Updated 3:24 p.m.
Lawyers for attorney and former wealth manager Evan Snapper, charged with making a false statement in connection to bundled campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential bid, want a federal judge in Washington to impose a sentence of probation.
Snapper, 46, who has resigned from the New York-based accounting firm Anchin, Block & Anchin, pleaded guilty in January in Washington federal district court to one count of false statements, a felony. Judge Paul Friedman set sentencing for May 23.
The charge carries a maximum five-year prison term, but Snapper’s guideline range is 10 to 16 months, according to court records. Snapper faces a fine of between $3,000 and $30,000, his lawyers at Steptoe & Johnson said in court papers filed April 7.
Federal prosecutors alleged Snapper falsely reported that $48,300 in contributions came from 21 people when the source was the crime novelist Patricia Cornwell. Snapper, a former principal at Anchin, managed Cornwell’s account from 2004 through 2009.
An attorney for Snapper, Steptoe white-collar litigation partner Evan Barr, said in the court papers filed this month that Snapper “deeply regrets his lack of judgment that led him to commit this offense.” Barr said Snapper “committed the instant offense as an ill-advised favor to Patricia Cornwell, an important and powerful client of his firm.”
Cornwell is suing Snapper and his firm in Boston federal district court over alleged mismanagement of money. Cornwell, represented by Ropes & Gray, filed suit (PDF) in October 2009 seeking monetary damages. Lawyers for Anchin and Snapper, who are represented by Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, are quarreling with Cornwell’s attorneys over access to documents.
Snapper’s 28-page sentencing memo (PDF) contains more than 10 pages that are blacked out. The memo, according to prosecutors, describes in detail Snapper’s cooperation with the government. In March, Public Integrity Section prosecutors Daniel Petalas and Edward Kang said they did not oppose Snapper’s request to file his sentencing memorandum under seal. The government has not filed a sentencing memorandum.
Snapper’s lawyers in the criminal prosecution said he has “paid a steep price” for his crime. Snapper, his attorneys said, has agreed to pay a $65,000 civil and administrative penalty to the Federal Election Commission. The defense lawyers said "it would be grossly unfair to sentence Mr. Snapper to anything more severe than probation."
Snapper “did not seek to personally gain from the offense. He participated in the scheme solely to placate a demanding and mercurial firm client.”
A lawyer for Cornwell, Ropes & Gray partner Joan Lukey in Boston, said this afternoon in an e-mail that Snapper's sentencing memorandum "regrettably chosen to follow a less honorable course" than conveying a felon's remorse and seeking leniency.
"His sentencing memorandum is a compilation of self-serving misrepresentations and distortions, reflecting his continuing unwillingness – notwithstanding his guilty plea – to accept responsibility for his own criminal conduct," Lukey said.
Lukey said Cornwell "voluntarily and truthfully cooperated" with the Justice Department investigation of the campaign contribution bundling. "Thereafter, the Department charged Mr. Snapper - and only Mr. Snapper - with a crime. Mr. Snapper's continuing efforts to blame others for his own criminal conduct is indeed unfortunate."
Steptoe’s Barr said Snapper has other legal issues on the horizon beyond the criminal case. The Securities and Exchange Commission, Barr said, has opened a formal inquiry in the circumstances tied to the bundling of contributions. And the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has begun a preliminary inquiry, “raising the possibility of still more financial and administrative penalties in the future.”
Snapper was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1991 and currently has an “inactive” status. His lawyers said the felony conviction for false statements will likely mean disbarment.