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Ex-GC’s Suit Claims Howrey, Wilson Sonsini Aided Scapegoat Effort

Posted Sep 18, 2009 9:43 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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McAfee’s former general counsel alleges the company tried to use him as a scapegoat in a backdating probe with the help of two outside law firms, according to new details of a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The suit filed by Kent Roberts, acquitted last year in a criminal backdating case, claims his former company made him a scapegoat to divert attention away from the company’s board and its then-CEO. The “doozy” of a complaint criticizes an internal backdating probe by the law firm Howrey and a deal negotiated by Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, the American Lawyer reports.

The suit alleges Howrey came across numerous instances of backdating by others in its investigation, yet the deal negotiated by Wilson Sonsini limited depositions in a Securities and Exchange Commission probe to a 2000 option grant involving only Roberts, the story says. The suit also claims both firms took no action when they learned that internal directors’ e-mails had been deleted in violation of a freeze order.

A McAfee spokeswoman told the American Lawyer that, based on an initial review, the suit has “no merit whatsoever.” The law firms are not named as defendants.

The suit, filed in San Francisco federal court, claims defamation, invasion of privacy and malicious prosecution.

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