An Eastern District court docket entry shows that Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker has been added as a party to a contempt proceeding involving the alleged dissemination of sealed documents—but the details are sealed. The matter involves Felix Sater, who was convicted of securities fraud in 1998. In exchange for Sater’s cooperation, his file was sealed. Sater was identified as the John Doe from the 1998 case when Long Island attorney Frederick Oberlander attached records from the matter to a complaint in a new fraud case, as well as from seemingly unrelated media efforts and inadvertent disclosures by the U.S. government.
Sater sought a civil contempt finding against Oberlander and his attorney, Richard Lerner, who at the time was a Wilson Elser partner. Judge Brian Cogan (See Profile) referred the matter to the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s Office for a criminal contempt investigation. Wilson Elser and Lerner had a falling out over whether to withdraw its representation of Oberlander—the firm wanted to withdraw and Lerner did not—and Lerner recently left the firm.
Now, Wilson Elser, which was not previously included in the contempt action but claimed in its motion to withdraw that it oversaw Lerner’s handling of the case, has been added as a party to the civil contempt proceedings, according to a docket report posted yesterday in Doe v. Roe, 12-mc-00557. All of the related documents, however, remain under seal.
Additionally, Cogan has directed Northern District assistant U.S. attorneys Stephen Green and Steven Clymer to submit a report on the status of the “Government’s investigation of possible criminal contempt committed in connection with this matter” by Oct. 22.