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New Rajaratnam lawyer Dowd represented McCain, Major Leagues

Bloomberg News//October 28, 2009

New Rajaratnam lawyer Dowd represented McCain, Major Leagues

Bloomberg News//October 28, 2009

John M. Dowd, the new criminal lawyer for Galleon Group hedge fund founder Raj Rajaratnam, is a legal heavy hitter.

During more than 30 years as a lawyer, Dowd has represented U.S. Sen. John McCain in an ethics investigation, ex-Justice Department aide Monica Goodling in a U.S. probe and former Arizona Gov. Fife Symington in a bank fraud trial. The 225-page report he assembled for Major League Baseball in 1989 found 412 instances in which Pete Rose bet on the game, leading the sport to banish its career hits leader.

“He’s a six-foot five-inch enormous former marine who has a real sense of command,” Fay Vincent, the big-league commissioner from 1989 to 1992, during the Rose investigation, said Tuesday in an interview. “He’s extra effective with juries. People like him because he’s very straightforward. He looks like a former altar boy who wouldn’t mislead you.”

For Rajaratnam, the move to replace James Walden, of New York’s Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, with Dowd, of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Field, means he’ll be relying on a Washington-based attorney to convince a Manhattan jury to acquit him if the case goes to trial. Andrew Weissmann, a former Justice Department attorney now at Jenner & Block in New York, said Dowd is so good that he’ll have little difficulty connecting to local jurors.

“It’s a factor that you would consider,” Weissmann, who as a member of the Justice Department’s Enron Corp. Task Force dealt with Dowd during his representation of former executive David Delainey. “I think it’s more about the person than the location.”

“The difference between D.C. and New York, or New York and Chicago – it doesn’t matter” said John Moustakas, a partner at Goodwin Procter in Washington.

Rajaratnam, 52, was among six people charged in New York on Oct. 16 in a $20 million insider trading scheme that federal prosecutors called the biggest ever involving hedge funds. He was freed by a magistrate judge on a $100 million bond, of which $20 million had to be guaranteed.

According to prosecutors, tips to Rajaratnam came from insiders and others at hedge funds, investor relations firms and companies including Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp., McKinsey & Co., and other companies whose shares were traded in the scheme. Prosecutors said they have wiretaps of Rajaratnam discussing the scheme.

Walden defended Rajaratnam in the early stages of the case, winning his release on bond after prosecutors asked a judge to jail him before the trial. In a statement on Monday, Walden said his firm had “laid a strong foundation for Mr. Rajaratnam’s defense.” The statement didn’t say why Dowd took over the case.

Dowd didn’t return phone and e-mail requests seeking comment.

Dowd, 68, is a 1963 graduate of St. Bernard College and a 1965 graduate of Emory University’s law school. He was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps and member of the Judge Advocate General Corps before joining the Justice Department as a lawyer in the tax division and as chief of the Organized Crime Strike Force, according to Akin Gump’s Web site.

“John’s experience is unimpeachable, and it will take that here,” Scott Fredericksen, a partner at Foley & Lardner in Washington, said in an interview. “The government has come out of the gates in very strong fashion with wiretaps. One would expect this case to go to trial, and John has the experience. He’s a fighter.”

Dowd’s clients have come from sports, government and the corporate boardroom.

In the late 1980s, Fay Vincent, Major League Baseball’s commissioner from 1989 to 1992, hired Dowd to look into gambling allegations against Rose, who began and ended his career as a player and manager with the Cincinnati Reds. Rose also played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Montreal Expos.

Dowd’s investigation finding that Rose wagered even on his own team cited phone and bank records and betting slips in Rose’s handwriting.

The next year, Dowd delivered a report to Vincent about New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner’s dealings with an admitted gambler.

Dowd’s zealous defense of a client was on display during his representation of McCain, one of five senators who took contributions from savings and loan financier Charles Keating. They were later accused of seeking favors from regulators for him. The Senate Ethics Committee in 1991 cleared McCain of wrongdoing other than using poor judgment in going to a meeting set up to lobby regulators on Keating’s behalf.

“John is the only senator among all the senators that essentially threw Charlie Keating out of his office and broke off all relations with him,” Dowd told reporters last year as McCain, a Republican, was running for president.

Two years ago, Dowd defended Monica Goodling, who resigned as an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during a U.S. probe of her role in the firing of U.S. attorneys. No charges were brought against Goodling. Dowd at one point accused the Justice Department’s inspector general of engaging in “retribution and intimidation” in the case.

Other Dowd clients have included executives at Boeing Co. and Sunrise Senior Living Inc.

“Mr. Dowd has an enviable reputation as an investigator, earned both in the government and outside,” said John Moscow, a former prosecutor now with Baker & Hostetler in New York. “He is being asked to represent a man whose words were tape recorded. This will be a challenging task.”

The case is U.S. v. Rajaratnam, 1:09-mj-02306, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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