While there may be few people left in Dewey & LeBoeuf‘s 1301 Avenue of the Americas headquarters, a criminal investigation launched by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office into the actions of the rapidly vanishing firm’s ex-chairman is moving ahead.
Partners still with Dewey as of May 10 received an e-mail telling them to retain all documents in their possession related to a variety of Dewey’s business practices, according to three partners who received the e-mail. The so-called document preservation notice, sent by Dewey assistant general counsel Esther Bloustein, said the request was being relayed “in connection with” the D.A.’s probe of former chairman Steven Davis, who has denied any wrongdoing.
In the e-mail, partners were asked to save documents connected to guaranteed payments, partner compensation, capital or other contributions, borrowing or other forms of indebtedness, meetings of the executive committee or office of the chairman, and financial statements, sibling publication New York Law Journal reports. After the e-mail went out, one partner who received it says several people hit “reply all” to the chain to send updates on what documents they did and didn’t have related to the request.
Bloustein and Dewey general counsel Janis Meyer did not respond to requests for comment.
Dewey first informed partners about the criminal investigation—about which the D.A.’s office has declined to comment—on April 27 in the wake of media reports that the probe was under way. Two days later, Dewey partners were told that Davis had been removed from the recently formed office of the chairman.
At the time it acknowledged the criminal probe’s existence, Dewey management asked two partners, Harvey Kurzweil and Seth Farber, to act as counsel to the firm as it conducted its own internal inquiry.
Kurzweil and Farber, who were with legacy firm Dewey Ballantine before the 2007 merger with LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae that created Dewey & LeBeouf, joined Winston & Strawn last week. Two sources familiar with the internal investigation that the pair were leading told The Am Law Daily Wednesday that the inquiry never went far and ceased completely upon their departure. (Farber and Kurzweil did not immediately respond to calls placed to them at both Dewey and Winston Wednesday.)
Sources with knowledge of the criminal probe tell The Am Law Daily that Daniel Alonso, a former Kaye Scholer litigation partner who left the firm in 2010 to serve as chief assistant district attorney to then–newly elected Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., is involved in the investigation.
Alonso—who, according to the D.A. office’s Web site, “oversees all aspects of the Office’s work and acts in the district attorney’s place when he is absent”—referred questions to D.A. spokeswoman Erin Duggan. Duggan declined to comment.
Alonso, it turns out, has something of an affinity for one of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s late name partners: Thomas Dewey, the Manhattan D.A. from 1938 to 1941, New York governor from 1943 to 1954, and a two-time Republican presidential candidate.
Alonso was the driving force behind the creation of a medal that bears Dewey’s name and is given out annually by the New York City Bar Association to honor the city’s best assistant district attorneys, according to a 2005 story by the New York Law Journal.
Alonso, who was at Kaye Scholer at the time, served as keynote speaker at the bar association’s first presentation of the Thomas E. Dewey Medal on November 29, 2005. The event’s moderator: Farber, who was then at Dewey Ballantine.
Brian Baxter contributed reporting.