Craig Carpenito, of Alston & Bird's New York office, was featured in an article appearing in The American Lawyer last year detailing his successful trial victory against Brendan Sullivan and Williams & Connolly in the prosecution of Walter A. Forbes. The piece, entitled “Jersey Boys,” examines the conviction of Forbes, the former chairman of Cendant Corporation, on securities fraud and conspiracy charges. Forbes’ legal problems were the precursor to other corporate scandals of the last decade, including WorldCom, Inc., and Enron Corp.; in early 1998, Cendant announced serious accounting problems that would reduce the company’s net income for the previous year by $110-$115 million. In response, Cendant’s stock went into a freefall, costing shareholders $14 billion in a single day of trading.
The article displays the tenacity with which Carpenito and his trial partner Michael Martinez, a pair of young Assistant U.S. Attorneys, prosecuted Forbes, who was painted by his defense team as a visionary that had little to do with accounting strategies—let alone irregularities, for his role in the scandal. The duo tried the case twice, surviving a mistrial to take Forbes on again in the fall of 2006 (Forbes was actually tried three times, overall; another group of lawyers had initially tried him in 2004, a case that also resulted in a mistrial).
The third trial proved to be the charm and, through the diligence of Carpenito and Martinez, Forbes was found guilty in October 2006. He was eventually sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison and ordered to pay $3.2 billion dollars in restitution. The victory, though gratifying, did not come without sacrifice; both Carpenito and Martinez were kept from their families for six months, holed up in Hartford, Connecticut, for the duration of the trial. Outmanned, the men worked long hours to combat a team of high-profile attorneys led by Sullivan.
To read the full story of this compelling litigation victory, “Jersey Boys” can be found in the March 2007 issue of The American Lawyer.