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If Plato Cacheris didn’t exist, a novelist would have created him to divine the path of justice through complex tales of political intrigue, espionage, and attractive women not so innocently swept up by scandal. But Cacheris is real � a courtly gentleman whose charm is not lost on juries, judges, clients, and prosecutors alike. “He is always polite, always respectful,” says Helen Fahey, who, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1993 to 2001, frequently faced off against Cacheris. “He knows what a case is worth, what the chances are of conviction or acquittal. And he knows how to deal with prosecutors.” These days, Cacheris, now with D.C.’s Trout Cacheris, is one of the attorneys for Michael Scanlon, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and agreed to cooperate against his former colleague and Capitol Hill’s villain du jour, Jack Abramoff. But over a career that has spanned more than 50 years, Cacheris has represented many of the famous and the infamous. Topping the list, perhaps, are two of the most notorious spies ever captured in the United States, CIA agent Aldrich Ames, in 1994, and FBI agent Robert Hanssen, in 2000. Both cases involved highly sensitive matters, and it is a measure of the respect given Cacheris that he was appointed to handle the two cases by judges in the Eastern District of Virginia. He cut deals for both Ames and Hanssen that allowed them to avoid the death penalty. Back in the 1970s, Cacheris represented former Attorney General John Mitchell, an accused Watergate conspirator. That didn’t turn out so well for Mitchell, who was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. But Cacheris enjoys a daily reminder of the case � a tennis court he dubbed the John Mitchell Memorial court, built adjacent to his Alexandria, Va., home. And who could forget Fawn Hall (assistant to Lt. Col. Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal) or Monica Lewinsky (President Bill Clinton’s special friend)? Both relied on Cacheris when the going got rough. What makes Cacheris so well regarded among prosecutors? “If Plato told you the sky was orange, you wouldn’t even bother to look up,” says Charles Rosenberg, the U.S. attorney in Houston who previously served in the federal prosecutor’s office in Alexandria. “He simply wouldn’t ever hedge the truth. So far as I can see, his entire career is built on the ‘truth-as-currency’ formulation.” According to attorneys and former clients, when Cacheris takes a case he also forms a real bond of empathy with the client. He learns about the client’s family, the conditions of her life, her likes and dislikes. Gerard Treanor of D.C.’s Venable, himself a well-respected defense attorney, calls Cacheris “a very good person.” Says Treanor: “I have seen on four or five occasions where his ability to defend was enhanced by his understanding of the individual.” Where does that understanding arise from? Well, Cacheris, 76, says it may have all started with his unusual name: “My parents were Greek immigrants . . . and my mother had an affinity for philosophy; thus she wanted me to be Plato.” But Plato was a burdensome name for a boy, he remembers. There was mocking and jeering from other boys, a youthful gantlet that may have sharpened his ability to empathize with those in trouble. On the bright side, says Cacheris, he’s never had to be introduced more than once. His is a name that people remember.

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