The post has been updated on the next page to include Andrew Stolper's side to the story and former colleagues vouching for him. Read more about his new firm here: "Andrew Stolper, Former Federal Prosecutor, Fends Off Critics of His Litigation-Finance Firm."
Has this ever happened to you? Someone tells you about a person you have never heard of before, then a couple days later the same name pops up from a completely different source.
That happened to yours truly when it came to Santa Ana-based federal prosecutor Andrew Stolper.
Make that former prosecutor.
Addressing a lunchtime crowd at UC Irvine School of Law on Feb. 27, former Broadcom CFO William J. Ruehle mentioned Stolper's shameful conduct in the unsuccessful prosecution of Ruehle. I blogged about that presentation here:
Stolper's name popped up a couple days later when Karen Hanover alleged to me shenanigans by the same prosecutor in the federal wire fraud and FBI spoofing cases against the Seal Beach real estate saleswoman.
My colleague R. Scott Moxley deals with the players on the ground at the Ronald Reagan federal courthouse in Santa Ana, including one Andrew Stolper, while I am usually confined to my journo-pod beneath the Weekly World HQ in Costa Messy.
However, I am familiar with, and have mentioned here in Navel Gazing, some of the federal judges at The Gipper, as we call it. Among them: Judge Cormac Carney, who became so incensed over Stolper's conduct in the 2009 Broadcom case that he forbid the prosecutor from speaking, leaving those less familiar with the details to run what quickly became a stinker for the U.S. Attorney's office.
Stolper's conduct would supposedly lead to a probe of his work by his superiors, although the Corona del Mar resident says in a new Reuters story that he was eventually cleared by brass. The main point of that story, however, is Stolper having finally left the U.S. Attorney's office in Santa Ana.
Actually, Hanover tipped me to this development, which she said she heard from her attorney, shortly after I posted on her case March 4. Unfortunately, I could get no confirmation out of the U.S. Attorney nor was I able to reach Stolper.
After a decade as a federal prosecutor, he has "teamed up with an ex-FBI agent to form a private equity firm specializing in litigation finance, a growing business in the legal industry," reports Reuters. Irvine-based Crux Capital, which launched on Monday, will have hedge funds and other investors essentially betting on the outcomes of commercial litigation buy providing money to litigants in exchange for cuts of any settlements or verdicts.
Peter Norell, Stolper's partner and a former FBI agent, pleaded guilty in 2010 to illegally accessing Bureau records and threatening to launch a criminal probe to help an acquaintance collect a debt. That's about the same time he left the Bureau.
UPDATE: Stolper reiterates that a DOJ investigation showed he did nothing improper in his Broadcom prosecution and claims that various officials, up to and including federal judges, have told him they found Judge Carney's rulings in the case curious.
The former federal prosecutor also takes issue with the "betting on the outcome" line above, saying Crux Capital will merely help those who have been wronged pay for their court matters and ensure justice can be served. (See "Andrew Stolper, Former Federal Prosecutor, Fends Off Critics of His Litigation-Finance Firm" for more details.)
A number of his former colleagues vouch for him.
"Andrew has been a fearless, fierce advocate for victims of crime," Joseph McNally, an assistant U.S. Attorney at the Department of Justice, tells me. "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.
"On a lighter side, he has an incredible sense of humor and will be missed by us," McNally added.
"Andrew is an outstanding, intelligent trial lawyer with a strong work ethic," responded 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 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."
"I worked with Andrew since I transferred to the Santa Ana USAO in 2011 (I previously worked in our Riverside office and before that at main justice in DC)," explains Charles Pell, another assistant U.S. Attorney. "He was an essential asset to me and my colleagues in helping to formulate winning trial strategies. Andrew is especially gifted at taking a complex fact pattern and weaving into a compelling narrative that explains what happened to the jury without dumbing it down.
"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. Andrew is one of the most persuasive lawyers I've worked with because he employes a powerful cocktail of intellect, humor, moxie, and passion to make his arguments compelling."
Added Pell, "His leaving was a big loss for the office."
"I consider Andrew a good friend and he was one of the brightest and hardest working colleagues I've had here at the U.S. Attorney's Office," echoed Brett Sagel, a federal prosecutor whose name you may recall from Moxley's coverage of disgraced, ex-Orange County sheriff Mike Carona.
"Even while Andrew was busy with his own caseload, he was available to give invaluable assistance to others," Sagel continues. "From personal experience, he probably gave me more and better ideas for my opening statements in the Carona trial than anyone else, and he wasn't even on the case."
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A current FBI agent who worked with Stolper since he joined the U.S. Attorney's office in 2002 also commented, although it is the bureau's policy that he not be identified.
"Mr. Stolper brought uncommon energy and intellect to complex fraud investigations," the agent said. "Many of his cases required dedication beyond the call of duty, and Mr. Stolper always exceeded my expectations. During the cases on which we collaborated, AUSA Stolper always applied fairness and kept an open mind, dealing with defendants objectively. His ability to absorb enormous amounts of information in short periods of time was matched only by his willingness to work extremely hard.
"I worked on several matters with AUSA Stolper that resulted in trials, and was always impressed by Mr. Stolper's acumen in legal matters and abilities in the courtroom. Mr. Stolper's was an asset to the furtherance of justice, and he will be missed."