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Defense in Dewey leaders' trial blames disloyal partners who 'picked up their marbles and ran'

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Steven Davis escorted in handcuffs

Steven Davis arrives in handcuffs for the arraignment at Manhattan Criminal Court in March 2014. Photo by Reuters Carlo Allegri from the February 2015 ABA Journal.

Defense lawyers told Manhattan jurors on Tuesday that former leaders of Dewey & LeBeouf who are accused of defrauding lenders had little knowledge of accounting and were themselves victimized by powerful partners who brought about the firm’s collapse.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, told jurors that the three accused men used underlings to perform the accounting “dirty work” that hid the law firm’s precarious financial situation from investors and banks. Opening statements continue Wednesday in the trial of former Dewey chairman Steven Davis, former executive director Stephen DiCarmine and former chief financial officer Joel Sanders. The New York Times, the New York Post, the Am Law Daily and Reuters have stories.

Assistant District Attorney Steve Pilnyak showed jurors some of the email evidence in the case, including an email from Sanders allegedly discussing how the firm would satisfy a cash flow covenant in a bank loan, according to the Am Law Daily account. “We came up with a big one,” the email said. “Reclass the disbursements.”

Elkan Abramowitz, who represents Davis, said any improper accounting was the work of a group of “panicky people” who acted mostly on their own, and Davis was unaware of wrongdoing, according to the Times story.

Abramowitz said Dewey & LeBoeuf collapsed because of “greedy” and “disloyal partners” who left the firm, taking clients with them. “They picked up their marbles and ran,” he said.

Related articles: “Sanitation worker, day trader among jurors selected in trial of Dewey leaders”

ABA Journal: “How Dewey management’s rosy picture masked an ugly truth”

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