Legal Briefing: Bank Exec Charged with TARP Fraud


A daily look at legal news and the business of law:

Bank Executive Allegedly Lied on TARP Application

Park Avenue Bank of New York City failed last week, the 28th bank to fail this year. Its former chief executive, Charles Antonucci, is accused of looting the bank on behalf of himself and an accomplice. Antonucci also tried to fleece the government, applying for $11 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program for his bank, while lying about the bank's capitalization. To support the application, he claimed to have invested $6.5 million of his own money but, instead, it appears he just took $6.5 million from the bank, funneled it through his own accounts, and then gave it back.

Judge Fines Wells Fargo for Bad Behavior in a Foreclosure

Since 2007 Wells Fargo (WFC) has been foreclosing on Steven Tyson's house in Greenlawn, N.Y. Last November the bank changed the locks on Tyson, although it had no right to do so. The bank gave him a key, but a month later, changed the locks again. This time Tyson caught the bank employees in the act and confronted them. The next day, he came home to find his garage door wide open and nearly $5,000 of stuff missing. What seems to have made the judge really mad, however, was the witness Wells Fargo sent to court, who claimed the was charged by Wells Fargo to inspect the property, only to find it unlocked when he arrived. After the judge questioned him, it turned out the witness had not been to the property and had no knowledge of what happened. Calling the testimony just "self-serving statements," the judge ordered Wells Fargo to pay Tyson $5,000 restitution and $150,000 in punitive damages.

And in the Business of Law...

Kathleen Sullivan becomes the first woman to make name partner at a top 100 law firm: Quinn, Emanuel, Urquhart & Sullivan.

Davis Polk had a great 2009; revenue was up 7%, revenue per lawyer up 1% -- even though its headcount grew by 5% -- and profits per partner were up 10%. Sullivan & Cromwell did not fare nearly as well, eking out a flat 2009, while at Cleary Gottlieb revenues were flat and profits per partner down by 8%. These relative numbers don't tell the whole story, however; in terms of who made how much, Sullivan partners took home almost $3 million each, Cleary partners about $2.2 million, and Davis Polk partners an average of about $2.1 million. Meanwhile, Strook & Strook & Lavan had its second straight down year.

And law firm layoffs are resuming. Last week firms shed 30 partners (Howrey) and 15 associates (McDermott, Will & Emery) and 30 staff (Dewey & LeBoeuf).