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SAN FRANCISCO-Thanks to cross-country coordination efforts between two federal agencies, the first Silicon Valley lawyer to come under government scrutiny for stock-options problems is getting one more reprieve before being indicted. While it has been clear for nine months that Kent Roberts, the former general counsel of McAfee Inc., is in trouble, there’s been a string of delays in his case. The latest, said people with knowledge of the case, is because Washington-based Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawyers want to file civil charges at the same time-and they’re not ready yet. Roberts was fired by McAfee, a California maker of security software, in May after its own investigation found options improprieties. Since then, he has become the focus of a federal criminal inquiry, and press reports over the past two months-including several last week-have said an indictment is imminent for actions relating to a stock-options grant he received in 2000. Stephen Neal, the Cooley Godward Kronish partner representing Roberts, wouldn’t say whether he expects his client to be charged. The SEC typically seeks to coordinate its charges with those filed by criminal prosecutors, said attorneys working on options investigations. Speaking generally about options cases-but not about McAfee specifically- ex-federal prosecutor Jeffrey Bornstein said the government “is in part motivated by how things are perceived publicly. So there is this motivation to have a joint press conference.” Bornstein, who left the San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office in 2005 to join Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis, said there’s often concern within the SEC that, if its civil charges follow on the tail of the indictment, they’ll be ignored by the public. “From the defense perspective, it’s so they get the maximum prejudicial publicity that they can,” he said. History of problems McAfee has a rich history of legal problems. The company’s former chief financial officer was charged in 2004 with scheming to inflate revenues, and faces a criminal trial in March. And early last year, McAfee agreed to pay a $50 million fine to the SEC for manipulating its books. The latter case was investigated by a team of SEC lawyers based in Washington-a sore point for local SEC lawyers, said people familiar with the situation-and they continued to probe the company when its options problems came to light. Reached last week, one of the Washington lawyers, Paul Lane, said he’s not permitted to speak to the press. But others familiar with the case said the D.C. team coordinated closely with the San Francisco U.S. attorney’s office in the early stages of the investigation. And-as The Recorder, an affiliate of The National Law Journal, first reported in December 2006-prosecutors concluded last fall that there was enough evidence to move forward with an indictment of Roberts, even as they continued their investigation of other aspects of the company’s options issues.

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