2013 Archives

U.T. System Seeks A.G. Opinion on Privileges

December 2, 2013

Texas Lawyer

Angela Morris

The U.T. system wants an "expedited" opinion from the Texas Office of the Attorney General about whether the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, which is investigating whether to impeach U.T. System Regent Wallace Hall, has the authority to compel attorney-client privileged testimony and to subpoena attorney-work-product documents. The U.T. System asked: If an attorney declined, could the committee hold him in contempt?

Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. represents The U.T. System.Click For Full Story

SIERRA CLUB: Shell Deer Park, Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou cut major 'upset' emissions by 95 percent

November 23, 2013

The Journal Friendswood

Sierra Club and Environment Texas announced that Shell Oil Company and Chevron Phillips Chemical Company have each cut illegal air pollution from major "upset" events at their Gulf Coast plants by about 95 percent. Those reductions are even more than was required by their settlements of federal Clean Air Act lawsuits brought by the environmental groups.

At issue in the cases were illegal air emissions arising from so-called "upset" events - equipment breakdowns, malfunctions, and other non-routine occurrences

Sierra Club and Environment Texas are represented locally by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C.

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Halliburton case could set new precedent for shareholder lawsuits

November 19, 2013

Houston Business Journal

Deon Daughtery

The appeal of a securities class action lawsuit involving Houston-based Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) has made it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it could have a far-reaching impact on shareholders' rights, say some in the legal community.

In the original 1988 case, Basic v. Levinson, a group of shareholders sued the company, alleging it had downplayed its asbestos liabilities and overstated revenue with regard to its merger with Dresser Industries. The court at the time said investors didn't have to prove their loss had a direct link to the allegations; rather, any security investment could be presumed to have been directly impacted, Reuters reported.

It's that presumption that's at issue before the highest court in the country. Essentially, the court is weighing whether to heighten the burden of proof for shareholders, said Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor. Removing the "presumption of fraud on the market" could halt the ability of shareholders to file class action lawsuits, he said. For an individual shareholder, such a step is almost impossible because their financial resources are dwarfed by the company's deeper pockets.

"It is quite significant because it may very well shift the power from the shareholders to engage in class action suits," Hilder said. "During the last 25 years, the securities shareholders have relied upon this certain theory, which would allow them access to the courts because their burden of proof was easier."

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UT Wants Attorney General's Opinion, Can House Committee Punish for Contempt?

November 14, 2013

David Barer

Dallas News

University of Texas System officials want to know if a House Committee can punish for contempt during an impeachment proceeding.

Paul Foster, Chairman of the UT Board of Regents, asked for an attorney generals opinion on whether a House Committee can hold UT officials in contempt for invoking attorney-client privilege or keeping attorney-client work product confidential.

Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C., outside counsel for the University of Texas System, issued the request and accompanying legal brief to the Attorney General's office.

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Committee Recalls Subpoena for UT Regent Hall

November 12, 2013

Texas Tribune

Reeve Hamilton


A legislative committee mulling the impeachment of embattled University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall has issued subpoenas both for his testimony and for that of several university system officials.

Philip Hilder, the UT System's outside counsel, explained that he did not believe the request would be an issue, noting that previous witnesses — including a former system official and employees of the University of Texas at Austin — had been subpoenaed by the committee.

He said that a subpoena was necessary to provide the witnesses with "a level of protection."

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Firm Client Antoine Dental Center Prevails at Trial

November 5, 2013

On November 5, 2013 an Administrative Court found that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Office of Inspector General did not show reliable evidence of fraud to withhold payments in its case against Antoine Dental Center. The state withheld over $1 million in Medicaid payments while it conducted the investigation. Hilder & Associates, P.C. was part of the trial team. Counsel from the Firm were Philip H. Hilder, James Rytting and William Graham.

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Court Orders New Mental Competency Hearing in Death Penalty Case

October 30, 2013

Texas Tribune

Brandi Grissom

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a new hearing for Death Row inmate Marcus Druery to determine whether he is mentally competent to be executed for the 2002 fatal shooting. James Rytting, Hilder & Associates, P.C. is one of Mr. Druery's counsel.

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Ex-Madoff Workers Seen Choosing Bets On Freedom Over Plea Deals

October 15, 2013

Bloomberg Businessweek

Erik Larson

Five former employees of Bernard L. Madoff on trial over allegations they aided in his $17 billion fraud probably scrapped plea talks involving harsh prison terms to gamble for total exoneration from a jury, ex-prosecutors said.

The U.S. had little reason to offer the group leniency in exchange for testimony against others, since Madoff and his top aides had already pleaded guilty, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor in Houston who represents defendants accused of white-collar crimes.

"It's kind of like an airline that only has a couple seats remaining on a flight," said Hilder, who ran the U.S. Justice Department's organized crime strike force in Houston in the late 1980s. "There's no reason to give a discount. They charge a full fare. That principle applies here too."

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Focus on video testimony as Cuban case winds down

October 14, 2013

Houston Chronicle

David Koening


The government's insider-trading case against billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is heading toward the final buzzer.

After six days of testimony, closing arguments are expected Tuesday afternoon in federal court in Dallas.

The Securities and Exchange Commission sued Cuban, claiming that he avoided $750,000 in losses by selling his 6 percent stake in a Canadian search engine company called Mamma.com Inc. after the CEO told him about a planned stock offering. The sale would have cut the value of his shares. The CEO, Guy Faure, said that Cuban agreed to confidentiality on a phone call in 2004, then, when told of the stock deal, angrily said, "Now I'm screwed. I can't sell." Cuban disputes Faure's account.

The verdict could come down to whether jurors believe Cuban or the company's CEO, a Canadian citizen who declined to come to Dallas. His testimony had been recorded on video and shown to the jury. Jurors also heard from bankers, stockbrokers and professors.

Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor and now a white-collar criminal defense attorney in Houston, said juries like to see the demeanor of witnesses. That's harder when they testify by video.

"You can't see if they fidget, you can't see eye contact," Hilder said. "Video testimony is never as compelling as live testimony."

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Anderson To Fill Late Husband's Role As Harris County DA

September 26, 2013

Law 360

Jeremy Heallen

Former Harris County District Judge Devon Anderson was appointed Tuesday by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to succeed her late husband as the county's top prosecutor, a decision hailed by former prosecutors and defense attorneys as bringing a well-rounded perspective to the office.

Anderson picks up the torch Mike Anderson was forced to relinquish in August when he died of cancer after just eight months in office. Her colleagues say her impressive resume as a prosecutor, criminal district judge and defense attorney make Anderson the first "triple threat" to serve as district attorney in the past 30 years.

Phillip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC says those crucial years Anderson spent with the defense bar give her an added dimension as district attorney that none of her predecessors over the past 30 years had.

"It gives her a better handle on the criminal justice system," Hilder said.

Hilder observed Anderson's acumen as a defense attorney up close when they represented a pair of co-defendants. Although he declined to get into specifics about the case, Hilder said Anderson was a zealous advocate who "very much cared about her clients."

Her experience in private practice will enable Anderson as district attorney to relate to the challenges defense attorneys face and avoid the "us versus them" mentality that past officeholders seemed to encourage, Hilder believes.

"She has a wealth of experience having been a prosecutor, judge and a defense attorney," he said. "She can analyze situations from different perspectives."

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To Assist in Probe, UT System Hires Outside Counsel

September 11, 2013

Texas Tribune

The University of Texas System has hired Hilder & Associates, a Houston-based law firm, as outside counsel to assist in its dealings with the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations.

According to a statement provided by a System spokeswoman, matters and questions that may arise during the proceedings for which the System or the board may require outside counsel could relate to "the privileged nature of legal advice and communications provided by System officers and employees to members of the Board of Regents and others and to the waiver of such privilege in the context of a quasi-judicial legislative proceeding, including closed sessions of a legislative committee."

Philip H. Hilder is a heavyweight. His high-profile clients have included the whistleblowers in the Enron and Countrywide scandals. He formerly served as the attorney-in-charge of the United States Department of Justice Organized Crime Strike Force in Houston.

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Eighth Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud

September 9, 2013

Philip H. Hilder will co-chair for the Eighth Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud on October 24-25, 2013 at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place, New Orleans, LA.

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Texas Enacts Additional Laws to Address Medicaid Fraud, Waste and Abuse

September 10, 2013

Article by Philip H. Hilder -"Texas Enacts Additional Laws to Address Medicaid Fraud, Waste and Abuse" that appears as part of Lawyer Monthly's Legal Focus on Fraud and Financial Crime. The article recaps four new laws, which took effect on September 1, 2013, that enhance Texas State enforcement and investigation into fraudulent practices in the healthcare field.

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Philip Hilder named a Top Attorney

September 10, 2013

Philip H. Hilder was named by the publishers of Texas Super Lawyers as one of the State's Top Attorneys in 2013

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Enron's Skilling gets more than 10 years cut off sentence

Houston Chronicle

June 21, 2013

Mike Tolson

The long-running battle between federal prosecutors and former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling formally came to an end Friday when U.S. District Judge Sim Lake signed off on a negotiated sentence agreement that will end Skilling's incarceration in about four years.

In agreeing to the minimum sentence within the range of 168 and 210 months, Lake said the interest of justice would not be served by having Skilling serve longer. He noted that the architect of Enron's rise from an obscure pipeline company to an innovative and diverse energy giant will end up spending more time in prison than anyone else connected to the company's stunning 2001 collapse into bankruptcy.

"This is not an easy decision to make," Lake said about the number of months to choose.

"This is absolutely a reasonable resolution," said attorney Philip Hilder, a onetime federal prosecutor who represented so-called Enron whistleblower Sheron Watkins, an accountant who became famous when her memo to Lay warning of the consequences of potential accounting scandals became public. "It frees up about $41 million and puts and end to the appeals. And Skilling will have served a significant amount of time."

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Former Enron CEO's jail time cut

Houston Business Journal

June 21, 2013

Deon Daugherty

Former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling will get out of prison 10 years earlier than expected with a decision by district Judge Sim Lake on Friday that shaved his sentence from 24 years to 14, Reuters is reporting.

Skilling was originally sentenced to more than 24 years for his role in the 2001 collapse of the Houston energy giant. Skilling was convicted in 2006 for his role in Enron's epic collapse. He has served six years on the charges of conspiracy, fraud and insider trading. His release date is expected between 2017 and 2018 based on time served, good behavior and credit for a drug-and-alcohol-abuse program he completed while serving time.

Philip Hilder, attorney for whistleblower Sherron Watkins, said previously that the hearing would effectively close the Enron saga.

"I perceive this will be the last major Enron action," he said.

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Skilling sentence reduction appearance on Fox News 26

June 21, 2013

Philip H. Hilder, attorney for Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, appeared on Fox 26 News to discuss the possible sentence reduction of Jeff Skilling.

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Enron: The real story behind Jeff Skilling's big sentence reduction

CNN Money

May 15, 2013

By Peter Elkind, editor-at-large


Last week brought reports of a deal to chop as much as a decade off the prison term of Jeff Skilling, the former Enron CEO and convicted fraudster. But the real reason for the dramatic sentence reduction is different than some of the media coverage has suggested. Skilling's unusually stiff sentence -- exceeded in the pantheon of white-collar crime only by WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers -- could be cut from 24 years and four months to as little as 14 years if the agreement is approved by Houston federal judge Sim Lake, who presided over Skilling's criminal trial back in 2006.

With credit for good time and a drug and alcohol program, Skilling, who is 59 and has served six years already, could get another two and a half years off, freeing him from prison by his mid-60s. The deal will also release more than $40 million in assets seized from Skilling, to be distributed to Enron's financial victims, and will require him to abandon his appeals.

"This is all about finality," says Houston lawyer Phil Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who has represented several Enron clients, including Sherron Watkins. "There comes a point of diminishing returns."

"Let there be no mistake about this," says Hilder. "It's not as though the government gave away a significant sentence. The government didn't just decide to throw out 10 years. The negotiations only shaved a couple of years off Skilling's sentence."

But Skilling, Hilder notes, can now "see light at the end of the tunnel. He will know that there is a day he'll be able to walk out of there."

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Court Rejects Exxon Bid to Dismiss Citizen Enforcement Suit

May 3, 2013

A Federal Court has rejected, for the second time, an attempt by ExxonMobil Corporation and two subsidiaries to get rid of a lawsuit filed against them by Sierra Club and Environment Texas. The lawsuit alleges thousands of violations of regulations of the Clean Air Act at the nation's largest oil refinery and chemical plant complex located in Baytown, Texas. The Plaintiffs are represented in part by Firm lawyers Philip H. Hilder and Will Graham.


Judge declines to dismiss suit against ExxonMobil

Houston Chronicle

May 3, 2013

A federal judge has declined to throw out a 2010 environmental lawsuit against ExxonMobil Corp. over emissions from its Baytown oil refinery.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner in Houston on Thursday adopted a magistrate's April 3 recommendation that the Sierra Club and Environment Texas lawsuit be allowed to proceed.

Hittner in 2011 also declined to dismiss the lawsuit that alleges the nation's largest refinery violated air pollution laws thousands of times since 2005. Hilder & Associates, P.C. represents the Sierra Club in this matter.

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Possible Deal Could Cut Ex-Enron CEO's Sentence

The Associated Press

April 4, 2013

A possible agreement that could reduce the prison sentence of former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling for his role in the collapse of the once mighty energy giant is being discussed, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The possibility of a sentencing agreement in the case was made public this week in a notice to victims of Enron's collapse.

Philip Hilder, a Houston attorney who represented several former Enron executives who cooperated with prosecutors, said if an agreement is reached, he doubts it will result in Skilling's release based on time served.

"I do think he will get a significant reduction but I think he will still be incarcerated for the foreseeable near future," said Hilder, whose clients included Sherron Watkins, who famously warned Enron founder Kenneth Lay in late August 2001 that Enron could "implode in a wave of accounting scandals

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Deal could cut prison time for Enron's Skilling

Houston Chronicle

April 5, 2013

Attorneys for former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and the Department of Justiceare discussing an agreement to reduce his prison time and possibly avert a drawn-out court battle.

Those involved didn't disclose Thursday how much his 24-year sentence might be shortened through a settlement, though appeals court rulings in 2009 and 2010 made some reduction likely.

U.S. District Judge Sim Lake held a private conference call with attorneys from both sides last month about the potential deal. Skilling has been waiting to be re-sentenced after a federal appeals panel in 2009 ruled his sentencing was too harsh.

"Because of the complexity of the case and its age, I think it's probable both parties felt that it was best to come up with a negotiated compromise," said Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor. "A full-blown sentencing hearing would require a lot of resources and would be time-consuming and difficult because of the age of the case."

Hilder represented Sherron Watkins, a former Enron vice president who tried to warn other top executives about flaws in the company's accounting.

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Exxon Says Enviros Can't Sue It Over Refinery Emissions

Law360

April 3, 2013

Exxon Mobil Corp. on Tuesday told a Texas federal judge that environmental groups cannot sue the company over emissions from a refinery it owns because state and federal regulators have already taken enforcement actions against it.

An Attorney who represents the environmental groups, told Judge Smith that the appropriateness of a citizen enforcement suit "begins and ends" with the language of the Clean Air Act. The act does not bar private suits simply because government enforcement has occurred, he said.

Environment Texas Citizen Lobby Inc. and the Sierra Club are represented by Charles C. Caldart, Bracha Y. Etengoff, Joshua R. Kratka and Rachel Gore Freed of National Environmental Law Center, Philip Harlan Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC and David A. Nicholas.

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Justice Department discussing possible deal that could reduce ex-Enron CEO Skilling's sentence

Wall Street Journal

April 4, 2013


A possible agreement that could reduce the prison sentence of former Enron Corp. CEO Jeffrey Skilling for his role in the collapse of the once mighty energy giant is being discussed, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

The possibility of a sentencing agreement in the case was made public this week in a notice to victims of Enron's collapse.

Philip Hilder, a Houston attorney who represented several former Enron executives who cooperated with prosecutors, said if an agreement is reached, he doubts it will result in Skilling's release based on time served.

"I do think he will get a significant reduction but I think he will still be incarcerated for the foreseeable near future," said Hilder, whose clients included Sherron Watkins, who famously warned Enron founder Kenneth Lay in late August 2001 that Enron could "implode in a wave of accounting scandals."

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Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the Osaka Bar Association

On February 27, 2013, Firm attorneys James Rytting and Philip Hilder met with lawyers from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the Osaka Bar Association.  The contingent of lawyers were on a fact-finding mission regarding criminal justice reform and sought insight from Mr. Rytting and Mr. Hilder.


Gun owners arming themselves with lawyers even before shots are fired

Yahoo, The Lookout

Jason Sickles

March 6, 2013

Gun owners seem to be heeding the message that, even in self-defense, pulling the trigger can be a costly proposition. Exact stats aren't kept, but anecdotal evidence points to more gun owners proactively seeking legal assistance.

Around the country, a growing number of attorneys and gun-rights groups now offer prepaid legal plans for self-defense shootings. The programs, which are sold as either insurance or legal services, range from $100 to $300 a year and vary in coverage. Some reimburse set amounts for attorney fees, while others are like having a lawyer on retainer.

Texas attorney Philip Hilder scoffs at the defense-by-subscription trend.

"There is no rule of thumb," said Hilder, a former prosecutor who now defends criminals. "Every case is going to be fact-specific. What they are charging is unrealistic. You get what you pay for."

Texas Dentists for Medicaid Reform Applauds Due Process Provisions of Texas House Bill 1536

Blurred Barriers in Civil, Criminal Medicaid Investigations," they wrote:

"In an effort to control Medicaid costs and at the same time combat abuse, the OAG and the Texas Legislature have created a system that has encouraged - and even required - the intertwinement of civil and criminal investigations to the detriment of the proper administration of criminal justice, which likely violates Fifth Amendment due-process limitations."

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Death Row Prisoner Larry Swearingen May Be Innocent. Do Texas Courts Care?

The Nation

February 20, 2013

Jordan Smith

The Nation spotlights death row inmate, firm client Larry Swearingen.

n Swearingen's case, the courts have demonstrated little tolerance for scientific questions that are not only central to his guilt or innocence, but that have implications for every single death investigation in the state. - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/173014/death-row-prisoner-larry-swearingen-may-be-innocent-do-texas-courts-care#sthash.OrXz2beV.dpufIn Swearingen's case, the courts have demonstrated little tolerance for scientific questions that are not only central to his guilt or innocence, but that have implications for every single death investigation in the state. - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/173014/death-row-prisoner-larry-swearingen-may-be-innocent-do-texas-courts-care#sthash.OrXz2beV.dpufIn Swearingen's case, the courts have demonstrated little tolerance for scientific questions that are not only central to his guilt or innocence, but that have implications for every single death investigation in the state. - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/173014/death-row-prisoner-larry-swearingen-may-be-innocent-do-texas-courts-care#sthash.OrXz2beV.dpufIn Swearingen's case, the courts have demonstrated little tolerance for scientific questions that are not only central to his guilt or innocence, but that have implications for every single death investigation in the state. - See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/173014/death-row-prisoner-larry-swearingen-may-be-innocent-do-texas-courts-care#sthash.OrXz2beV.dpuf

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Legal costs mount in HISD bribery lawsuit

Houston Chronicle

February 19, 2013

Ericka Mellon

HISD has spent more than $900,000 defending the school district and trustee Larry Marshall in a bribery lawsuit headed for an October trial after attorneys failed to reach a settlement this month.

Agreeing on a deal would cost taxpayers more cash, but would secure an end to the high-profile lawsuit filed in December 2010, and would keep new details from being revealed in a public trial.

Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said one benefit of settling the case "is that the dirty laundry remains cloaked and there will be no more information publicly coming out, at least through this proceeding."

He added, "There's a certain benefit for the plaintiffs to litigate this matter. The more that comes out, the more embarrassing it is for Mr. Marshall and HISD."

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DA freezes 125 cases in wake of investigators' arrest, probe

Houston Chronicle

Brian Rogers

February 13, 2013

The Harris County district attorney said Tuesday he has frozen 125 pending criminal cases after an FBI probe of two former investigators, one of whom was arrested, cast doubt on the men's credibility.

"I am hopeful that their involvement will have had little impact on the validity of the cases, but I cannot in good conscience agree to guilty pleas until all the facts are known," District Attorney Mike Anderson said in a release.

Lonnie Blevins was arrested last week, accused of selling thousands of dollars worth of rare comic books that were evidence in a case he worked on last year. Dustin Deutsch is also under federal investigation, the office confirmed.

Anderson's statement did not address the case of Anthony Chiofalo, a disbarred lawyer accused of embezzling more than $9 million from his employer and sinking the money into collectibles, including comic books, and sports memorabilia.

Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates represents Tadano American Corporation, the employer in the embezzlement case.

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I-Team questions lead to FBI internal investigation

Jeremy Rogalski / I-Team

khou 11

February 11, 2013

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating one of its own after the I-Team observed the questionable activities of one of its agents.

"Some heavy questions need to be asked," said Phillip Hilder.

Hilder was the lead attorney of a U.S. Justice Department task force and he trusts the Bureau.

"I do think that (FBI) investigations are pretty thorough, they do hold people's feet to the fire," Hilder said.

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Justice Department, states weigh action against Moody's

Reuters

Aruna Viswanatha and Luciana Lopez

February 7, 2013

The Justice Department and multiple states are discussing also suing Moody's Corp for defrauding investors, according to people familiar with the matter, but any such move will likely wait until a similar lawsuit against rival Standard and Poor's is tested in the courts.

Inquiries into Moody's are in the early stages, largely because state and federal authorities have dedicated more resources to the S&P lawsuit, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about enforcement discussions.

Legal experts say they expect the S&P case might simply be a prelude to more action.

"It may very well be that the government's testing their waters and they don't want to bite off more than they can chew," said Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates in Houston, a former federal prosecutor. "Nobody should take these cases lightly."

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SEC Settles Insider Trading Case With Houston Man

Bloomberg

February 6, 2013

Karen Gullo

On February 6, 2013 SEC settled an insider trading case with Firm client James Balchan from Houston who allegedly bought National Semiconductor Corp. shares based on a tip learned from his lawyer wife, Mr. Balchan was represented by Philip Hilder and Stephanie McGuire.

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Former Harris Co. investigator arrested

abc 13

February 5, 2013

Former investigator arrested for stealing valuable comic books from a defendant accused of embezzling money from his former employer . Philip Hilder is counsel for the company.

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Former Harris Co. investigator accused of stealing valuable comic books

Houston Chronicle

February 5, 2013

Brian Rogers

A former investigator with the Harris County district attorney's office will appear in federal court Tuesday, accused by authorities of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in comic books from a defendant in an embezzlement case and trying to sell them.

Lonnie Blevins, who left Houston to work in San Antonio, was arrested after a lengthy federal investigation into items that disappeared from the home and storage units of a disbarred lawyer facing charges that he stole from his employer.

Philip Hilder, an attorney for Tadano, has said the company is working to track down everything that Chiofalo bought to try to recover as much money as possible.

"The case against Chiofalo is solid," Hilder said. "But this could have an impact on the amount of restitution in his case."

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Death Row Inmate Larry Swearingen's Execution Stayed

Firm client Larry Swearingen received a stay of execution January 30, 2013 signed by Montgomery County 9th District Judge Kelly Case. Mr. Swearingen is represented by James Rytting and Philip Hilder.

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Death Row Inmate Larry Swearingen's Execution Stayed

The Texas Tribune

Brandi Grissom

January 30, 2013

A Montgomery County judge on Wednesday withdrew an order that had set the execution of condemned murderer Larry Swearingen for Feb. 27. Swearingen's lawyers James Rytting and Philip Hilder have asked for more time to perform DNA testing.

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Judge delays execution of man in Montgomery Co. murder case

abc 13

January 30, 2013

Firm client, death row inmate Larry Swearingen received a stay of execution January 30, 2013 for DNA testing. Mr. Swearingen are represented by James Rytting and Philip Hilder.

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Test the DNA-Will Texas put an innocent man to death?

Houston Chronicle

January 30, 2013

The Chronicle has called for Firm client, death row inmate Larry Swearingen to have DNA testing. Mr. Swearingen is represented by James Rytting and Philip Hilder of Hilder and Associates.

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Montgomery Co. DA approves death-row inmate's request for more DNA testing

abc news

January 25, 2013

DNA testing is sought for Death Row inmate Larry Swearengen who is scheduled to be executed next month. James Rytting of Hilder & Associates, P.C. is lead counsel.

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Public officials, public business and cronies

January 25, 2013

Houston Chronicle

Philip Hilder was quoted in an op-ed published in the Houston Chronicle about HISD Board Member Larry Marshall. Being a public servant has certain duties and responsibilities," Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor and white-collar criminal-defense lawyer, told Chronicle reporter Ericka Mellon. "Simply put, as a public servant, you can't take money or something of value directly or indirectly for a promise to do something. If you do, that would constitute bribery. Even if there's not a quid pro quo, it could still be viewed as an illegal gratuity."

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Attorneys for condemned man seek DNA testing in Montgomery County case

Houston Chronicle

Erin Mulvaney

January 17, 2013

Lawyers, including Hilder & Associates James Rytting, for a death row inmate set to be executed next month will seek DNA testing under a recent Texas law.

A motion filed Thursday in Montgomery County by the New York-based Innocence Project requests testing of crime scene evidence to support Larry Swearingen's claims of innocence for the 1999 murder of 19-year-old college student Melissa Trotter. Swearingen is scheduled to be executed on Feb. 27.

The motion follows a 2011 Texas law that provides the right to conduct testing on any crime scene that can yield evidence of innocence.

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Former in-house attorney faces up to life in prison if convicted of $9M theft

Daily Report

Brenda Sapino Jeffreys

Anthony Chiofalo, a former in-house lawyer in Houston who was charged along with his wife with stealing $9.3 million from his company, is in custody in Harris County, Texas, facing the prospect of life in prison if convicted.

That's not the only legal problem facing Chiofalo and his wife, Susan Cardenas Chiofalo. His former employer, Tadano America Corp. (TAC) of Houston, filed a state court civil suit against him and a federal court civil suit against his wife. Both suits seek damages consisting of the money the Chiofalos allegedly stole.

Philip Hilder, an attorney representing TAC, says the company filed the civil suits to recover as much of the money as possible. Hilder, who TAC hired in 2012 to conduct an internal investigation into what he described in June 2012 as an "uncharacteristic spike in litigation," says the company has recovered assets, including collectibles, which potentially are worth millions of dollars. But Hilder says he's not confident the company can recover all of the $9.3 million.

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Judge denies bond for former in-house lawyer charged with stealing more than $9.3 million

January 7, 2013

Texas Lawyer Blog

A former in-house lawyer in Houston who was charged in June 2012 with stealing more than $9.3 million from his company was denied bond this morning.

Judge Maria Jackson of the 339th District Court denied bond to Anthony Chiofalo, who turned himself in to authorities in December 2012, seven months after the Harris County District Attorney's office issued an arrest warrant for him.

Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, who was hired by TAC in 2011 to conduct an internal investigation into what he described in June 2012 as an "uncharacteristic spike in litigation" says the company has recovered assets, including collectibles, that potentially are worth millions of dollars, but Hilder is not confident the company can recover all of the $9.3 million.

On Aug. 27, 2012, Jackson signed an order authoring the seizure of items from several storage units the order describes as controlled by Chiafalo and his wife and awarded the items to TAC as "partial restitution." The order includes an 84-page exhibit list of items to be seized.

"We're still pursuing leads," says Hilder, of Hilder & Associates of Houston.

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Fugitive in $9M theft case had high-priced collectibles

January 7, 2013

Houston Chronicle

Brian Rogers

When authorities raided Anthony Chiofalo's home and storage units after he was accused of embezzling more than $9 million from his employer, they found hundreds of valuable items including a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, a first edition Playboy and the first ever Batman comic book, worth about $900,000.

Company officials became suspicious last year and Chiofalo last June was charged with felony theft. Before he could be arrested, the lawyer fled Houston and spent seven months on the lam.

In December, he turned himself in because, his lawyer said, he was affected by the recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Chiofalo's attorney said his client was living in a garage apartment in a Rhode Island neighborhood full of children.

Philip Hilder, an attorney for Tadano, said Monday that Chiofalo took advantage of a position of trust at the company.

"If Mr. Chiofalo wanted to cooperate, he wouldn't have fled," Hilder said. "He would have turned himself in seven months ago."

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Attorney accused of $9 million theft from Houston company faces judge

abc 13

Erik Barajas

A man accused of spending millions of dollars of company funds on sports and comic memorabilia was in court Monday morning after six months on the run.

Wearing an orange Harris County Jail jumpsuit, Anthony Chiofalo finally went before a judge. The 51-year-old is charged with embezzling more than $9 million from his employer. He was on the run for months with loads of cash.

"He had $150,000 in cash, and had been on the run for seven months. Nobody knew where he was," said his attorney Paul Doyle.

Chiofalo was head of legal affairs for Tadano America. The northwest Houston company produces high-end commercial cranes. Prosecutors say Chiofalo created a fake law firm funneling away millions to his personal account.

"He was in a position of trust and took advantage of that trust, in his position as legal director," said Tadano America attorney Philip Hilder.

Tadana reps say he only turned himself because he knew law enforcement was on his trail in Newport, Rhode Island.

"If Mr. Chiofalo wanted to cooperate, he would have not fled and turned himself in seven months ago," Hilder said.

Chio Court

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Suspect in $9 million theft from Houston company turns himself in

abc 13

Jessica Willey

Investigators have booked and processed into the Harris County Jail a fugitive accused of stealing about $9 million.

Early this morning, Anthony Chiofalo was walked into the Harris County jail in handcuffs. He had been running from felony theft charges for six months until he suddenly surrendered.

Almost two weeks after a Newport, Rhode Island court appearance, Chiofalo is on his way back to Texas. The 51-year-old turned himself in to police in Newport the week before Christmas along with $150,000 in cash.

Chiofalo was the head of legal affairs and investigators say in that role he was able to funnel money to a fake law firm that he created. With the millions he's accused of stealing, prosecutors believe he bought hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of comic books and sports collectibles.

"The company wants to see that justice be done," said Tadano's attorney Philip Hilder. "He was a valued employee they trusted and he stole from them."

Chio Office

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Houston lawyer accused of embezzling $9 million arrested in Rhode Island

Houston Chronicle

Brian Rogers

January 3, 2013

A Houston lawyer who has been on the run since June when he was accused of stealing more than $9 million from his employer now wants to take responsibility for his actions and was expected to be returned to Houston, his lawyer said.

Anthony Chiofalo turned himself in weeks ago at a Rhode Island police station, said attorney Paul Doyle. Authorities were expected to bring Chiofalo to Houston Thursday night.

He wants to take responsibility, to make this right" Doyle said. "When he showed up at the Rhode Island jail, he took them $150,000 in cash."

"He's been gone for six months," said Philip Hilder, an attorney for the company. "That is not indicative of someone who wants to be cooperative."

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