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Richard Morvillo doesn’t consider himself a typical alumnus of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Granted, the 55-year-old leader of Crowell & Moring’s securities regulation and enforcement group now serves as head of the Association of Securities and Exchange Commission Alumni. But Morvillo, who spent just one year as a branch chief in the Division of Enforcement, wears the brevity of his experience at the commission like a badge of honor. “I’m proud that I didn’t come out of a high-level position at the SEC with a national reputation — that I developed my reputation from scratch,” says Morvillo. That reputation has earned him clients such as U.S. Foodservice Chief Marketing Officer Mark Kaiser, who is under investigation by both the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and the SEC in connection with an $880 million overstatement of the company’s profits over three years. Kaiser exited U.S. Foodservice in the spring and was soon followed by the company’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer, and general counsel. The hottest growing business scandal of the moment is also on Morvillo’s plate. He represents several clients in the market timing investigations of the mutual fund industry. And Morvillo recently won motions to dismiss two major securities suits brought by certificate-holders in Heilig-Meyers securitized trusts against First Union, which merged with the Wachovia Corp. two years ago. The bank was sued because it had underwritten securities for Heilig-Meyers, a furniture conglomerate that filed for bankruptcy in 2000. Prior to joining Crowell in 1994, Morvillo was a name partner in eight-lawyer Richardson, Berlin & Morvillo. Between 1999 and 2001, he was a partner in the D.C. office of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart, before rejoining Crowell. Many former securities regulators now in private practice are quick to settle and “kill” a case with the SEC before it becomes public. But Morvillo, whose work ranges from securities enforcement matters to white collar defense, notes that he has shaped his practice differently. “Clients go to Crowell when they can’t settle,” says Morvillo, a Fordham University law graduate. “Most people who come from the SEC won’t litigate.” At least one client concurs. Francis Clark, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Wachovia, says, “Few people enjoy trying securities cases in court. But he does, and he’s been known to take on the government in court — and win.” Indeed, in March 2003, Morvillo met the SEC in court and won. The commission accused lawyer John Lowy, a principal stockholder in Latin American Resources Inc., of participating in the publication of a false registration statement and of making other misleading public statements about the assets of the small company. After a 10-day bench trial, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert of Long Island dismissed the action. In August, the SEC dropped fraud charges against another Morvillo client, former National Medical Care Chief Financial Officer A. Miles Nogelo, who agreed to a cease-and-desist order. National Medical Care was a subsidiary of W.R. Grace & Co., which came under investigation in connection with suspected earnings manipulation in the early 1990s. Capital One Chief Financial Officer David Willey, who is under SEC investigation for alleged insider trading of $3.2 million in stock, is looking to Morvillo for counsel. No charges have yet been filed in that case. And former Spiegel Inc. Chairman Michael Moran and several other senior executives of the struggling retailer tapped Morvillo to represent them in connection with an SEC investigation into allegations that Spiegel withheld material financial information from the public. The only stumbling block in Richard Morvillo’s career these days may be the risk of being confused with his big brother, Robert Morvillo of New York’s Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason & Silberberg. A talent for representing corporate executives in trouble apparently runs in the family. Robert Morvillo counts Martha Stewart, set to go on trial Jan. 12 on insider trading charges, as a client. Plus, there are two nephews, E. Scott Morvillo and Christopher Morvillo, lawyers in the U.S. attorney’s offices in the Eastern and Southern districts of New York, respectively.

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