Wednesday, July 07, 2010

In the Public's Benefit - Installment 2010-2

From 2000 through 2006, attorney Steven M. Coren and several of his client-contractors defrauded government agencies by falsely representing that the contractors’ workers were being paid the prevailing wage as required by the federal Davis-Bacon Act and New York State Labor Law. On March 20, 2009, Coren pled guilty to a sixteen-count indictment charging him with scheming to defraud government agencies in connection with his clients’ construction contracts with those agencies, conspiring to launder the funds wrongfully obtained from those agencies, and obstructing the federal grand jury investigation by directing one of his clients to destroy documents related to the scheme.

Coren's scheme involved more than $10,000,000 in contract payments from various agencies for projects including 18 New York City public schools and 20 public housing projects. Over the course of the scheme, two contractors alone diverted over $750,000 in funds due employees.

Coren, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison in February, admitted he had advised a client to destroy a computer flash drive that could have been used in a federal investigation. Today it was been announced that the federal crimes of which Coren was convicted were sufficient to trigger his automatic disbarment from practice in New York State.

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Why pick on law schools?

Law schools do not seem to compete for the public's benefit; school reputations currently connote to the public vague expectations of how brazen and arrogant their graduates may behave, rather than the innate integrity of their respective graduates.
Improving law school admissions standards, although certainly in the public interest, is highly unlikely. After all, law schools are not military academies and most lawyers were never Eagle Scouts nor recipients of Girl Scout equivalent Gold Awards.
Why pick on lawyers?

A disproportionate percentage of law graduates (hardly 2% of the entire workforce) are currently elected to over 20% of public offices (including 60% of the U.S, Senate and 100% of the U.S. Supreme Court). This presents conflicts of interest and publicly unintended concentrations of authority. Combined with self-serving laws tailored to give incumbents subtle advantages over challengers, the country is in growing peril of a permanent political class.
Meanwhile, proceeds of the underlying crimes are certainly adequate to provide corruptive influences in government at every level.

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