Skip to main content

2017 Investigative Summary 5

Investigation of Alleged Unauthorized Sentencing Recommendation; Failure to Keep Client Informed; Violation of Duty of Loyalty

OPR learned that without first obtaining supervisory approval, a DOJ attorney agreed to a U.S. Sentencing Guidelines downward departure, which resulted in a sentence of probation and home confinement. In another case, the same DOJ attorney allegedly failed to seek a statutory  enhancement despite her supervisors’ direction to do so. OPR initiated an inquiry, which it later converted to an investigation. In its report of investigation, OPR concluded that in the first case, the DOJ attorney committed intentional professional misconduct in violation of her obligation under state bar rules, and Department and USAO policies, to keep her client reasonably informed of developments in the case.

In addition, OPR concluded that the DOJ attorney violated the duty of loyalty she owed to her client, the United States, by assuming a position adverse or antagonistic to her client. In the second case, OPR concluded that the DOJ attorney made a mistake by failing to make the necessary filing for a sentencing enhancement, as her supervisors had directed her to do. OPR referred its findings to the PMRU, which sustained OPR’s finding regarding the first case and recommended a period of suspension and authorized OPR to refer its finding to the state bar. OPR referred its findings of professional misconduct to the appropriate state bar disciplinary authority.

Updated July 13, 2021