Raj Rajaratnam’s Star Prosecutor, Jonathan Streeter: Fence-Jumping Sellout!

Disgraced Galleon Group chief Raj Rajaratnam—better known to the world as “Big Raj” or simply “Raj Raj”—was sent to the slammer for 11 years after being busted for insider trading last year, in what was 2011’s most high-profile financial crime trial. Now one of the guys who helped send him there is moving to greener pastures. “Greener,” as in, he’ll be making exponentially more cash likely defending the guys he used to send to the pen. This is how the world works!

Jonathan Streeter is a Upper West Side-residing 43 year-old lawyer who joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in 2000. He was part of what Business Insider called the “prosecutorial dream team” who took down Big Raj last year, and delivered the opening and closing arguments for the government’s case. In the Wall Street Journal‘s profile of him last year, he was described as “unflappable.” He was also noted in the Journal profile and a New York Post profile as an avid water-skier whose father was a lifer at one of Cleveland’s oldest law firms, where he was raised. He was also a prosecutor in a bunch of other high-profile trials that weren’t Raj Raj’s, which The Observer detailed in a profile of Mr. Streeter last March:

He has won convictions or guilty pleas for executives accused of accounting fraud, traders who cooked the books, money launderers and insurance fraudsters. He successfully argued against Manhattan attorney Marc Dreier, a con man who trafficked in fake securities. He got a conviction against former Ernst & Young partner James Gansman for insider trading, and against former Duane Reade execs Anthony Cuti and William Tennant for padding their quarterly earnings report.

And now, he’ll be defending those same guys. Not the ones he sent to prison, of course. But the ones like them! FIN Alternatives notes:

Streeter is to join law firm Dechert’s litigation department. He’ll be an equity partner at the high-profile firm, starting next month.

Never heard of Dechert? They’re an international law firm that looks more like a conglomerate. They’ve got 21 offices around the world. They’ve represented Big Tobacco on behalf of Phillip-Morris in the class action suits against the cancer-stick maker.
They’ve represented Big Pharma on behalf of Merck & Co. in class action lawsuits against them. To be fair, they occasionally do things like represent Guantanamo Bay detainees who maybe shouldn’t be there—which, of course, like everyone else they defend—the American government hates. And of course, they do a ton of White Collar defense. They’ve repped Enron! This is like leaving one team for their team’s rival, and being paid a bunch for it (remember, he’s being made an equity partner) because you wrote your old team’s playbook.

The reason this news is important and is being reported everywhere from Dealbook to the Wall Street Journal and back, isn’t so much because Mr. Streeter is a great lawyer—he clearly is—or because moves like this are an uncommon occurance—they’re not—but because of the subtext, which implies that everyone in this world, no matter how committed to the concept of justice they are, has a price. And Mr. Streeter, once another one of the Good Guys, and Protector Of The Interests Of The People, just cashed his in. And it was offered by the defense team of the exact stripe of people he once helped take down.

fkamer@observer.com | @weareyourfek

Raj Rajaratnam’s Star Prosecutor, Jonathan Streeter: Fence-Jumping Sellout!