Jonathan Dickstein, a former Morrison & Foerster partner, pleaded not guilty in San Francisco Superior Court Thursday to allegations he and his wife bilked $400,000 from the San Francisco Unified School District and insurers.
At the arraignment in front of Judge Bruce Chan, Dickstein held hands with his wife, Barclay Lynn, who also entered a not guilty plea.
The couple is fighting to keep the arrest affidavit in the case secret, filing a motion ( .pdf ) earlier this week to seal the 163-page document.
Last month, they were arrested and charged by the San Francisco district attorney's office with 31 felony counts, including grand theft, forgery, insurance fraud and conspiracy. The DA's office contended that Dickstein and Lynn fraudulently collected reimbursement for therapy services for their autistic son from the San Francisco Unified School District, Anthem Blue Cross and a policy self-insured by MoFo.
San Francisco criminal defense attorney Garrick Lew is representing Dickstein, and Lynn's attorney is Douglas Rappaport.
In their jointly filed motion to seal the arrest affidavit, Dickstein and Lynn argued that letting the public see the document would compromise private and confidential information and contaminate the jury pool with pretrial publicity. They cited a stack of newspaper articles on the case, including caustic remarks amid 16 pages of comments about the couple on the San Francisco Chronicle 's website.
Today, Chan gave the DA's office time to respond to the motion. In the meantime he maintained his previous order keeping the document confidential.
Prosecutors say Dickstein and Lynn started a company called Puzzle Pieces and made claims for reimbursement for the special-education services the company provided to their son, sometimes double-charging or more for the services.
Dickstein, a former leader of MoFo's life sciences group, joined the firm in 1999 and became partner in 2001. He resigned from the firm earlier this year.
Spreadsheets taken from the couple's house show that Dickstein and Lynn took home an extra $100,000 on top of Dickstein's MoFo earnings, according to the DA's office.
At the arraignment, Chan also asked for briefing on whether Dickstein and Lynn could put up real estate outside of California to substitute the cash bond they currently have in place for bail, which was set at $100,000.
Chan set an Oct. 5 court date for a hearing on the motion to seal the arrest warrant.