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Legal Complaints Against Bharara and Others Detail DOJ Misconduct; Attorneys for Billy Walters Request Official Investigations

— November 30, 2020

Letters sent to Barr, Wray and disciplinary authorities at NY, MA bar associations.

A group of former U.S. Justice Department officials led by Preet Bharara, now a CNN senior legal analyst and contender for a high-level Biden administration appointment, should be investigated and held accountable for their misconduct in high-profile prosecutions during the last decade, according to a series of letters sent today on behalf of investor and retired sports better, Billy Walters.

The requests for investigations were sent to Attorney General William Barr, FBI Director Christopher Wray and state bar authorities in New York and Massachusetts. In the letters, attorneys for Walters document criminal wrongdoing and an attempted cover-up during the government’s investigation and prosecution of Walters for insider trading in 2017. Walters is serving a five-year sentence while none of the government prosecutors or FBI agents involved have been punished for their actions.

Last month, Walters filed a civil lawsuit in a New York federal court against six former Justice Department officials. The lawsuit details a pattern of illegal leaks of secret grand jury information by former FBI Supervisory Agent David Chaves and efforts by Bharara to cover up the leaks while serving as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. On the eve of an evidentiary hearing requested by Walters’ legal team, the government admitted that Chaves was the source of the leaks. Evidence in the case shows that Bharara had knowledge of the FBI leaks for at least two years prior to the evidentiary hearing but did nothing and then engaged in a coverup.

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“These letters outline behavior that should not be tolerated or rewarded in this country,’’ said Pierce O’Donnell, a senior partner at Greenberg, Glusker of Los Angeles who filed the lawsuit. “Something needs to be done when the people charged with enforcing the laws of our nation actually participate in breaking them. This is especially true for members of the bar who are rightly held to the highest ethical standards.’’

The four letters describe the wrongdoing by federal law enforcement officials and their attempted cover-up. The letters are available here. Here is a brief summary.

  • A request to U.S. Attorney General Barr to investigate the misconduct of Bharara and others as well as the failure by the DOJ to “recommend that any criminal or disciplinary action be undertaken.’’ The letter asks Barr to publicly report the results of his findings.
  • A request to FBI Director Christopher Wray to investigate the misconduct of Chaves. “This letter,’’ O’Donnell writes, “deals particularly with the intentional leaking of confidential investigative and secret grand jury information by federal law enforcement officers, the cover-up of that misconduct by those leakers’ superiors, and the failure to hold any of these officials accountable for this misconduct.’’ The letter notes that FBI leaks “have become an epidemic.’’
  • A formal complaint against Bharara to the Attorney Grievance Committee of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division details Bharara’s cover-up of a federal crime and discloses the false pleadings filed with the federal court by Bharara’s office. The complaint requests that the AGC investigate Bharara and the Supreme Court discipline him. Barr is a licensed member of the New York state bar in good standing.
  • A formal complaint against Chaves to the Board of Bar Overseers in Massachusetts details a series of illegal leaks in the Walters prosecution and six other cases. It notes that after admitting the leaks, Chaves hired a defense lawyer and invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. “To put it simply,’’ the complaint notes, “David Chaves profited handsomely from his flagrant violations of the law and of his ethical obligations as an attorney. His illegal treatment of Walters appears to be just the tip of the iceberg in Chaves’ disregard for the law and the rights of others.’’ Chaves is a licensed member of the Massachusetts state bar in good standing.

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