The trial began Monday in the prosecution of Robert Simels, a prominent Manhattan defense attorney charged with plotting with a client to threaten and bribe witnesses to prevent them from testifying.

“A license to practice law is not a license to break the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel D. Brownell told the federal jury before an overflowing courtroom in Brooklyn. In defending his client, drug kingpin Shaheed Khan, Simels employed a “win at all costs” strategy, promoting a plan of bribes and intimidation to ensure Khan’s acquittal, Brownell said.