Strangely, Attorney-Client Privilege DOES NOT Cover Illegal Computers Hidden In Ceiling

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NOTHING TO SEE HERE.

Hedge fund manager James Murray had a problem. Facing 22 counts of fraud for allegedly ripping off investors and credit-card companies of more than $3 million, he was also forbidden from using the internet. That may, under the circumstances, sound like the least of his problems. But he had a dedicated client who needed him to invest $25K for him, and up to that point he had only allegedly disappointed clients. You know, by allegedly stealing their money. He was not going to let this generous supporter down.

The problem was, those folks at the halfway house he was living in are eagle-eyed and would notice if he tried to log in to E*Trade on the communal computer. And his lawyers were showing annoying fealty to the court’s orders, giving him only an internetless computer to work on when he was in their office. But James Murray is not so easily dissuaded. He found himself a tablet, hacked into the law firm’s wifi and invested some of that money in securities and looked into investing some more in a one-way ticket to Switzerland. And then he hid the tablet in the ceiling of the conference room.

And the whole scheme would have worked, too, if he hadn’t had to trust one of his fellow halfway house residents to buy the tablet. Unfortunately, halfway house residents are not the most trustworthy individuals around.

The computer Murray was assigned at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman did not have Web access. However, the FBI executed a search warrant and found the tablet hidden above ceiling tiles in a small conference room he was allowed to use at the law firm, the Marin Independent Journal reported last year. The search was sparked by a tip from a fellow halfway house resident, who said he had bought the tablet for Murray at Murray’s request, the newspaper explained.

An FBI agent said in an affidavit that the fellow resident said Murray told him he was able to access the Internet using the law firm’s wifi. Murray allegedly used the tablet computer to execute trades with $25,000 wired to his account by an investor with whom he’d previously had dealings and send email requesting a price quote for a one-way private jet flight from San Francisco to Switzerland.

Ex hedge-fund honcho who hid computer in ceiling of his lawyer’s office convicted of fraud [ABA Journal]
Former hedge fund manager convicted of investment and credit card fraud [Bay City News]

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