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BigLaw Stress and Pot Blamed for Lawyer's Illegal Antics

Get out your tiny violin because this one's a doozy.

The former government, turned BigLaw, attorney that made headlines for trying to sell DOJ complaints to the companies being investigated, sought the mercy of the court in a sentencing memorandum filed last week.

The memorandum describes the situation as being like a "b-grade action movie," but given the context, it actually seems to be one of those dark comedies that makes you feel uncomfortable every time you laugh. Generally, he is blaming job stress for driving him to crime, and the memorandum lays it on rather thick. At one point in the memo, while discussing his relationship with his wife and her family to bolster his good character, his attorneys explain that he is known amid extended family as "the Jew who saved Christmas."

When It Rains ...

While there really isn't ever a good excuse for fraud, Jeffrey Wertkin attempted to explain that his actions were born from desperation. One can't help but feel the similarity to Breaking Bad. He, like many other attorneys, was dealing with mental health issues related to the pressures of the work and a tense home life, and those issues, which he had dealt with his entire life, went undiagnosed until it was too late. Also, he claims that his experimentation with edible marijuana and his use of alcohol led to increased strain on his personal relationships, which, naturally, impacted his profession, drove him to his crimes.

Downhill From Trial Loss

Before any of his criminal activity, Wertkin portrays himself as a good, honest, driven, hardworking government lawyer. But, after winning a major jury verdict for the DOJ, the judge in the matter set the verdict aside. This loss devastated him to the point where he refused his next trial assignment, and eventually resigned. From there, he moved on to the BigLaw firm, where he admittedly overstated his expertise and ended up in over his head.

He credited his willingness to commit his bad deeds to his desire to get out of his current position, which he was miserable in from the very beginning. Unfortunately, he accomplished his exit in one of the worst possible ways. It is now up to the court to decide his sentence. Although the guidelines list a range of 30 to 37 months, his attorneys are requesting a sentence of one year and one day.

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