Shapiro received a 20-year sentence for his $930m Ponzi scheme, and Ms. Perez faces the consequences of trying to game the system to aid a major Florida Ponzi schemer in obtaining a short sentence for his crimes. Lawyers for Ponzi schemers would do well to take heed of the lessons learned from this case: everyone involved in a Ponzi case, including even defense counsel, must assume that they are potential targets.  

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