Former Dentons associate who was accused in extortion plot pleads guilty to lesser charge

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A former Dentons associate who was accused of trying to extort $210,000 from his law firm has pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

The former Los Angeles associate, Michael Potere, pleaded guilty to accessing a computer without authorization, according to the plea agreement (PDF) and (sub. req.). The maximum penalty is up to a year in prison.

Potere was accused of threatening to leak law firm documents to the blog Above the Law, unless the firm paid him the money and gave him a piece of artwork.

According to the plea agreement, Potere accessed a law firm computer and downloaded confidential information. It included quarterly financial reports, documents describing how the firm determines billing rates, a list of clients and fees charged, confidential associate reviews, and an analysis describing recruitment of lateral lawyers.

The initial criminal complaint alleged Potere had used login credentials of a partner to access the documents. The complaint said Potere hatched the extortion plot after Dentons refused to let him keep working until he entered a political science degree program in the fall. He allegedly told partners that he felt like “people his age were getting screwed,” and he had nothing to lose because it had already been taken.

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