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Frank Quattrone, who became the target of criminal charges Wednesday after some three years of inquiries into Silicon Valley’s investment banking practices, has hired San Francisco heavy-hitter John Keker. Quattrone, former head of the technology banking group of Credit Suisse First Boston, faces charges of witness tampering and obstructing justice brought by the U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York. The complaint, filed Wednesday by U.S. Attorney James Comey, alleges Quattrone sent an e-mail to his staff encouraging them to destroy documents sought in federal and regulatory agency probes. Quattrone voluntarily surrendered to authorities and pleaded not guilty Wednesday morning before Southern District Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz in New York. He was released on his own recognizance. Keker, a partner at Keker & Van Nest, accompanied Quattrone to his appearance and issued a colorful statement regarding his client’s innocence. “Only prosecutors who see the world through dirty windows would take a one-sentence e-mail supporting company policy and try to turn it into a federal criminal case,” Keker said. “These accusations are wrong and unfair.” Keker said he would seek an early jury trial in the matter. Quattrone, who resigned from Credit Suisse last month, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of obstructing the federal grand jury investigation, and up to five years if convicted of obstructing the SEC probe. He also faces one count of destruction of evidence, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Quattrone is already facing regulatory action by the National Association of Securities Dealers for violating a handful of industry rules. His lawyer in that matter is Howard Heiss, a Morrison & Foerster partner in New York. Local white-collar crime defense lawyers weren’t surprised to see Keker center stage in a matter involving a high-profile government target. Keker is currently defending Andrew Fastow, former Enron Corp. chief financial officer. And Keker also was tapped to prosecute Lt. Col. Oliver North in the famed Iran-Contra trial in 1989. Allen Ruby, a partner at Ruby & Schofield in San Jose, said Quattrone made a wise choice in choosing Keker, but that Keker faces a difficult task. “It’s no surprise that someone with serious legal issues would hire [Keker],” Ruby said, adding that while the government is a formidable adversary, Keker is more than a match. Criminal prosecutors are increasingly fearful that a target of inquiry could obstruct justice and are reacting swiftly, particularly in high-profile cases, Ruby said. “In an e-mail age, the government may feel it needs to be aggressive in discouraging people from doing away with document evidence,” Ruby said. Prosecutors allege Quattrone obstructed federal investigations when he sent an e-mail to the members of his group “strongly” advising them to heed an e-mail sent the day before by a subordinate. The earlier e-mail encouraged employees to comply with the bank’s document retention policy and “clean up” files relating to initial public offerings handled by the group. At the time, Credit Suisse was under investigation by the NASD, the SEC and a Manhattan federal grand jury over how the bank had allocated shares in a number of technology company initial public offerings in 1999 and 2000. Prosecutors allege that Quattrone’s Dec. 5, 2000, e-mail resulted in the destruction of “numerous” subpoenaed documents. According to the complaint, Quattrone knew investigators were seeking documents and had been told to retain information relating to certain IPOs. Prosecutors say Quattrone also had been informed about the grand jury subpoena by Credit Suisse’s general counsel. Prosecutors have cast a wide net in Silicon Valley while investigating banking practices involving technology IPOs. For the most part, say defense lawyers, most of the people targeted are company executives and bankers. And most recently, lawyers say they’re signing on new clients who have come under the scrutiny of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who is said to be building a case but has not yet leveled charges. “It’s definitely a more adverse environment,” said David Furbush, a former Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison lawyer who is now a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. The obstruction charges against Quattrone signal that maneuvering among the myriad prosecutors and regulators is more treacherous, Furbush said. “It’s sort of like charging Al Capone with tax evasion,” Furbush said. “Sometimes they come up with a claim that they weren’t originally investigating but that they think is easier to prove.” Anthony Lin of The National Law Journal , a Recorder affiliate, contributed to this report.

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