Three former top executives of Dewey & LeBoeuf law firm were charged with fraud and theft for concealing from banks, investors and other lawyers the deteriorating health of the once prestigious firm before it went bankrupt in 2012.
Thursday's criminal charges were announced by Manhattan prosecutors less than two years after Dewey, which once had more than 1,400 lawyers worldwide, became the largest U.S. law firm to seek bankruptcy protection. It later shut down.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. accused the former executives of "concocting and overseeing a massive effort to cook the books" at the law firm. "Fraud is not an acceptable accounting practice," Vance said.
Vance unveiled grand larceny, fraud and other felony charges against former chairman Steven Davis, 60, former executive director Stephen DiCarmine, 57, and former chief financial officer Joel Sanders, 55. A fourth defendant, client relations manager Zachary Warren, 29, was also criminally charged.
Elkan Abramowitz, a lawyer for Davis, said evidence will show his client did not commit a crime, and that Davis' actions as Dewey's chairman "were taken in good faith in an effort to make the firm a success."
Lawyers for the other defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment or could not immediately be reached.
Dewey & LeBoeuf had been formed in a 2007 merger of two law firms, Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae.