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When a former New York paralegal was accused by the FBI of trying to sell a confidential trial-planning document for $2 million, it seemed that the lawyers on both sides of the case were falling over themselves to do the right thing. Both the plaintiff and the defense teams reported the alleged theft and then worked with the FBI in a sting operation that led to the arrest of Said Farraj, a 27-year-old law student. He worked last summer as a temporary paralegal in the New York office of San Francisco’s Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Farraj is charged with conspiracy and interstate transportation of stolen property in the alleged theft and attempted sale of a 400-page document taken from Orrick’s multibillion-dollar case against the tobacco industry. (Orrick represents the trustees of the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, which is trying to recoup some of what it has paid in asbestos claims.) So, after the fact, the lawyers have acquitted themselves. But how did a temp paralegal get his hands on such a sensitive document in the first place? Paralegals are typically given access to many of the documents of their assigned cases, an Orrick lawyer says, because, “it’s how you operate efficiently.” Farraj would have had to type in an elaborate series of codes and passwords to access the trial plan. “Of course,” the lawyer adds, “we don’t turn over our computer system to just anybody.” Farraj came to the firm through Legal Assistance Corp., where a spokeswoman says the New York agency screens its candidates. “It’s a very thorough process,” she says. “Nothing could have been done.” Farraj has not yet entered a plea, and his lawyer, Lawrence Ruggiero, did not return phone calls. But lawyers in the tobacco litigation and federal authorities, in the complaint, gave this account: The FBI got involved in June when several defense lawyers in Falise v. American Tobacco Co. received an e-mail from “[email protected]” Attached to the e-mail was a summary of the documents in Orrick’s case, and an offer to sell the rest of the summary to the defense lawyers. R. Dal Burton of the Atlanta office of Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, a defense lawyer representing R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, was the first to call Peter Bicks, one of the lead plaintiffs lawyers at Orrick, to alert him. Lawyers at Orrick immediately contacted the U.S. attorney’s office, which, in turn, called in the FBI. Orrick lawyers also discussed the situation with the federal magistrate judge presiding over the case, Steven Gold, and sent a letter to all defense attorneys involved explaining the situation. Coincidentally, the day after Flyguy sent his e-mail, Alan Kraus of Morristown, New Jersey’s Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland & Perretti, another lawyer defending R.J. Reynolds in Falise, happened to be at Orrick defending a deposition. While he was there, FBI agents asked him if they could use him in their sting operation. Kraus says that FBI special agent Trenton Schmatz went to Morristown and, while posing as Kraus, used his computer to reply to Flyguy’s e-mail and express interest in purchasing the stolen document. After several e-mail exchanges between Flyguy and Schmatz-as-Kraus, a meeting was arranged for July 21. On that day, Flyguy’s “representative,” his brother Yeazid Farraj, went to a McDonald’s restaurant on lower Broadway — allegedly to collect $2 million in exchange for the trial plan. Instead of meeting Kraus, though, Yeazid met an undercover FBI agent, and the Farraj brothers were soon arrested. Any second thoughts at Orrick about the wisdom of exposing such documents on its network? A lawyer at the firm says, “Everyone has their own way of mapping out cases,” and attributes this document’s bulkiness to the “abundance of material against tobacco companies [that is] publicly available.” In the end, it seems they’re stuck with having to rely on that old-fashioned thing called trust.

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