It’s being reported by Reuters today that Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO, avowed Lady Gaga fan, and G-Unit extended family member Lloyd Blankfein has recently hired and retained high-profile defensive legal eagle Reid Weingarten to play on his secondary, should the government come after him. And yes, he’s had some famous clients.
Reuters’ information comes from a “government source” who asks:
“Why do you bring in someone like that?” said the source, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “It says one thing: that they’re taking it seriously.” Blankfein has not been charged in any civil or criminal case, and it was not immediately clear why he hired Weingarten.
You’ve heard of Mr. Weingarten, or likely read his name:
- He was the “powerful player” who joined Roman Polanski’s legal team when the notorious film director was jailed in Zurich after a 31-year old warrant for his arrest—stemming from a 1971 case that placed Mr. Polanski having sex with a 13-year old girl—was acted upon.
- One 2005 New York Times piece on Mr. Weingarten called him “folksy,” and characterized his performance in the defense of embattled WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers as “more like a basketball coach than a big-time litigator. He bounces on the balls of his feet, often pointing his glasses for emphasis. And in asking the simplest of questions, he sounds sincere without being condescending.”
- Trivia: Mr. Weingarten is a close friend of current Attorney General Eric G. Holder!
- From a 2002 BusinessWeek profile: “He went to law school with plans to ‘bring peace to this earth.’ Twice, he almost ran off to Africa to prosecute war criminals. And in his spare time, he manages a foundation and a charter school for inner-city teens that he helped found in 1997; up until this year, he taught Western philosophy there as well.”
- He’s charismatic enough to appear on Charlie Rose and wax poetic on the innocence of his clients.
- Quotables: “I’m used to these monstrously difficult cases where everybody hates my clients.”
Yes, this certainly sounds like the kind of candidate the notoriously-smartassed and very embattled Mr. Blankfein could use: he’s defended everyone from Enron to WorldCom to Glaxo fallouts, he’s got a great record, and people seem to genuinely love him. And why might Mr. Blankfein need him?
One former federal prosecutor, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said Blankfein may have hired outside counsel after receiving a request from investigators for documents or other information.
It’s been surmised that Mr. Blankfein would specifically be charged with perjury, if anything. Duly noted: he now has the lawyer to go through it with.
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