Despite his felony conviction, attorneys for Evan Greebel, the former law firm partner who once advised ex-pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, are urging a judge to impose no jail sentence, arguing probation is sufficient.
In a sentencing memorandum this week, Greebel’s attorneys at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher attached about 180 letters from family, friends and former colleagues, including those at Katten Muchin & Rosenman and Kaye Scholer, all asking U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto for leniency.
Greebel, who is due to be sentenced Aug. 9 in Brooklyn federal court, was convicted in December of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, while advising Shkreli, who was found guilty of securities fraud in a separate trial last year. Shkreli was sentenced to seven years.
Prosecutors said Shkreli, the former CEO of Retrophin Inc., and Greebel, former outside counsel to the company, schemed to defraud Retrophin by using its assets to pay off Shkreli’s debts through sham settlement and consulting agreements.
Greebel faces a maximum of 20 years in prison. While Greebel’s attorneys said the total offense level under sentencing guidelines would result “in an advisory guidelines range of 24 to 30 months … there is absolutely no question that any role Evan played in the conduct at issue was far less significant and far less involved than Martin Shkreli’s, and a minor role reduction for Evan is thus highly warranted.”
They argued that “a sentence of probation is more than sufficient to comply with the purposes of sentencing,” and “sentencing him to a period of incarceration would harm his wife and children, to whom he has dedicated his life.”
Throughout the 72-page sentencing memorandum, Gibson Dunn explained Greebel’s community service and charitable events and the foundations of his career, including an associate position at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson.
As a partner at Katten Muchin and then at Kaye Scholer, Greebel developed a reputation for having “standards [that] were the highest and beyond reproach,” according to Gibson Dunn, citing letters of support.
‘Encounter With the Devil’
Those urging for leniency include his former law firm partners Elan Keller, now a tax partner at Reed Smith; David Hertzog, now president of Sprague Group, a legal and financial consulting company; Murray Schwartz, now a partner at Warshaw Burstein and a former village justice in New York; and Kenneth Noble, now a partner at McGuireWoods.
“Evan Greebel had a terrible encounter with the devil incarnate and sadly the devil often wins,” Schwartz wrote, apparently referring to Greebel’s ties to Shkreli. “As a sitting judge, I used to divide mentally those defendants who would hurt someone from those that would not. Evan will not hurt a soul.”
Keller, in his own letter, explained that Greebel turned down a prospective client proposing a tax structure that wouldn’t pass muster. “Evan showed professional responsibility and integrity (and a lack of disappointment) even when faced with losing out on getting credit and attribution for substantial fees from a prospective client,” Keller said.
“I know well the pressures to perform in the setting of a large private law firm,” said Foster, who was a summer associate with Greebel at Fried Frank. “We have to trust that our partners in specialized practice areas are giving sound guidance. … And, most importantly we need to trust our clients to give us accurate information and conduct themselves in accordance with the standards of basic decency. Evan’s client apparently failed on every count, and the resulting fiasco swept Evan up into this case.”
Former clients also pleaded the judge for leniency, including Jason Auerbach, a residential mortgage banker, who said his bank was “especially proud to work with Evan due to his honesty and forthrightness.”
The letters include dozens from former colleagues, friends and family members, including his father-in-law, Niles Citrin, a founder of accounting firm Citrin Cooperman.
A ‘Shattered’ Life
Gibson Dunn, including defense attorneys Reed Brodsky, Winston Chan, Mylan Denerstein and Randy Mastro, argued that a non-prison sentence was merited because Greebel “played a minor role in both of these conspiracies,” he has not personally gained from them and has not been accused of a violent crime.
“Evan has been an exemplary son, husband, father, brother, in-law and member of his community,” his lawyers wrote, detailing various good deeds over the years. “He deserves credit at sentencing for a lifetime of giving.”
From a deterrence perspective, Gibson Dunn argued it wasn’t necessary to incarcerate him to protect the public. “Evan has lost his law license, and his reputation has been destroyed; there is no doubt that his felony conviction alone will adequately deter him from committing any crimes in the future,” his attorneys asserted.
“Evan’s arrest, trial and conviction has shattered his life and career. Evan has lost his law license and reputation, and will be unable to work in the legal world for the remainder of his career,” they wrote.
Indeed, courts in the Second Circuit have recognized that consequences like these amount to “substantial and meaningful punishment” for the lawyers who endure them, Gibson Dunn said.
The defense attorneys outlined examples of ex-lawyers who received little to no prison time, including Robert Schulman, formerly an attorney at Hunton & Williams and Arent Fox, who was convicted of securities fraud but received a non-jail sentence, and Joseph Collins, formerly of Mayer Brown and also convicted of securities fraud. He was sentenced to a year and a day.
Greebel has remained active since his arrest, working to open an in-patient drug and alcohol treatment facility in Masonville and assisting his wife by preparing and delivering food to schools in Westchester and Manhattan, Gibson Dunn said.
“After being sentenced, Evan intends to work as a consultant and help entrepreneurs starting businesses, a new path he has begun investigating over the last few months,” his defense lawyers said.
But unemployed since 2016 and tasked with mounting a defense in a criminal trial, “his financial situation is—and will likely remain—dire,” his attorneys said, noting a presentencing report that said he has “a contingent liability of several million dollars to the insurance company which paid for his legal defense.”