Controversial Former Federal Prosecutor Resurfaces as OC Civil Litigator

Andrew Stolper eyes the foam running down the glass of craft beer he just took a swig from at a Corona del Mar bar and launches into an explanation of his noble experiment.

The former federal prosecutor and his ex-FBI agent business partner recently opened Crux Capital, a litigation-finance firm in Irvine. Relatively new to the United States but practiced with gusto in the United Kingdom and Australia for a quarter-century, litigation-finance firms put up some of the costs of legal cases in exchange for percentages of jury awards or financial settlements.

Stolper and partner Peter Norell believe they can help level the playing field in courtrooms and lead to more justice by essentially giving individuals and small companies a fighting chance against fat cats, large corporations and their fierce legal teams. But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pushing back hard to stop litigation finance from flourishing.

Lisa Rickard, president of the chamber's Institute for Legal Reform, tells the Weekly her office is calling for "common-sense safeguards to prevent third-party financing from undermining our justice system."

She maintains that relying on the legal community to monitor litigation finance "will further turn our courthouses into cash machines while bogging down our legal system in a continuing flood of lawsuits. Third-party litigation financing encourages meritless lawsuits, since one windfall can subsidize many losses, and investors verify a lawsuit's 'jackpot' potential, not its legitimacy."

Stolper has heard this before. But in between sips of his porter, he mentions he finds it curious the chamber, which is supposedly all about protecting small businesses, is essentially siding with big corporations that might screw over, say, mom-and-pop shops.

"My clients are members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," Stolper notes. "My clients are not likely to be big businesses. They have their own lawyers. What does the U.S. Chamber have against smaller American businesses?"

Rickard counters that companies such as Crux Capital will not help small businesses, as advertised. "At its core, third-party litigation financing is about making money off of the little guy," she says, "not benefiting him or advancing justice."

Stolper calls it "fair criticism" to fret about more junk cases clogging courts, but adds Crux Capital is not out to generate more litigation only to help offset mounting legal costs.

The firm's partners are used to controversy. Norell pleaded guilty in 2010, which was around the time he left the FBI, to illegally accessing Bureau records and threatening to launch a criminal probe to help an acquaintance collect a debt. U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford ruled in July that Norell was “factually innocent” of the misdemeanor charge he pleaded to, which removed the conviction.

A rising star in the U.S. Attorney's office's white-collar-crimes unit coming off a successful prosecution that was part of the government case against Enron, Stolper went on to find himself chastised by Santa Ana-based federal Judge Cormac Carney in the feds' case against Broadcom a few years later.

The Irvine chip maker's stock price had reached all-time highs in the mid-2000s, which translated into huge bonuses for upper management and some employees. Later came a restatement of the company's value that drove the stock price down, even though the bonuses had already gone out based on the higher value. Known as backdating, this mechanism can be rife for fraud.

To Stolper, it was a classic insider-trading case that had to be prosecuted to preserve investor faith in the market. But in an unusual move, Carney dismissed the counts against not only the defendants Stolper was prosecuting, but also a company co-founder who had already pleaded guilty. The judge was incensed that Stolper had contacted a Broadcom defense attorney heading into a hearing and, depending on who tells the story, threatened the lawyer with prosecution or reiterated the government's case.

Despite the scarlet letter from Carney, Stolper points to a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation that he says showed he did nothing improper in his Broadcom prosecution. He also claims various officials, up to and including federal judges, have told him Carney's Broadcom rulings were curious.

Queried by the Weekly, a persuasive lineup of former DOJ colleagues vouched for Stolper.

"Andrew has been a fearless, fierce advocate for victims of crime," says Joseph McNally, an assistant U.S. Attorney. "He brought justice to countless victims of crime across the country who were bullied and taken advantage of by sophisticated fraudsters. He was among the best white-collar prosecutors in the country, and his leaving the U.S. Attorney's office is a real loss."

"Andrew is an outstanding, intelligent trial lawyer with a strong work ethic," responds Dennise D. Willett, chief of the U.S. Attorney's Santa Ana branch office. "He was routinely assigned to prosecute the most complex white-collar cases in the Santa Ana branch office and other AUSAs [assistant U.S. Attorneys] routinely sought his advice and assistance on their cases. Andrew was a valuable member of our office, not only for his exceptional work, but also for the assistance he provided to his colleagues."

"Andrew has worked every variety of white-collar case and was a wealth of legal, factual and political knowledge on how the cases are investigated, prosecuted and, ultimately, resolved," observes Charles Pell, another assistant U.S. Attorney who transferred to the Santa Ana office from Riverside in 2011. "Andrew is one of the most persuasive lawyers I've worked with because he employs a powerful cocktail of intellect, humor, moxie and passion to make his arguments compelling."

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10 comments
rod.quigley
rod.quigley

The justice system is, and has been corrupt for a very long time.  Crux is a fairly minor effort to remove the advantage enjoyed by large, moneyed interests in the civil justice system.  Now, if there were only something we can do for the "rot" that is known as the criminal "justice" system..  

toddkrejci
toddkrejci

thats all good and fine

what advise do you have to a family that was wrongfully oreclosed while doing a short sale.

Honestly whats the point?

You are a joke.

Botom line is ou need money to defend and thats the botom line and we all know it

sounds to me like self promotion

inteligent hard working

probably reborn too.

you wont go against nationstar bank that foreclosed on a family I know of

people, guilt and innocence has nothing to do with it

if you dont have $15,000 to pay this schmuckyou will be out on the street

sincerely,

Todd Krejci

broadcomjustice
broadcomjustice

Stolper went from prosecutor to prosecuted to exonerated to businessman - a long road in a short time for this guy.

jrey
jrey

Ups and downs, man.

hindemith7
hindemith7



see link for full story
CNN exclusive: FBI misconduct reveals sex, lies and videotape

By Scott Zamost and Kyra Phillips, CNN Special Investigations Unit
January 27, 2011



Washington (CNN) -- An FBI employee shared confidential information with his girlfriend, who was a news reporter, then later threatened to release a sex tape the two had made.

A supervisor watched pornographic videos in his office during work hours while "satisfying himself."

And an employee in a "leadership position" misused a government database to check on two friends who were exotic dancers and allowed them into an FBI office after hours.

These are among confidential summaries of FBI disciplinary reports obtained by CNN, which describe misconduct by agency supervisors, agents and other employees over the last three years

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/27/siu.fbi.internal.documents/index.html

 
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