Ex-DOJ lawyer tried to sell sealed lawsuit documents
A former Justice Department prosecutor sought to sell sealed lawsuits brought by whistleblowers to the targets of pending investigations, according to a Washington Post report.
The lawyer, Jeffrey Wertkin, gathered up the documents before he left the Justice Department in April 2016. He then went to work for an influential D.C. law firm, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where he hoped to drum up clients by offering to sell the sealed complaints and his services to defend against them.
Wertkin was arrested last January, after being caught trying to sell a sealed federal lawsuit to a Silicon Valley tech company for $310,000, the Post reported.
How Wertkin was able to get a hold of complaints for cases that he was not assigned to while he was at the Justice Department remains unclear.
He has pleaded guilty to charges of obstructing justice and transporting stolen property. As part of his plea agreement, Wertkin has promised to speak with Justice Department supervisors about how he was able to get away with the sealed documents.
According to the Post, Wertkin said in a court hearing that he was aware that stealing the documents was illegal and acknowledged that he intentionally lied to the Justice Department about taking the complaints with him when he left.
In his plea agreement, Wertkin admitted that he stole the sealed complaints because he thought they would help him drum up clients at his new job.
“I began secretly reviewing and collecting complaints to identify clients to solicit for business when I was in practice and, thereby, to make myself more successful at Akin Gump,” the plea agreement reads, according to the Post.
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