Evan Greebel, a former Katten Muchin Rosenman partner convicted of conspiring to commit fraud with pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, has lost his ability to appear before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
The order follows a New York court’s decision in early January to suspend Greebel from practicing law.
In an order Thursday, the SEC suspended Greebel, 45, from appearing or practicing before the commission. The suspension was automatically set off by Greebel’s December 2017 conviction on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud.
The SEC’s order cites the conviction and an 18-month prison sentence handed down in August against Greebel. Prosecutors accused the lawyer of helping former Retrophin Inc. CEO Martin Shkreli improperly use company assets to pay off debts owed to investors in a pair of hedge funds that Shkreli started.
Greebel’s work for Retrophin took place when he was at Katten. By the time of his arrest in December 2015, however, he was practicing law at Kaye Scholer, from which he resigned soon after. In addition to the prison term, Greebel was ordered to pay more than $10.4 million in restitution to Retrophin.
Before Greebel’s conviction in Brooklyn federal court, a separate fraud trial against Shkreli ended with a guilty verdict, and the former pharmaceutical executive received a seven-year prison sentence.
While Thursday’s SEC order suspends Greebel from appearing before the commission, he is allowed under the regulator’s rules to later apply for reinstatement. If he manages to overturn his criminal conviction with an appeal, the SEC would automatically reinstate Greebel.
Contacted for comment Thursday, Reed Brodsky of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, who defended Greebel in the criminal trial, noted that the former Katten partner is challenging his conviction at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
“We believe in Evan’s appeal and hope that the Second Circuit will recognize the jury instructions holding outside lawyers for a public company liable for the CEO’s deceit were flawed and his conviction should be vacated,” Brodsky said in an email.
John Williams of Williams & Connolly is leading Greebel’s appeal.
Although he’s challenging the conviction, Greebel declined to seek bail pending his appeal and agreed to self-report to begin his prison term. In an Aug. 24 letter, his lawyers explained that Greebel made that decision so he could start and finish any prison time as early as possible, and return to life with his wife and three young children.
In the appeal, Greebel’s lawyers have argued that his conviction came after jurors were given a faulty set of instructions and the trial court judge excluded key expert witness testimony.
“The overbroad and unclear instructions given in this case invited the jury to convict Mr. Greebel for conduct that was not a crime,” Greebel’s appellate lawyers wrote to the Second Circuit in a Dec. 21 brief.
Greebel’s jury instruction argument recently received some support from a group of legal ethics and professional responsibility experts who filed an amicus brief Monday.
Without taking a position on Greebel’s guilt or innocence, they argued that the trial court judge was not specific enough when describing the lawyer’s fiduciary duty to disclose information under the attorney-client relationship. The ethics experts wrote that the relevant jury instructions “did not identify to whom the lawyer owes the duty to disclose and did not identify the scope of any such disclosure.”
Greebel has been suspended from practicing law in New York. Issuing the interim suspension Jan. 3, a panel of the Appellate Division, Second Department, wrote that Greebel’s disciplinary proceeding would be put on hold while he serves out his prison term and directs Greebel to inform the court once he’s released.
The order was signed by Justices Alan Scheinkman, William Mastro, Reinaldo Rivera, Mark Dillon and John Leventhal.