Three former Dewey & LeBoeuf executives facing fraud and conspiracy charges got an unexpected lift at their criminal trial late Thursday when a former partner glowingly extolled their work ethic and professional character.

Ralph Ferrara, who joined predecessor LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in January 2005 after a lengthy career at Debevoise & Plimpton and who left the former as its largely ceremonial vice chair just before Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy in May 2012, called ex-chair Steven Davis a “friend” and “an honorable man” who worked tirelessly to build up the 1,400-lawyer firm.

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