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Faced with overwhelming evidence of his misconduct in a witness-payment scandal, former federal prosecutor G. Paul Howes has admitted to violations of six ethics rules. Responding to charges filed last month by D.C. Bar Counsel, Howes admits he made a false statement to a tribunal, intentionally failed to disclose required discovery to the defense, and engaged in conduct involving “dishonesty or misrepresentation” and conduct that “seriously interfered with the administration of justice.” In a stipulation with Bar Counsel released last week, Howes, who served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the District in the 1990s, denies that he committed criminal acts or offered unlawful inducements to witnesses. Both Bar Counsel and a 1998 Justice Department probe found that Howes disbursed more than $140,000 in federal witness vouchers to 132 people during the Newton Street gang trial and another murder trial, making improper payments to witnesses, friends and relatives of witnesses, and former police officers. Howes is scheduled for an April 11 hearing before the Board on Professional Responsibility, which could recommend sanctions including disbarment. Howes, now a partner in the San Diego office of Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, and his defense attorney, Plato Cacheris, would not comment last week on his case. But Howes’ response to the charges states that the U.S. Attorney’s Office did not have a clear policy on witness-voucher payments at the time and that he “was continually in trial for approximately 18 months with minimal support, assistance, or supervision.” Cacheris, who has represented Monica Lewinsky and FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen, is leading a high-profile defense team, including John Hundley and Barry Coburn from his firm, Trout Cacheris, and Steven Tabackman from Tighe Patton Armstrong Teasdale, who also used to be a federal prosecutor in the District.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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