David Boies of Boies Schiller & Flexner and David Ellenhorn, senior trial counsel for the Attorney General’s Office (NLJ/Diego Radzinschi; NYLJ/Rick Kopstein)
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics said Assistant Attorney General David Ellenhorn improperly accepted a plane ride from an adversary without first obtaining permission from his boss. But the panel declined to impose a fine or sanction.
Ellenhorn was reported to JCOPE by advocates for Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former head American International Group (AIG) who is awaiting trial on civil fraud charges brought in 2005 by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The complaint alleged Ellenhorn, after attending a Greenberg-related 2009 deposition in Omaha, Neb., was among several New York attorneys who were offered and accepted a ride home on a plane chartered by Greenberg’s attorney, David Boies of Boies, Schiller & Flexner.
In a settlement document released Wednesday, JCOPE and Ellenhorn agreed that he accepted Boies’ unsolicited offer without getting permission from the attorney general’s office, as required. It says that at the time, Ellenhorn, who has since taken an online ethics course, was unaware that he needed permission.
Boies did not incur additional expenses by offering the ride and Ellenhorn did not receive financial benefit, and there were no meals or alcoholic beverages served. However, the settlement notes that the state was not refunded the cost of Ellenhorn’s unused airplane ticket back to New York.
JCOPE’s executive director, Letizia Tagliafierro, said in a statement that Ellenhorn “failed to follow the basic travel rules” for all state employees that “help avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest.”
Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in an email: “After a flood of over-the-top rhetoric and outlandish accusations intended to distract from the serious fraud charges that three successive attorneys general have pursued against Mr. Greenberg, we are grateful that JCOPE agreed to resolve this matter without leveling any penalty or sanction.”