Jeffrey Wertkin’s get-rich-quick scheme failed miserably after he was arrested for delivering a sealed whistleblower complaint to an undercover FBI agent.
Get-rich-quick schemes don’t usually pan out, and it goes without saying that one should consider all of the consequences of participating if he or she has a lot to lose — like a respectable position on the right side of the law. After working so hard to obtain such a status, it just doesn’t pay to switch sides. Attorney Jeffrey Wertkin learned this the hard way. Partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld since April 2016, Wertkin joined the group from the U.S. Justice Department where he worked in the civil division’s commercial litigation branch. He was described as “by the book”, although maybe not the most well liked individual. He was an experienced False Claims Act lawyer who had worked on health care fraud investigations, apparently having tackled some high profile cases.
Last week, however, Wertkin attempted to deliver a sealed copy of a whistleblower complaint while wearing a wig and using an alias. The recipient, much to his dismay, was actually an undercover FBI agent, who arrested Wertkin, also known as “Dan”, on the spot. The special agent who discovered the misdeed indicated in Wertkin’s arrest documents “there is probable cause to believe that Jeffrey Wertkin unlawfully sought to sell to the Company a sealed FCA complaint in exchange for $310,000, which constituted disobedience and resistance to a lawful writ, process, order, rule, decree or command of the court in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. 401(3)”.
The federal investigation started after an employee of technology security company being investigated for falsely billing the government told investigators he received a call from “Dan”, who offered to provide a copy of the lawsuit in exchange for what he termed a “consulting fee.” The employee agreed to cooperate with the FBI and record phone calls made between himself and “Dan.” Investigators were able to record Wertkin asking for a get-rich-quick fee of $300,000 in bitcoin, which was later raised to $310,000. Agents hung on the line while the entire arrangement was organized and sent one of their own to meet him for the delivery.
After his arrest in a hotel lobby in Cupertino, California on January 31st, Werktin, who retained attorney Julia Jayne, indicated he believed he was selling the copy to the company being investigated. Wertkin was quoted as saying “my life is over” after being caught red handed in his get-rich-quick scheme, and charged with obstruction of justice and contempt of court. Perhaps his previous professional life is over. Wertkin was immediately fired from the Akin group, where a spokesperson stated, “We are shocked and deeply troubled by the conduct alleged in the charges filed against Mr. Wertkin. Honesty and integrity are at the core of our values and our client relationships. Immediately upon learning of these charges, we took swift action and Mr. Wertkin is no longer with the firm.”
Werktin has since been released from lockup on a $750,000 bond. No word on next steps, or when a trial date is expected to be set. Julia Jayne declined to comment.