Zachary Warren (NYLJ/Rick Kopstein)
Zachary Warren, the 29-year-old former client relations manager at Dewey & LeBoeuf who was indicted alongside three of the firm’s top leaders, is seeking to separate his case from the others, arguing there is an unacceptable risk of “guilt by association” at trial.
“The massive trial envisioned by the People is one in which literally scores of witnesses will testify who never met Mr. Warren, never corresponded with him and may not even remember his brief tenure at the firm,” his attorneys said in court papers filed Tuesday. “The People’s case promises to drag on for months, while counsel for Mr. Warren await the opportunity to cross-examine the handful of witnesses who actually worked with, and remember, him.”
Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office last month said their case at trial would take four to six months. Supreme Court Justice Robert Stolz is aiming for a January 2015 trial.
But Warren’s lawyers said if he were tried separately, his trial would take no more than two weeks and they would be prepared in October if their severance motion was granted. Warren is represented by Zuckerman Spaeder partners Paul Shechtman, William Murphy and Martin Himeles Jr.
Warren was initially named in two indictments, one in which he was a sole defendant, and another 106-count indictment alongside ex-firm chairman Steven Davis, former executive director Stephen DiCarmine and ex-CFO Joel Sanders.
His attorneys noted that he is charged with only two of the 106 counts.
Prosecutors claim that Warren helped plan the fraudulent accounting entries and took part in covering them up. Stolz allowed prosecutors to consolidate the indictments.
Warren became client relations manager in 2008 and left in mid-July 2009 to attend Georgetown University Law Center, graduating in May 2012. He is now a clerk at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Warren’s attorneys argued that, if forced to stand trial with Davis, DiCarmine and Sanders, Warren would be unduly prejudiced by the presentation of “confusing and inflammatory evidence” related to alleged offenses that took place after he left Dewey.
His attorneys said the jury would likely become confused and unable to differentiate between the evidence against Warren and evidence admissible only against his codefendants. The bulk of evidence will relate to “scores of alleged criminal acts that the People acknowledge have nothing to do with Mr. Warren and which occurred well after he had left Dewey,” they argued.
“There is a substantial likelihood that a jury’s reaction to this inevitable confusion would be to resort to ‘guilt by association’ rather than the careful consideration” of relevant evidence, they said.
A joint trial would deprive Warren of “anything remotely resembling a speedy trial that would allow him to demonstrate his innocence and resume his promising legal career,” they said.
“Whatever the merit of the allegations of fraudulent acts by others, Mr. Warren was not part of any scheme or conspiracy, and he did not have any role in the alleged fraudulent falsification of Dewey & LeBoeuf’s business records,” his attorneys argued.
Zuckerman Spaeder is also representing John Altorelli, a former Dewey executive committee member who will likely be a prosecution witness at trial. Altorelli is now a partner at DLA Piper in New York.
Warren confirmed he understood the nature of a potential conflict and agreed to waive the issue, saying he understood that his Zuckerman lawyers would not cross-examine Altorelli if he was a witness and would not advance a defense that is adverse to Altorelli.
Shechtman said in an interview, “This is an easy decision for us, because as we understand it, Mr. Altorelli has no adverse information about Mr. Warren and Mr. Altorelli himself has done absolutely nothing wrong.”
Counsel for the other defendants told Stolz and Assistant District Attorney Peirce Moser they would be ready to file defense motions this summer after examining voluminous documents.
Elkan Abramowitz, a partner at Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello, appeared for Davis; Bryan Cave partner Austin Campriello appeared for DiCarmine; and Marc Weinstein, a partner with Hughes Hubbard & Reed, appeared for Sanders.