Criminal Justice

Former Baker McKenzie partner is sentenced to prison; prosecutors cite deterrent for BigLaw lawyers

A former partner at Baker & McKenzie was sentenced to two years in prison on Wednesday for conduct that a judge deemed a product of “greed, plain and simple.”

Martin Weisberg, 62 was sentenced for accepting kickbacks related to clients’ securities offerings and for spending about $1.3 million in interest from a client’s escrow account. He had pleaded guilty last year to money laundering and conspiracy to commit securities fraud. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog and the New York Law Journal have stories.

The kickback scheme occurred while Weisberg worked at the now dissolved law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist.

Weisberg’s lawyers had sought a sentence of probation. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw said in court papers that probation would “feed Martin Weisberg’s sense of entitlement to act outside of the law,” according to the New York Law Journal account. She also said prison would be a deterrent to lawyers at large, high-profile law firms who think “status is a shield allowing special privileges from the law.”

When imposing the sentence, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis of Brooklyn said Weisberg’s actions were “calculated frauds and lies” that were based on “greed, plain and simple,” the New York Law Journal says.

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