Connolly’s Cartel Capers: Whatever Happened to…Mark Whitacre?


Mark Whitacre was the former Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) executive who blew the whistle on the international lysine price-fixing conspiracy of the early 1990’s. He is the highest ranking Fortune 500 executive to become an FBI whistleblower.  Whitacre’s actions launched the age of international price-fixing prosecutions that dominate cartel enforcement to this day. Mr. Whitacre has written an essay, “When Good Leaders Lose Their Way,” 45 Loy. U. Chi. L.J. 525 (2014), that recounts how he became involved in the conspiracy; why he decided to confess to the FBI; his two year saga as an FBI uncover operative across the globe; his decision to embezzle $9.5 million from ADM (his “self-help” severance pay); his resulting ten-year prison sentence; and how he landed on his feet today as the COO of a biotech company with his family intact.  Whitacre’s journey illustrates how a serious antitrust and ethics compliance program may have prevented a journey of  misery for him and his company.  

Whitacre got involved in the lysine cartel because of tunnel vision focus on short-term profit driven by the lure of stock options and other financial benefits and trappings of life at the top. His wife, who noticed the changes in Whitacre and his material focus, became the impetus for him to turn himself in to the FBI. For two years Whitacre reported to work as a loyal executive of ADM, all the while equipped with recording devices to “get the goods” on his superiors and co-workers. By his account, after two years of this double life he made some extraordinarily bad decisions to try secure his financial future.  He embezzled almost $10 million from ADM and was caught. He compounded this mistake by turning down what his lawyer called the “deal of a lifetime” and a possible 6 month sentence, which was supported by FBI agents with whom he had worked. He ended up serving 8 years and 8 months in federal prison. Upon his release, however, he has been able to resume a successful career as the CEO of a biotech company fueled by an entirely new set of principles. Whitacre has his own web page, Website of Mark Whitacre This web site contains, among other things, interviews of FBI agents who handled Whitacre during his two years of undercover activity. To read more about the actual workings of the lysine cartel, see: “The Fly On The Wall Has Been Bugged– Catching An International Cartel In The Act,” speech by  Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Criminal Enforcement, Antitrust Division, May 15, 2001. Copies of the lysine tapes and transcripts are available at no charge by mailing or faxing (202/616-4529) your request to the United States Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Freedom of Information Act Unit, Liberty Square Building, 450 Fifth Street, NW, Suite 3200, Washington, 20530
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Patricia Davis, former Assistant Director, Fraud Section, Civil Division, joins GeyerGorey LLP

Sweet Lime Portrait Design, Family Photography, Baby Photography, Maternity Photography
Patricia Davis, a twenty-year veteran of the Department of Justice, has joined GeyerGorey LLP as of counsel.  She previously served as Assistant Director, Fraud Section, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice, where she was responsible for investigating and prosecuting hundreds of cases involving fraud on government healthcare, procurement and grant/loan programs.  Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Davis was Deputy Counsel to the Inspector General at the General Services Administration.  She is the eleventh former DOJ prosecutor to join the boutique law firm in less than a year.

(See the firm’s Representative Matters by clicking here [this is not a comprehensive list and does not yet incorporate any of Ms. Davis’s experience])

 “The scope and breadth of Pat’s experience is unparalleled.  Much of the Civil Division’s enforcement program focusing on Defense Department contracts and pharmaceuticals rested squarely on her shoulders,” said Brad Geyer, one of the firm’s founding partners.  “We are delighted that Pat has decided to join us.”

Robert Zastrow, who was Verizon’s Assistant General Counsel for 15 years before co-founding the firm in October 2012, added,“ Pat Davis is an excellent addition to our corporate compliance and white collar practice.”

 “I believe that Pat brings our firm to a new level in terms of our ability to get cases placed appropriately and to enhance the chances that our qui tam (False Claims Act) cases will be adopted by the government,” said Hays Gorey, a firm co-founder.  “With Pat’s terrific background and deep legal knowledge, we are uniquely positioned to develop cases so that they are ready, when filed, to be transitioned immediately to the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.”

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas, GeyerGorey LLP specializes in white collar criminal defense, particularly investigations and cases involving allegations of economic crimes, including violations of the federal antitrust laws (price fixing, bid rigging, territorial and customer allocation agreements), the procurement and grant fraud statutes, the securities laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act and other whistleblower actions.  The firm also conducts internal investigations of possible criminal conduct and provides advice regarding compliance with antitrust, anti-bribery and other laws and regulations, in addition to advising on voluntary and mandatory disclosure issues. For further information, please call Patricia Davis at (202) 559-1456 or email

“Upstart Start-Up” GeyerGorey LLP Opens Dallas Office

“Rocketing from two to eleven attorneys in eight months, GeyerGorey LLP sports over 200 years of cross-disciplinary prosecutorial experience involving a host of domestic and international industries where each of its attorneys has worked on internal investigations and high stakes cases for an average of more than 20 years.”

For more, click the link below:


Owner of New York Construction Company Indicted for Tax Fraud

The Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that Tomas Olazabal, of Fresh Meadows, N.Y., was arrested today following his indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Aug. 8, 2013, on multiple tax crimes.

According to the indictment, Olazabal owned Tupac Construction Corp., a construction company in Fresh Meadows.  As alleged in the indictment, Olazabal used check cashing services to cash a substantial number of checks paid to his construction company for services between 2007 and 2008.  He concealed his check cashing activities from his tax return preparers.  Accordingly, the gross receipts represented by the checks negotiated at the check cashers were not included as gross receipts on the company’s tax returns.

The indictment alleges that Olazabal filed false 2007 and 2008 corporate income tax returns for Tupac. Olazabal faces a potential maximum sentence of six years in prison and a potential fine of up to $500,000.

A trial date has not been scheduled.  An indictment merely alleges that a crime has been committed, and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by IRS – Criminal Investigation and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Mark Kotila and Steve Descano of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.

Phillip Zane’s Game Theory: Ten Years On

Ten years ago this spring, Zane published his definitive work on game theory which changed the way law-and-economics scholars and sophisticated prosecutors and defense counsel analyze whether, when, and how corporations and executive management teams should disclose white collar criminal conduct.

Phillip Zane be the only attorney whose colleagues and clients might expect to see an open book on games and strategy on his desk.

Ten years ago this spring, Zane published The Price Fixer’s Dilemma:  Applying Game Theory to the Decision of Whether to Plead Guilty to Antitrust Crimes, 48 Antitrust Bull. 1 (2003), which changed the way law-and-economics scholars and sophisticated prosecutors and defense counsel analyze whether, and when, to settle high-stakes antitrust cases.

Zane’s article strongly suggested that in a number of common situations, pleading guilty (or even seeking the protections of the corporate leniency program) is not always justified.  Zane’s article used a repeated, or iterative, version of the prisoner’s dilemma to demonstrate that pleading guilty was not always the best strategy for antitrust defendants facing criminal prosecution and civil liability in multiple proceedings or jurisdictions.

At the time, a few of the brainier Antitrust Division prosecutors breathed a sigh of relief when the defense bar did not seem to notice and they failed to incorporate Zane’s research into their negotiating strategies.

In 2007, Zane published “An Introduction to Game Theory for Antitrust Lawyers,” which he used in a unit of an antitrust class he taught at George Mason University School of Law. That paper was another milestone on the way to making game theory concepts accessible and useful to the antitrust defense bar.

Zane’s work, which now used game theory to criticize the settlement of the second Microsoft case and the Government’s approach to conscious parallelism, as well as the leniency program, was met with official grumblings within the Antitrust Division.

GeyerGorey LLP was founded on the principle that the chances for achieving the best possible outcome are maximized by having access to multiple, top-notch, cross-disciplinary legal minds that are synced together by an organizational and compensation structure that encourages sharing of ideas and information in client relationships.

As international enforcement agencies sprouted and developed criminal capabilities and as more hybrid matters included prosecutors from US enforcement agency components with sometimes overlapping jurisdictions, such as the Antitrust, Criminal, Civil and Tax Divisions of the Department of Justice, and the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, particularly the Securities and Exchange Commission, it became apparent that Zane’s game-theoretic approach has application in almost every significant decision we could be called upon to make.  Since Zane has joined us we have been working to factor in the increased risks associated with what we call hybrid conduct (conduct that violates more than a single statute).  Our tools of analysis for identifying risks for violations of competition laws, anti-corruption laws, anti-money-laundering laws, and other prohibitions, include sophisticated game-theoretic techniques, as well as, of course, the noses of former seasoned prosecutors, taking into account, each particular client’s tolerance for risk.

To take one example, an internal investigation might show both possible price fixing and bribery of foreign government officials.  How, given the potential for multiple prosecutions, should decisions to defend or cooperate be assessed?  And how might such decisions trigger interest by the Tax Division, the SEC, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or other regulators.  When should a corporation launch an internal investigation?  When should it make a mandatory disclosure?  What should it disclose and to which agency, in what order?  When should it seek leniency and when should it instead stand silent?  These tools are valuable in the civil context as well:  When should it abandon a proposed merger or instead oppose an enforcement agency’s challenge to a proposed deal?

These are truly the most difficult questions a lawyer advising large corporations is required to address.  We are well positioned to help answer these questions.

DLA Piper’s Robert Connolly pens MLEX article regarding “The DOJ Antitrust Division’s policy on independent compliance monitors: is it misguided?”

Friend of the Firm, Robert Connolly, former Chief of the Philadelphia Field Office of the Antitrust Division of the US Department of Justice, now resident in DLA Piper’s Philadelphia Office last week penned an important contribution for MLEX regarding DOJ’s evolving policy regarding compliance monitors:  “The DOJ Antitrust Divsion’s policy on independent compliance monitors: is it misguided?”


Halliburton Pleads Guilty: New York Times (Interesting Tea Leaves)

Important details about Halliburton Plea (raises very interesting questions for anyone who reads tea leaves).  Could this be sideways referral to Antitrust Division?:

Halliburton Pleads Guilty to Destroying Evidence After Gulf Spill

Halliburton Agrees to Plead Guilty to Destruction of Evidence in Connection with Deepwater Horizon Tragedy Third Corporate Guilty Plea Obtained by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force

Halliburton Energy Services Inc. has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence in connection with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Department of Justice announced today.  A criminal information charging Halliburton with one count of destruction of evidence was filed today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Halliburton has signed a cooperation and guilty plea agreement with the government in which Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty and admit its criminal conduct.  As part of the plea agreement, Halliburton has further agreed, subject to the court’s approval, to pay the maximum-available statutory fine, to be subject to three years of probation and to continue its cooperation in the government’s ongoing criminal investigation.  Separately, Halliburton made a voluntary contribution of $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation that was not conditioned on the court’s acceptance of its plea agreement.

According to court documents, on April 20, 2010, while stationed at the Macondo well site in the Gulf of Mexico, the Deepwater Horizon rig experienced an uncontrolled blowout and related explosions and fire, which resulted in the deaths of 11 rig workers and the largest oil spill in U.S. history.  Following the blowout, Halliburton conducted its own review of various technical aspects of the well’s design and construction.  On or about May 3, 2010, Halliburton established an internal working group to examine the Macondo well blowout, including whether the number of centralizers used on the final production casing could have contributed to the blowout.  A production casing is a long, heavy metal pipe set across the area of the oil and natural gas reservoir.  Centralizers are protruding metal collars affixed at various intervals on the outside of the casing.  Use of centralizers can help keep the casing centered in the wellbore away from the surrounding walls as it is lowered and placed in the well.  Centralization can be significant to the quality of subsequent cementing around the bottom of the casing.  Prior to the blowout, Halliburton had recommended to BP the use of 21 centralizers in the Macondo well.  BP opted to use six centralizers instead.

As detailed in the information, in connection with its own internal post-incident examination of the well, in or about May 2010, Halliburton, through its Cementing Technology Director, directed a Senior Program Manager for the Cement Product Line (Program Manager) to run two computer simulations of the Macondo well final cementing job using Halliburton’s Displace 3D simulation program to compare the impact of using six versus 21 centralizers.  Displace 3D was a next-generation simulation program that was being developed to model fluid interfaces and their movement through the wellbore and annulus of a well.  These simulations indicated that there was little difference between using six and 21 centralizers.  Program Manager was directed to, and did, destroy these results.

In or about June 2010, similar evidence was also destroyed in a later incident.  Halliburton’s Cementing Technology Director asked another, more experienced, employee (“Employee 1”) to run simulations again comparing six versus 21 centralizers.  Employee 1 reached the same conclusion and, like Program Manager before him, was then directed to “get rid of” the simulations.

Efforts to forensically recover the original destroyed Displace 3D computer simulations during ensuing civil litigation and federal criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force were unsuccessful.

In agreeing to plead guilty, Halliburton has accepted criminal responsibility for destroying the aforementioned evidence.

The guilty plea agreement and criminal charge announced today are part of the ongoing criminal investigation by the Deepwater Horizon Task Force into matters related to the April 2010 Gulf oil spill.  The Deepwater Horizon Task Force, based in New Orleans, is supervised by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman and led by John D. Buretta, who serves as the director of the task force.  The task force includes prosecutors from the Criminal Division and the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana and other U.S. Attorney’s Offices; and investigating agents from:  the FBI; Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General; Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office of Law Enforcement; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The case is being prosecuted by Deepwater Horizon Task Force Director John D. Buretta, Deputy Directors Derek A. Cohen and Avi Gesser, and task force prosecutors Richard R. Pickens II, Scott M. Cullen, Colin Black and Rohan Virginkar.

An information is merely a charge and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.