Texas Attorney General’s Securities Fraud Trial to Wait Until End of Impeachment TrialThe Seattle Times – Juan A. Lozano – August 2, 2023A federal judge in Houston ordered an international shipping company to pay a $1.5 million fine after it admitted to releasing untreated oily bilge water off the coast of West Africa in 2021 and then attempting to conceal those illegal discharges.Houston Public Media
Houston Judge Hits Shipping Company with $1.5mil Fine for Attempts to Conceal Oily DischargeHouston Public Media – Adam Zuvanich – July 7, 2023A federal judge in Houston ordered an international shipping company to pay a $1.5 million fine after it admitted to releasing untreated oily bilge water off the coast of West Africa in 2021 and then attempting to conceal those illegal discharges.Houston Public Media
EPA Urges 5th Circ. To Uphold $20M Exxon Pollution FineLaw 360 Madeline Lyskawa May 2, 2023The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency joined a collection of nonprofit groups in calling on the full Fifth Circuit to uphold Exxon Mobil Corp.’s $20 million fine for Texas air pollution, saying Environment Texas Citizen Lobby has adequately shown that its members were injured by the company’s conduct.Law 360
Firm Whistleblower Client Responsible for Hospital $18.2 Million Settlement in False Claims CaseDecember 2, 2021Firm client was the whistleblower on a Dallas area hospital that agreed to pay a $18.2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting claims to Medicaid, Medicare and the TRICARE program in the violation of the anti-kickback statute and the Stark law.The law firm of Hilder & Associates, P.C. brings cases on behalf of whistleblowers who have evidence that government funds are being misspent.DOJ Press Release
Rapper’s rowdy past raises red flags in Astroworld lawsuitsAPBernard CondonNovember 10, 2021“Whatever security they had was wholly insufficient,” said former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, a Houston lawyer not involved in any Astroworld case. “The crowd went right through.”Hilder also criticized the event’s 56-page planning document, which was submitted to the city for approval. He said the plans were “boilerplate,” with too few details about the safety of the parking lot where the performance was held, which had no seating or aisles and no pens to contain the crowds.AP
Angels Defeat ‘Fishing Expedition’ Subpoena In Fatal OD CaseLaw 360Max JaegerNovember 9, 2021A Texas Federal Judge chided prosecutors for their “glairing” failure to properly subpoena the Los Angeles Angels baseball team and refused to bless a “government fishing expedition”. The Angles are represented by Philip Hilder, Stephanie McGuire and Q. Tate Williams.Law 360
Prof. Implicated As Chinese Agent Says NASA Knew His WorkLaw360 (November 5, 2021, 8:02 PM EDT) — A former Texas A&M University professor denied the U.S. Department of Justice’s allegations that he shared NASA-funded research with a Chinese university, saying his grant allowed him to collaborate with researchers around the world, even if they were from China.Law 360
Green Groups Blast Exxon’s ‘Tortured’ Appeal Of $14M AwardLaw 360October 8, 2021Law360 (October 8, 2021, 3:38 PM EDT) — Environmental groups have told the Fifth Circuit that ExxonMobil Corp. is engaging in a “tortured and unsuccessful attempt” to wriggle itself out of a $14 million verdict for pollution violations at a Texas facility.Law 360
Paxton Prosecutors Push To Keep Fraud Case In HoustonLaw 360October 5, 2021Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, who is defending Paxton, said this appeal rehashed the “same old lame, meritless arguments” that have been rejected by two district court judges and the First Court of Appeals.“This filing is a dilatory maneuver to further deny Mr. Paxton his right to a speedy trial,” Hilder said.Paxton is represented by, Philip H. Hilder and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates PC,Law 360
Court Refuses Again To Keep Paxton Fraud Case In HoustonLaw 360September 22, 2021A Texas appellate court in Houston on Thursday denied a request for rehearing en banc lodged by the special prosecutors pursuing felony securities fraud charges against state Attorney General Ken Paxton, clearing the way for the case to return to Collin County, where it began.Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, who represents Paxton, praised the court’s ruling in a statement.“The court’s decision not to revisit their prior holding that the case be returned to Collin County for trial sends a clear, decisive message to the special prosecutors to get on with the merits of the case,” he said.Law 360
Angels Rip Feds’ ‘Baseless’ Privilege Fight In Fatal OD CaseLaw 360September 9, 2021Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder, Q. Tate Williams and Stephanie K. McGuire represent Angels Baseball.Law 360
Inside a $ 45 Billion Retail Crime SpreeWall Street JournalSeptember 2, 2021Firm client has been falsely accused of running an Amazon storefront that sold stolen goods between 2018 and 2020. Firm attorney Q. Tate Williams said that there was no direct evidence that client was aware of the theft. Mr. Williams stated that “He denies and intends to vigorously defend these charges.”Hilder and Associates, P.C. vigorously defends individuals and businesses accused of violations of white collar fraud. Contact Firm for consultation at 713-655-9111.Wall Street Journal
Texas AG Paxton Fights En Banc Review Of Fraud Case MoveLaw 360July 19, 2021Texas Attorney General Ken Paxon is denying accusation that he “sandbagged” the judiciary against the special prosecutors. Mr. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder and Q. Tate Williams.Law 360
Ex-oil contractor sentenced to a year for PDVSA bribery schemeGlobal Investigations ReviewJuly 8, 2021On July 8 2021 Charles Beech was sentenced by a Houston Federal Court to a year in prison for his role in a conspiracy to bribe officials at Petroleos de Venezuela SA in violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices act FCPA.“We are satisfied with this sentence considering the government sought a long unwarranted incarceration,” said Beech’s lawyer Philip Hilder a white collar criminal defense attorney at Hilder and Associates. “Mr. Beech is relieved that this lengthy ordeal stretching years is resolved.” Hilder said that prosecutors sought a sentence of 45 months.Philip Hilder and the firm of Hilder and Associates, PC represent individuals accused of FCPA violations.Global Investigations Review
A History of Corporate Whistleblower Protection Laws and the Efforts to Undermine ThemWhistleblower Network NewsJuly 13, 2021Sherron Watkins recently published an article about the history of corporate whistleblower laws, her experience as a whistleblower during the Enron Corporation’s Accounting Scandal and working with her representation, attorney Philip Hilder. On working with Hilder, Sherron says, “No one was in my corner until Philip Hilder decided to represent me… Philip was the perfect attorney, he had been a DOJ attorney, he’d represented clients in Congressional hearings, and he understood that criminal charges were likely for the wrongdoers at Enron.” The article goes over her experience throughout the federal investigation, congressional hearing, criminal trial of Ken Lay and various other legal challenges she faced with the help Philip Hilder.Whistleblower Network News
Texas Appeals Court Pauses Reassignment Of Paxton CaseLaw 360June 17, 2021A Texas appellate court on Tuesday granted a request from the special prosecutors bringing felony securities fraud charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to stay the case while it considers whether to rehear en bane a panel’s decision sending the suit back to Paxton’s home county. Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, who represents Paxton, told Law360 in a statement on Tuesday that the majority’s opinion in Paxton’s favor was “strong, solid and well reasoned.”. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates PC.Law 360
Prosecutors In ‘Texas AG Fraud Case Blast Transfer DecisionLaw 360June 9, 2021The special prosecutors pursuing felony securities fraud charges against the Texas attorney general have urged en bane reconsideration of an appellate panel’s decision that the case belongs in Collin County instead of Harris County, saying the decision will “haunt” Texas courts if not corrected.Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, an attorney for Paxton, issued a statement to Law360 on Wednesday calling the motion’s sandbagging accusation a “ridiculous and absurd assertion.” “We raised the issue upon discovery. The law is crystal clear that a challenge to the court’s authority can be lodged right up until trial. To date there is still no trial date,” Hilder said. “We are confident the court of appeals decision Will stand. Their argument is a re-tread that has been solidly dismissed.Law 360
AP Exclusive: State bar investigating Texas attorney generalThe TelegraphJune 9, 2021DALLAS (AP) — The Texas bar association is investigating whether state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election based on bogus claims of fraud amounted to professional misconduct.The State Bar of Texas initially declined to take up a Democratic Party activist’s complaint that Paxton’s petitioning of the U.S. Supreme Court to block Joe Biden’s victory was frivolous and unethical. But a tribunal that oversees grievances against lawyers overturned that decision late last month and ordered the bar to look into the accusations against the Republican official.The Telegraph
AG Ken Paxton’s criminal trial should be held in his home county, court rules5/28/2021Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony trial on securities fraud charges should be held in Collin County where Paxton lives, not in Harris County, a Houston appeals court ruled early Thursday morning. Mr. Paxton is represented by firm counsel Philip H. Hilder and Q. Tate Williams.Houston Chronicle
Texas AG’s Securities Fraud Suit Will Return To His Home TurfLaw3605/27/2021A split Texas appellate court on Thursday determined the felony securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton should be tried in Collin County, not Harris County.The First Court of Appeals panel ruled that the state failed to show that the judge who originally transferred the case to Harris County — amid allegations of a tainted jury pool in Paxton’s home county — had jurisdiction over the case at the time of the transfer. Paxton’s defense team had argued the judge’s assignment orders giving him authority to preside over the case had expired before the transfer order was issued.Click For Full StoryLink to Full Opinion
Philip H. Hilder Appeared on Fox to discuss the guilty murder verdict of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd4/20/2021Philip H. Hilder appeared on Fox 26 to discuss and analyze the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd case Tuesday , April 20, 2021.Fox 26
Federal Judge again orders record penalty against Exxon for thousands of Clean Air Act ViolationsOn March 2, 2021, a federal judge ordered a $14 million penalty against ExxonMobil — the largest civil penalty ever imposed in a citizen-initiated Clean Air Act suit. Hilder & Associates, P.C. client, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club originally took ExxonMobil to court for their violations of the Clean Air Act back in 2010. After a decade-long legal battle and two trips to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Judge ordered the record breaking penalty.Press Release
Lawyer tied to Texas AG probe found tracking device on truckWSILTVA Texas lawyer says he found a tracking device on his pickup truck during an escalating court battle with a businessman at the center of an FBI investigation into Attorney General Ken Paxton. In a court filing Monday, Steve Lemmon offered no evidence of how the tracker came to be on his truck and acknowledged not knowing who put it there. But he says “the surveillance clearly appears to be tied to” his case with Nate Paul. Paul’s lawyer called the allegation shocking and says he has no reason to believe Paul was involved. Paxton’s defenses attorney, Philip Hilder, declined to comment.WSILTV
US to resume deporting asylum seekers after judge rejects Biden orderThe GuardianUS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) is preparing to resume deportations of asylum seekers after a Trump-appointed Texas judge ruled against a 100-day suspension ordered by Joe Biden.The ruling, in response to a challenge from a leading figure in the Republican effort to overturn the election result, marks the first shot in a legal rearguard action by Trump loyalists intended to stymie the Biden administration’s agenda.The Guardian
In FBI probe, Texas AG faces aggressive, ethical prosecutorAPTexas Attorney General Ken Paxton has spent years dodging legal and public relations blows that might have knocked others out of politics. The Republican has so far proven too wily for political opponents and prosecutors, winning reelection and rising to national prominence as a conservative crusader even while under felony indictment.But criminal allegations from Paxton’s top deputies have set him up to square off against a formidable new opponent: A federal prosecutor with a team of seasoned FBI agents and a track record of getting corrupt public officials sent to prison.More recently, Paxton’s failed effort to have the U.S. Supreme Court throw out Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election prompted speculation that the attorney general is angling for a preemptive pardon in the waning weeks of Trump’s administration. Paxton’s defense attorney, Philip Hilder, declined to comment.AP
Ken Paxton has had Trump’s back. But the Texas attorney general’s latest gambit has failed.The Washington PostDecember 12, 2020The Texas attorney general who tried to orchestrate President Trump’s last stand spent most of his career under indictment for state securities fraud, but his closeness to the president had buffed that tarnish. Trump listens to Ken Paxton. He called so often the White House once caught him in the shower. And the state attorney general had the digits to call him back.The Washington Post
FBI is investigating Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, AP report saysTexas TribuneNovember 18, 2020The FBI is investigating allegations that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton broke the law in using his office to benefit a wealthy donor, according to two people with knowledge of the probe. A criminal defense attorney for Paxton, Philip Hilder, declined to comment. Spokespersons in the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.AP
Prosecutors in Ken Paxton’s criminal case point out irony in Texas AG’s $300-an-hour hireHouston ChronicleOctober 12, 2020Paxton’s attorney Philip Hilder in a response filing said prosecutors’ brief lacked “any legal analysis or merit,” and the rate paid by Paxton to the special prosecutor in the Paul investigation was “wholly unrelated to the issues in this case.“It is a naked attempt to insert irrelevant sensational allegations into this case to cause this Court to render a decision on an improper basis because there is no legal one,” Hilder wrote.Houston Chronicle
Texas congressman calls on state attorney general to resignAPOctober 5, 2020A Republican congressman from Texas became the most prominent member of his party to call for the resignation of the state’s Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, after Paxton’s top deputies reported him to law enforcement for alleged crimes including bribery and abuse of office. Paxton’s defense attorney, Philip Hilder, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.The Registered Citizen, APTalk Radio 1370AM
Letter: Top Deputies accuse Texas Attorney General of CrimesAPOctober 5, 2020Philip Hilder, the attorney general’s defense lawyer, declined to comment Sunday.The Register Citizen, AP
Firm client Travis Dwight Green’s petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was grantedPress ReleaseAugust 18, 2020Firm client Travis Dwight Green’s petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus was granted by the Federal Court in a 108-page opinion. Firm attorney James Rytting was successful in his position arguing for relief. Travis Dwight Green was convicted of capital murder in 2000 in Texas state court, and was sentenced to death. The federal court held an evidentiary hearing on Mr. Green’s incompetency claim and received extensive post-hearing briefing by Mr. Rytting. Having considered the evidence developed at the hearing and the thorough arguments and briefing of counsel, the Court has determined that Green is entitled to federal habeas corpus relief that the State of Texas conduct new proceedings against Mr. Green within 180 days.Link to Full OpinionPress Release
Enron Whistleblower named “Whistleblower of the Week”Houston ChronicleAugust 17, 2020Sherron Watkins was named was named “Whistleblower of the week”. Firm counsel Philip Hilder represented Ms. Watkins during the collapse of Enron before Congress and with the various Governmental Agencies.Front Line Whistleblower News
Appeals Court again deals major blow to Exxon’s attempt to avoid responsibility for record-setting Clean Air Act violationPress ReleaseJuly 29, 2020In another stinging setback for ExxonMobil Corporation in a long-running environmental enforcement case, the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected nearly every argument Exxon raised in its appeal of the $19.95 million penalty previously imposed by a federal trial court judge. That trial court punished the company for committing 16,386 days of violation of the federal Clean Air Act at its Baytown, Texas, refinery and chemical plant.The groups are represented by the National Environmental Law Center; attorney David Nicholas of Newton, Mass.; and Houston attorneys Philip Hilder and Will Graham.OrderFull Press Release
Texas AG Ken Paxton was indicted for fraud five years ago will he ever face a Jury?Dallas Morning NewsJuly 27, 2020The case against Texas AG Paxton has been delayed multiple times. Will it ever go to trial? Firm counsel Philip Hilder is co- lead defense counsel to AG Paxton.Dallas Morning News
Firm client awarded whistleblower reward form the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)Houston, Texas July 21, 2020 The CFTC announced it will provide more than $1,000,000 to two whistleblowers who provided original information that led to a successful enforcement action. The CFTC stated that the client “Significantly contributed to the matter by providing investigative staff with first-hand information obtained through participation in the underlying scheme.” The whistleblower is represented by Firm counsel Philip Hilder and Paul Creech.Award Order Notice of Award
Lawyers Weigh In After Judge Fights the Law–and LosesTexas LawyerJuly 8, 2020Philip Hilder, Firm Principal was asked to comment on prosecutorial misconduct, and the consequence.Hilder, who worked as a federal prosecutor for almost seven years, said that if prosecutors are involved in egregious wrongdoing, he thinks they should have to face lawsuits. There is already a mechanism that allows people who were wrongly prosecuted to hold prosecutors accountable, he said.“Those are few and far between,” said Hilder. “If they violate certain ethical responsibilities, then they can be held accountable as well, by losing their license or in some cases actually being sued as well. Those are high bars. But they are there nonetheless to reign in prosecutors that are overstepping their authority.”Texas Lawyer
Once ‘the golden boy,’ ex-Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is out of prison and as fascinating as everHouston ChronicleJune 26, 2020Philip Hilder, Firm Principal and attorney for Sherron Watkins, Enron whistle-blower, was asked to comment.Skilling will always be fascinating because his rise and fall affected so many people in Houston who lost their retirement savings, arts groups that lost their funding and civic leaders who were counting on the success of Enron, said Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer. Hilder represented former Enron executive Sherron Watkins, the whistleblower who took her concerns about accounting shenanigans to Lay, the Enron chairman.Skilling, Hilder said, was viewed as smart and talented — for a while.“He was admired,” said Hilder, “until he was exposed.”Houston Chronicle
Judge orders Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal case back to Collin CountyHouston ChronicleJune 25, 2020State District Judge Robert Johnson, in a hearing conducted virtually over Zoom, agreed with Paxton’s attorneys that the original change of venue three years ago, from Collin County to Harris County, was invalid because the presiding judge’s appointment to handle the case had expired before he approved the move.Houston Chronicle
Criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will return to his native Collin County, judge rulesTexas TribuneJune 25, 2020Years after it was sent to Harris County, the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will move back to his native Collin County, a Harris County judge ruled Thursday.Paxton, a Republican, was indicted in 2015 on felony securities fraud charges, but the case has yet to go to trial as side battles persist over the venue where he will be tried and the amount the special prosecutors will be paid.Paxton’s defense attorneys applauded the decision — and said they are eager to try the long-running case. Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder, Q. Tate Williams, and Paul L. Creech represent Mr. Paxton.Texas Tribune
Critics call for police oversight with teethHouston Chronicle June 14, 2020The lead story is that critics call for police oversight with teeth. Firm counsel, Philip Hilder, a former member of the Board stated that a full-time executive director and paid staff were needed to handle the Board’s “many responsibilities”. Hilder went on to state that “the mandate is quite broad in terms what is expected of IPOB volunteers,…it’s very much like drinking out of a fire hose.”Houston Chronicle
Opinion: Make the independent police oversight board actually independentHouston ChronicleJune 8, 2020Philip H. HilderHouston will benefit by embracing an effective, strong and visible Independent Police Oversight Board that keeps its police department accountable to the people. Accountability and transparency are necessary to maintain a responsive police force. Community policing is morphing into militarization around the country as police adopt military culture, equipment and tactics, and the federal government has promoted this seismic shift. This trend is dangerous because it carries the potential to further divide the police from the community.Full Houston Chronicle Opinion PieceHilder & Associates Law Blog
Calls grow louder for transparency, independent oversight of HPD amid police brutality protestsClick 2 HoustonJune 3, 2020Firm counsel Philip Hilder was asked to comment on the Police Oversight Committee which he was a part of from 2011-2018 . The voices calling for transparency and independent police oversight grew louder following several recent officer-involved shootings and the death of George Floyd. Houston has a long-established independent police oversight board, but critics question whether the board is given enough authority. “Pretty much rely on the goodwill of the police department to turn over documentation to them,” said defense attorney and past oversight board member Phil Hilder. Hilder praises the work of the 21-member volunteer board but recommended giving the board more authority before stepping down. “It needs to be able to have the ability to have an independent investigation,” said Hilder. “The structure and the bones are there for the oversight board but it needs to be built upon.”Click 2 Houston Story
Federal Court Orders New Trial For Hilder & Associates, P.C. Client On Death RowPress Release05/20/2020Firm counsel James Rytting has successfully argued for the release of Ronald J. Prible, a Firm client convicted of capital murder in 2002. Mr. Rytting has been challenging the conviction of Mr. Prible for over a decade. On May 20, 2020 Judge Ellison granted relief and ordered the release of Mr. Prible in 180 days should the State decides against bringing new proceedings. Mr Prible is also represent by Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder.Prible Press Release
Federal judge orders new trial for death row inmate in Houston capital murder caseHouston ChronicleMay 20, 2020After a decade, Firm attorney, James Rytting successfully petitioned the court to order the release of or new trial for death row inmate Ronald Prible. In an 88-page court order, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison said Prible should be released if the state does not begin new criminal proceedings within 180 days. Prible’s appellate attorneys have been challenging the conviction for more than a decade. Judge Ellison agreed with their claims that the state suppressed and withheld evidence in the original prosecution.“I’ve had this case for 12 years, and the takeaway is that we have a client who has been on death row for 12 years, placed there on informant testimony of the sort that should not be used to put anybody on death row or in prison,” said Prible’s appellate attorney James Rytting. “It’s a serious problem within the federal and state system, and we were fortunate that other inmates in the case came forward and said he was set up.”Houston Chronicle Article
Firm counsel Philip Hilder commented on Exxon Mobil’s bare-knuckle negotiations citing his experience with the companyReutersApril 30, 2020Exxon Mobil Corp is using the coronavirus to increase its leverage in labor and real estate negotiations by alternately doomsaying and dismissing the pandemic’s consequences, labor sources and lawyers dealing with the company said.Reuters Article
Firm counsel, Philip Hilder was asked by the Houston Chronicle to comment on the Houston Astro policy relating to the virus seasonHouston Chronicle April 28, 2020As Astros full- and partial-season ticket holders learned Wednesday that they will be offered account credits while single-game buyers get refunds for games through May 31, they continue to wonder if, or when, they will return to Minute Maid Park in 2020.Houston Chronicle
Where Texas AG’s Securities Fraud Case Stands After 5 YearsLaw 360 April 21, 2020Article recaps the status of the prosecution of the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton of violating State Securities laws. Mr. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Q. Tate Williams and Paul L. CreechLaw 360 Link Law 360 Article
FBI Investigates Houston School AdministratorABC February 28, 2020The FBI spent Thursday morning carting away boxes and computers from the Houston Independent School District’s administration building and visiting the Spring home of Chief Operating Officer Brian Busby. Philip Hilder and the Firm represent Mr. Busby.ABC Article
Hilder & Associates Earns US News – Best Lawyers Honors for Fifth YearFirm selected for commercial litigation, white-collar criminal defense in Houston PRESS RELEASE
Ex-Judge fights Probation Officer’s Recommendation to Quadruple His SentenceLaw.comSeptember 13, 2019White-collar defense attorney Philip Hilder, who isn’t involved in Delgado’s case, said that because Delgado was a public official when he committed the offenses, his base offense level for sentencing purposes is 14, which brings between 1.25 and 1.75 years in federal prison.Hilder reviewed Delgado’s objection and noted that it says the presentence investigation report had recommended an additional 14 levels in upward adjustment, which would bring the total offense level to 28. That level brings between six and a half to just over eight years’ imprisonment, he said.“Even if he’s successful and beats back every one of the adjustments, the judge would still land in Zone D, level 14, which would require incarceration,” Hilder added.Delgado’s objection said that the probation office recommended the upward adjustments because he took more than one bribe, the value of payment was over $6,500, and his convictions included a charge of obstruction of justice. He is attacking those last two factors regarding the bribes’ values and the obstruction charge, which amount to eight levels of the adjustment.If Delgado successfully knocks off eight levels, he’d still face between 2.75 and 3.4 years in prison, noted Hilder, a principal in Hilder & Associates in Houston.LAW.COM
Larry Swearingen, who claimed science excluded him as killer, is executed by TexasWashington PostAugust 22, 2019One issue not raised at trial was the state of Trotter’s body. Although the medical examiner testified that Trotter probably had been dead for 25 days – the amount of time between when she disappeared and when her body was found – numerous forensic experts have since testified for the defense that Trotter had probably only been dead for about two weeks or less. Texas prosecutors argued, and the courts agreed, that the science of “post-mortem interval” was inexact and that the differing time estimates were not convincing. Prosecutors noted that Trotter had the same food in her stomach that she was last seen eating at the college student center and was wearing the same clothes.Swearingen’s lawyer for the past 15 years, James Rytting, said that if Trotter had been dead for 25 days, the food would have disintegrated; that it wasn’t the same food; and that if she had been held captive, she wouldn’t have been “taken to Macy’s to freshen up.”Rytting added, “The whole thing is nonsense, forensics at its worst.” Link
Larry Swearingen to be ExecutedKHOUAugust 21, 2019Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said there are too many questions surrounding his client’s case and hoped a last-minute appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court would keep Swearingen out of the death chamber once again. That appeal was denied by the U.S. Supreme Court.Those questions center around the pantyhose used to kill Trotter. Prosecutors said they came from Swearingen’s home and belonged to his wife. They said half was found in his home while the other half was used to strangle Trotter.“They were pushed and pulled, until they matched,” Rytting said. “It’s neither science, nor forensic science. It’s about the level of a junior high art project.”In a letter from the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab director to Swearingen’s attorneys, Rytting said it retracts the trial testimony from a criminologist that claimed the pantyhose matched.Rytting also challenges the timeline, arguing that Swearingen couldn’t have killed Trotter because he was in jail at the time. And he points to outside forensic experts who have reviewed the case and who all agree: Trotter’s body had been in the forest anywhere from a few days to two weeks.“The convergence of opinions have been ignored by the courts, but they have latched on to invalid forensic theories,” Rytting said. Link
Did faulty science, and bad testimony, bring Larry Swearingen to the brink of execution?Washington PostAugust 17, 2019Two experts in fiber analysis who compared the pieces of hose have since concluded they don’t match when lined up next to each other, and a third said the state technician’s testimony was overstated. And last month, the Texas Department of Public Safety said the technician should not have testified the pieces matched “to the exclusion of all others.”Swearingen, who has maintained his innocence, is set to be executed Wednesday. His lawyers, citing the pantyhose testimony and other evidence they contend is flawed, are trying to halt it.Swearingen’s lawyers, James Rytting of Houston and Bryce Benjet of the Innocence Project in New York, contend that a combination of flawed science and overblown testimony has condemned an innocent man. Among their key arguments, in addition to the pantyhose analysis:
- Blood flakes were found under Trotter’s fingernails, enough to develop a full DNA profile, which was determined to be from a man – but not Swearingen. But a Texas lab technician testified at trial that the blood came from contamination in the lab, not a possible killer. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of Public Safety issued a second letter saying the technician had no evidence of contamination or knowledge of how that would have happened. Link
SEC Charges Two Houston-Area Men with Insider TradingThe Securities and Exchange Commission today announced settled charges against Balaji Sundarraj of Sugar Land, Texas and David O’Brien of Houston, Texas for insider trading in the stock of Opower, Inc. in advance of the May 2, 2016 announcement that Opower had agreed to be acquired by Oracle Corporation as part of a tender offer. They are represented by Philip H. Hilder and Stephanie K. McGuire.
Halliburton employee accused of hiding camera in first class airplane bathroomABC13A Houston man who works for Halliburton is accused of planting a camera inside an airplane bathroom and using it to record women. As these devices become more prevalent, I think you’re going got see a lot more of these cases in the future,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.Cameras are everywhere. Some you can see, some you can’t. Link
Convicted killer Larry Ray Swearingen continues fight to avoid executionClick 2 HoustonAugust 5, 2019Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said he plans to again appeal his client’s death sentence. Rytting said the latest appeal is based on fairly new state law. That law allows a person to win a retrial if the scientific conclusions used as a basis for a conviction can be refuted. “We’re going to challenge it all, all over again,” Rytting said. “We believe that his conviction rests on a pile of junk science.” Rytting has long argued the state got Trotter’s time of death wrong. Testimony during trial stated Trotter died approximately three weeks prior to being found. But Rytting said at least six forensic pathologists have given sworn statements Trotter died sometime after Swearingen was first arrested and therefore he could not be her killer.Rytting also plans to challenge testimony saying that, on the day Trotter disappeared, cell towers put Swearingen along the route from his house to where she was found. “There was no way to place him, as the state maintains they could, in very discreet parts of the county,” Rytting said. Link
Texas AG Ken Paxton’s Criminal Case Likely to Face Further Delays as Attorney Revives Fight Over Venue, Prosecutor PayTexas TribuneJuly 25, 2019Even after the state’s top criminal court ruled and ruled again on a long-running side battle to the criminal case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a trial still seems distant. Both defense attorneys and prosecutors this week filed new legal motions with the potential to spell months of further delays. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C Link
Carpatsky Cleared To Gather Asset Info Over $147M AwardLaw 460July 19, 2019A Ukrainian company’s efforts to nix requests for information about its assets at home failed Wednesday, with a Texas federal judge saying U.S.-based Carpatsky Petroleum Corp. is entitled to round up the details necessary to collect a $147 million dollar arbitral award. Carpatsky is represented by Philip Hilder and Stephanie McGuire of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Criminal case against Attorney General Ken Paxton jeopardized by court rulingHouston ChronicleJune 20, 2019The top criminal court in Texas dealt a blow to the special prosecutors who are pressing felony charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday, a new wrinkle in a securities fraud case that has already stretched across four years and is far from resolved.The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday declined to reconsider an earlier ruling that allowed a $2,000 limit on how much the special prosecutors can be paid for pretrial work. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Texas AG Fraud Case In Limbo After Prosecutor Pay RulingLaw 360June 20, 2019The prosecutors in a felony securities fraud case against the Texas attorney general couldn’t convince a Texas appeals court to reconsider its ruling that they can’t be paid $300 an hour, leaving observers to wonder whether they will make good on a threat to withdraw from the case. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder , Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Valero faces air pollution lawsuit at Port Arthur refineryHouston ChronicleMay 22, 2019Firm counsel Philip Hilder is a part of the trial team that filed a federal lawsuit against Valero Energy at its Port Arthur refinery for violations of the Federal Clean Air Act. This is the Firm’s fourth citizen lawsuit for air emission violations including obtaining a $20 million penalty against ExxonMobil for violations at its Baytown refinery. Link
Ex-Stockman aide sentenced to 18 months in campaign fund scamHouston ChronicleApril 5, 2019Posey’s lawyer, Philip Hilder, said Stockman took advantage of Posey’s abiding loyalty to a man he idolized and considered a father figure.“He followed him to Egypt-why would anybody do that?” Hilder asked. Hilder also reminded the judge of something Posey said on the witness stand, recalling a day the new congressional aides were going around introducing themselves and their jobs in the office. Posey said, “I’m Jason Posey and I just do what I’m told.”The judge commended Posey for helping prosecutors try and convict his former mentor, adding that it’s also important that he be held accountable for his actions. Link
Sixth execution date set for convicted Montgomery County killer Larry SwearingenHouston ChronicleMarch 13, 2019Larry is represented by Firm counsel James Rytting.“We’ve already proved that Larry Swearingen didn’t commit this crime and the forensics have just been ignored,” said defense attorney James Rytting. “We continue to find serious problems with the technical and scientific evidence used to convict him.” Specifically, he said, the cell phone evidence “was complete junk – and we’re going to demonstrate it.” He also called into question other forensics, including fiber analysis and the use of torn pantyhose from near Swearingen’s home that the state said matched material from the crime scene. “The doubts will be there forever, like another Cameron Todd Willingham,” Rytting said, referencing a controversial 2004 execution. Link
Michael Cohen testifies on Capitol HillFox 26 February 28, 2019Philip Hilder was featured on Fox 26 to discuss the Michael Cohen testimony of capital hill. Link
DNA testing results released on death row case of Larry SwearingenFebruary 4, 2019Houston ChronicleMore than a year after prosecutors agreed to DNA testing on decades-old evidence in a Montgomery County death row case, the results are in – and they didn’t reveal anything new. Currently, Swearingen doesn’t have any appeals pending, but Benjet – who is handling the case along with Houston-based attorney James Rytting – hinted at the possibility of more court filings ahead, including claims questioning the cell phone forensics used to pinpoint Swearingen’s location. Link
Citgo executives, arrested by Maduro, forgotten in Venezuela’s turmoilJanuary 31, 2019Houston ChronicleTypically, the U.S. embassy can work to ensure U.S. citizens arrested in foreign countries receive appropriate legal representation and due process, said Philip Hilder, former federal prosecutor in Houston who specializes in white collar criminal justice. In some special circumstances, the embassy could try to work behind the scenes to expedite a case. But any shred of political legitimacy the United States had with Maduro’s government was destroyed by the Trump administration’s recognition of an opposition leader as Venezuela’s legitimate president.“Unfortunately these individuals are caught in a political tug-of-war,” Hilder said, “and their fate won’t be determined until the political situation begins to resolve.” Link
Supreme Court rejects appeal from former Missouri City cop on death rowJanuary 8, 2019Houston ChronicleThe U.S. Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from a former Missouri City police officer convicted of hiring a hitman to kill his wife, one of two Houston-area death row losses in the high court this week.Though he has consistently maintained his innocence, Robert Fratta was sentenced to death in 1996 after a Harris County jury found him guilty of masterminding a murder-for-hire plot designed to do away with his wife Farah.“The rule of law is taking another hit,” said attorney James Rytting, who represents the condemned former officer. “Robert Fratta’s trial was deeply flawed, (he) proved that himself and was penalized for figuring out serious problems with his trial on his own and for trying to bring them to the courts’ attention.” Link
Law 360: Biggest Texas Cases of 2018December 20, 2018: Law360 announced its three biggest Texas cases of 2018. Hilder & Associates, P.C. is connected to two of these cases. The lead case involves the securities fraud charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Philip Hilder, Tate Williams, and Paul Creech of the Firm represent Mr. Paxton as co-counsel.The second case involves the prosecution of former Congressman, Steve Stockman. The Firm, Philip Hilder, Stephanie McGuire, and Sunida Mejia represent co-defendant, Jason Posey. Link
Handling Your First (or Next) False Claims Act CaseNovember 30, 2018Firm counsel, Philip Hilder was a speaker at the Texas Bar CLE program on the False Claims Act Case. The presentation, provided below was titled: Ethical Considerations in False Claim Cases.Texas Bar WebsiteProgram BrochurePresentation
Texas Justices Slash Hourly Pay For Paxton ProsecutorsNovember 21, 2018Law 360Prosecutors bringing a felony securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton were paid an excessive amount for their work by a trial judge who did not follow a fee schedule approved by the county, the highest criminal court in Texas found Wednesday in a split ruling. Philip Hilder, an attorney representing Paxton, deferred comment to Paxton’s spokesman, Jordan Berry. Berry said Paxton was “extremely grateful for the court’s decision.” Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Carpatsky Gets Win In Ukranian Co.’s Contract Breach SuitNovember 14, 2018Law 360A Texas federal judge granted a win to Carpatsky Petroleum Corp. Tuesday in a long-running dispute initiated by a Ukrainian oil company over a soured oil and gas development deal. Philip Hilder is local counsel for Carpatsky. Link
Philip Hilder Named to Top Peer-Reviewed Lawyer Lists in White-Collar Defense and Commercial LitigationNationally recognized Houston lawyer Philip Hilder is being recognized in the 2019 edition of The Best Lawyers in America for both his commercial litigation and white-collar defense work. He is also on the just-released 2018 list of Texas Super Lawyers.The founder of Hilder & Associates, P.C., Mr. Hilder has earned the Best Lawyers listing for his work in the Houston area since 2015. Best Lawyers is the nation’s oldest peer-review legal services guide.
Hilder & Associates named on U.S. News and Best Lawyers Release 2019 “Best Law Firms” ListHilder & Associates, P.C. has been chosen for U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” for the fourth consecutive year. Firms included in the 2019 Edition of “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.Click for Press Release from U.S. News
Make-or-break Senate hearing day for Kavanaugh, accuserFox 26September 27, 2018With high drama in the making, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh emphatically fended off new accusations of sexual misconduct Wednesday and headed into a charged public Senate hearing that could determine whether Republicans can salvage his nomination and enshrine a high court conservative majority. Philip Hilder was asked to comment.
Kavanaugh’s accuser wants FBI probe before she testifiesFox 26September 19, 2018Christine Blasey Ford wants the FBI to investigate her allegation that she was sexually assaulted by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh before she testifies at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing next week, her lawyers said in a letter sent Tuesday to the panel. Philip Hilder of HIlder & Associates, was asked to comment
Guilty verdict in pipeline spill could have industry repercussionsHouston ChronicleSeptember 8, 2018A guilty verdict late Friday against Plains All American Pipeline has left the Houston energy company a convicted felon for its role in causing a large oil spill in California, adding new ammunition to the fight over pipelines, which have become a prime target of the movement against fossil fuels in North America.Governments frequently launch civil cases against corporations for pollution and other cases when they suspect misconduct, seeking restitution as well as financial penalties. Criminal prosecutions, which require a higher burden of proof, tend to be reserved for high-profile cases, such as the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in the 1980s or the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2010, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice.It’s unusual, however, that these criminal cases go to trial, Hilder said. For example, BP, which operated the Deepwater Horizon rig, pleaded guilty to several felonies and paid billions of dollars in criminal penalties before the case went before a jury.“Companies tend to settle cases before trial by paying fines,” Hilder said. Link
Jeff Skilling’s release from prison prompts former Enron workers to think about decision to invest in company stockABC 13August 31, 2018Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling is heading to a halfway house after spending just eight years in federal prison in Alabama. Skilling was convicted of conspiracy and financial crimes that led to the crash of the company that, for a time, symbolized Houston business success. Of Skilling’s release, Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who represented Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, said, “This represents closure that the Enron saga is really coming to an end.”Watkins later shared a Time Magazine cover with two other whistleblowers in its “Persons of the Year” edition. Link
Jeffrey Skilling, former Enron CEO, released from Alabama prison to halfway houseHouston ChronicleAugust 31, 2018The Bureau of Prisons typically sends inmates to a halfway house in their home city where they resided before incarceration. It helps them re-acclimate to a more normal life and re-establish relationships with their families, said Philip Hilder, a white-collar defense lawyer who represented Sherron Watkins, a former vice president at Enron who went to then-Enron chairman Kenneth Lay to warn him of accounting irregularities she discovered while reviewing Enron’s assets.Inmates are typically required to get a job while they’re at a halfway house and to report regularly to the federal probation department for up to three years, Hilder said. Skilling’s lawyer could not be reached for comment. Link
Petrobras settles emissions lawsuit against Pasadena refineryHouston ChronicleJuly 27, 2018Petrobras, Brazil’s state-control oil company, has agreed to settle a lawsuit alleging that the company for years flouted air pollution restrictions at its aging Pasadena refinery. Philip Hilder is local counsel. Link
Pasadena refinery agrees to settle pollution lawsuit environmental group saysClick 2 HoustonJuly 26, 2018A Pasadena refinery accused of violating pollution rules on multiple occasions has agreed to settle a lawsuit against the plant, environmentalists announced Thursday.The lawsuit filed last year accuses Pasadena Refining Services Inc. of several violations of both the Texas Clean Air Act and the Texas Clean Water Act. Philip Hilder is local counsel. Link
Martha Karolyi to provide statement on Larry Nassar abuse at Senate hearingHouston ChronicleMay 30, 2018Former USA Gymnastics national team coordinator Martha Karolyi will provide a statement and answers to written questions for a June 5 Senate subcommittee hearing on the Larry Nassar sexual abuse investigation, her attorney said Wednesday.Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny and former Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon have been subpoenaed to testify next week before the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance, USA Today report.Houston attorney Philip Hilder is representing USA Gymnastics in both Walker County lawsuits and in a Harris County lawsuit filed by a former Houston gymnast against the federation, the USOC and the International Federation of Gymnastics. Link
International kidnapping case involving Houston boy brings split verdict from federal juryHouston ChronicleMay 29, 2018A federal jury Friday found an affluent Brazilian couple guilty of aiding in the international kidnapping of their Houston-born grandson in a rare prosecution that drew national attention to the U.S. government’s lackluster efforts to return thousands of children taken abroad amid custody disputes.But, in unusual move, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett did not formally accept the jury’s decision, saying he wanted more time to consider defense attorneys’ request that the couple should be cleared because of allegations raised in the trial that their daughter was fleeing domestic violence.It is that so-called affirmative defense – that they were shielding their daughter from what they believed was an abusive relationship – that the judge now is considering.Veteran defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, who is not connected to the case, said the judge’s reluctance to accept the jury’s verdict is a sign that he is weighing concerns.“It is an indication there’s a viable issue the judge wants to consider,” Hilder said. Link
Former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman convicted in massive fraud schemeHouston ChronicleApril 12, 2018A federal jury Houston Thursday convicted former U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman of being the mastermind behind a wide-ranging fraud scheme, using hefty charitable donations from top-level conservative donors to cover personal expenses and campaign debts. Two former Stockman aides who pleaded guilty to participating in the scheme were among those who testified against the former congressman, who made an unsuccessful run in 2014 for the U.S. Senate against Republican incumbent John Cornyn.Posey, an aide who knew Stockman for decades, testified he wrote checks, set up bank accounts and moved the money as directed by Stockman into shadowy charities, including one called the Egyptian American Friendship Society and another entitled Life Without Limits, supposedly dedicated to helping people recover from trauma.Posey testified that he and the former congressman knew they were breaking the law, but Stockman instructed him to push forward, spending charitable money on hotel rooms, plane flights and so-called “burner phones” for secret conversations. He complied, he said, even fleeing to Egypt at Stockman’s request for more than two years when Stockman realized the scheme was under investigation.Attorney Philip Hilder, who represented Posey, said in the universe of white-collar crime, Stockman’s conduct stood out because he was in office when many of the crimes occurred.“This was a highly elaborate scheme that was hatched shortly after Stockman was sworn into office in 2013 and continued throughout his term,” Hilder said.“What makes this unusual is that a member of Congress abused his authority shortly after being given the oath of office,” he said. “Stockman manipulated his staff and squandered a golden opportunity to represent the constituents in his district who obviously placed faith in him.” Link
Aide testifies he lacked character to challenge ex-congressman Steve Stockman about fraud schemeHouston ChronicleApril 4, 2018Federal prosecutors concluded their case Tuesday against former Republican U.S. Congressman Steve Stockman, following nine days of testimony in a campaign fraud trial including a statement from a co-defendant and longtime aide that he regretted not questioning widespread misconduct by his ex-boss.“I’m sorry I had the lack of character to stand up to him and ask why,” testified Jason Posey, one of two former staffers who pleaded guilty and provided key testimony for the government.Outside of court, Posey’s lawyer, Philip Hilder said his client was blinded by his trust in Stockman, who he’d known since the mid-1990s, when Posey was “a young idealistic intern” at a Washington, D.C. leadership organization.“Posey found him to be charismatic and over time a mentor and father figure that he believed in and trusted to the extent that it caused an impairment in Posey’s judgment,” Hilder said.He said his client knew crossed the line and violated the law, and he accepts responsibility for his actions. Link
Own a silicone wrist band? You may have been overchargedHouston Chronicle April 2, 2018Federal prosecutors last summer busted a local scheme to fix the prices of promotional products, obtaining guilty pleas from online sellers of silicone wristbands, customized lanyards and buttons. Now, the clients who bought the overpriced merchandise are queuing up for refunds.Some legal experts are surprised that the federal government pursued such a small case, dollar-wise. The criminal penalties -which total about $2.3 million -are small, compared to other price fixing cases the government has brought. Citicorp, for example, paid $925 million to settle a foreign exchange anti-trust case last year.“They tend to go where the big dollars are,” said Philip Hilder, a white collar defense lawyer in Houston and former assistant U.S. attorney in Houston, referring to federal prosecutors.The government, however, may have thought the behavior in the wristband case was egregious, said Hilder. Or it could have been an easy case make to if a whistle blower brought the case to law enforcement officials. Link
Ex-US Rep. Used Charity Cash For Trips And More, Jury ToldLaw 360March 29, 2018A forensic accountant for the FBI told jurors on Wednesday that former U.S. Rep. Stephen Stockman, R-Texas, took a total of $450,000 in charitable donations from now-deceased millionaire and philanthropist Stanford Z. Rothschild Jr., deposited the funds into accounts he controlled and used the money for personal expenses. Jurors were told during opening statements last week that they will hear testimony from two former Stockman staffers who have entered guilty pleas for their role in the scheme.In October, Jason T. Posey, who had been Stockman’s director of special projects, pled guilty to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering and agreed to cooperate with authorities. In March 2017, Thomas Dodd, who served as a special assistant, entered a guilty plea.Posey admitted he helped Stockman funnel more than $450,000 to support his 2014 campaign for U.S. Senate. He also admitted falsifying paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission to cover up the true source of the money. Mr. Posey is represented by Philip H. Hilder and Stephanie K. McGuire of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Houston man pleads guilty in attempt to bomb Confederate statue in Hermann ParkHouston ChronicleMarch 27, 2018A Houston man admitted to a federal judge Tuesday that he planned to bomb the statue of a Confederate war commander in Hermann Park last summer, amid a wave of protests nationally over civic monuments celebrating people touted as heroes of the South during the Civil War.Outside the courtroom Schneck’s attorney Philip Hilder said, “He pleaded guilty because he recognizes his actions and accepts his responsibility and wishes to move on. He has some health issues that we are dealing with that contributed to the event.” Link
Prosecution strategy backfires in case of trans woman’s deathHouston ChronicleMarch 12, 2018When Bexar County prosecutors presented evidence in a manslaughter case last week during a probation revocation hearing, they had a chance to make the accused serve time in connection with the death last year of a transgender woman. But their strategy backfired. The judge ruled in the defense’s favor, and now Mark Daniel Lewis will not stand trial at all for Kenne McFadden’s death due to double jeopardy provisions, prosecutors said.Prosecutors made the proceedings murky when they “married” the probation case with the homicide case, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now practices as a criminal defense attorney in Houston. They “botched” the manslaughter case, he said, by presenting the entirety of the evidence in the hearing, rather than sticking to a narrow set of relevant facts that could have secured a probation revocation.“They put themselves in this situation. They didn’t have to. They didn’t have to present all the evidence,” Hilder said. “They could have accomplished their goal by succinctly presenting the evidence that was relevant to the revocation rather than a shotgun approach. And now they’re suffering the consequences for trying to throw in too much that was not necessary. Link.
Gov. Abbott Commutes Death Sentence Of Bart T. WhitakerKHOUGovernor Greg Abbott today issued a proclamation commuting the death sentence of convicted killer Bart Whitaker following a recommendation from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.The execution was set for 6 p.m. Thursday. The announcement from the governor came in just before 5:30 p.m. Thursday. LinkLink to Proclamation
Sugar Land man scheduled for execution Thursday awaits Abbott’s decisionHouston ChronicleFebruary 22, 2018A Sugar Land man slated for execution Thursday night is still awaiting a last-minute decision as Gov. Greg Abbott weighs his options: grant clemency or let him die by lethal injection.“We’re very anxious,” Whitaker’s Houston-based defense attorney, James Rytting said Thursday afternoon.“Clemency and mercy is for the strong to bestow upon the weak and we believe that this is a case in which the governor will and should summon the strength to grant clemency.” Link
Board recommends life of convicted killer Thomas ‘Bart’ Whitaker be sparedClick 2 HoustonThe Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a rare decision, is unanimously recommending the death sentence of convicted killer Thomas “Bart” Whitaker be commuted to life.Whitaker is set to undergo lethal injection Thursday for masterminding the fatal shootings of his mother and brother at their suburban Houston home in 2003. Whitaker’s father, Kent, also was shot in the attack but survived. He’s said he wants his 38-year-old son to live.James Rytting, Whitaker’s attorney, said Tuesday’s decision was a major step toward securing his client’s clemency.“It’s important to understand he is not going to be pardoned. The best he can hope for is a very harsh punishment,” Rytting said. “This is a stunning result, but one that is entirely mature and reasonable,” Rytting said. “Victims’ rights should mean more than revenge in Texas.” Link
Texas parole board recommends clemency for Sugar Land man slated to die for murder-for-hire plotThe Houston ChronicleFebruary 21, 2018In a rare victory two days before his scheduled execution, the Texas death row inmate convicted in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his own family won a unanimous recommendation for clemency from the notoriously unsparing state Board of Pardons and Paroles. Mr. Whitaker was represented by Firm attorney James Rytting on appeal. Link
In rare move, Texas parole board recommends clemency for death row inmate Thomas WhitakerThe Texas TribuneFebruary 21, 2018In an exceedingly rare move, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted Tuesday to recommend a lesser sentence for a death row inmate facing execution.The board voted unanimously in favor of clemency for Thomas Bartlett Whitaker, a man who is set to die on Thursday evening. The decision now falls on Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who can approve or deny the recommendation to change Whitaker’s death sentence to life in prison. Firm attorney James Rytting has represented Mr. Whitaker during his appeal process. Link
Mexican state alleges ex-governor bought Houston-area homes with stolen moneyFebruary 1, 2018Houston ChronicleThe Mexican state of Veracruz filed civil lawsuits this week alleging that dozens of Houston-area properties were bought with millions of dollars stolen by the state’s now-jailed former governor.The more common option would be to pursue civil forfeiture actions with the assistance of the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Treasury Department, said Philip Hilder, an experienced former federal prosecutor who is now in private practice.Hilder said the challenge in a civil lawsuit will be for Buzbee to prove with little or no assistance from the U.S. federal government that stolen money was used to buy properties named in the cases. Link
Governor Greg Abbott asks Texas Rangers to investigate Karolyi RanchJanuary 31, 2017Houston ChronicleGov. Greg Abbott enlisted the Texas Rangers on Tuesday to investigate reports of sexual abuse at the Karolyi Ranch, focusing not only on disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar but anyone who may have enabled Nassar’s crimes against female gymnasts.With Nassar already facing a lengthy prison term in Michigan on top of a 60-year federal prison term on child pornography charges, Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former prosecutor, said the Rangers probe will likely focus on whether charges are warranted against others.“They will try to determine who knew what when and what they did or what they had an obligation to do by coming forward,” Hilder said. “The Rangers have a reputation of being thorough. Their findings will have credibility.” Link
Philip Hilder on Good Morning AmericaJanuary 26, 2017Philip Hilder appeared on GMA to comment on the upcoming local investigation into local US Gymnastics training center and possible criminal liability.
Judge to ex-gymnastics doctor: ‘I just signed your death warrant’Houston ChronicleJanuary 24, 2017As a Michigan judge ensured Wednesday that former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar will spend the rest of his life behind bars, the focus of the worst sexual abuse scandal in the history of American sports turned to a barrage of investigations, including one in Texas, into who knew of Nassar’s conduct and what they did or did not do to stop him.Nassar, 54, who molested women and girls as young as 6 under the guise of medical treatment over two decades, was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison.In Lansing, Mich., Circuit Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who presided over a seven-day hearing in which Nassar was confronted by more than 150 survivors of his crimes, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman and Jordyn Wieber, said, “I just signed your death warrant.”The U.S. Olympic Committee announced plans for an independent probe in which it said it expects cooperation from USA Gymnastics, which employed Nassar from the mid-1990s until 2015.Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor, said the local probe likely will attempt to gather details of crimes that Nassar committed at the ranch and try to determine whether he was allowed to do so by the ranch’s owners, Bela and Martha Karolyi, and other USA Gymnastics national team staff members or coaches.“If criminal activity occurred on the property, there needs to be a thorough vetting as to how much oversight was exercised,” Hilder said. “Were they present, or were they mere landlords?“If individuals were aware that felonies occurred and had the duty to come forward and did not, there is criminal exposure,” Hilder added. “So it is incumbent on the local authorities to determine whether other individuals were aware or complicit or involved.”Given the length of the sentence imposed on Nassar in Michigan, Hilder said, filing charges against the ex-doctor in Texas would be a waste of time and manpower. Link
Enviros Lack Standing For Exxon Pollution Suit, 5th Circ. ToldLaw 360January 23, 2018The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, and other trade associations and energy groups urged the Fifth Circuit on Friday to overturn a $20 million judgment against ExxonMobil Corp., saying in an amicus brief that the lower court’s decision would unfairly penalize companies that took proactive environmental measures.The brief argued that the Sierra Club and other environmental groups that sued Exxon over air pollution were only able to prove standing for five alleged emissions events, but that the district court judge levied damages based on 16,000 days of alleged violations. The judge also factored in unrelated improvement projects when calculating Exxon’s economic benefit, which served as the basis for the award, the brief said. The Sierra Club is represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Texas Oil Refinery Must Face Enviros’ CAA Emissions SuitLaw 360January 12, 2018A Texas federal judge on Thursday refused to dump a suit that alleges Pasadena Refining System Inc. is violating the Clean Air Act by spewing toxic chemicals from its oil refinery, saying the environmental groups that brought the suit have adequately alleged harm from the refinery’s emissions.PRSI, which is part-owned by Brazilian state-owned oil giant Petrobras, had argued that the court didn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case because, among other reasons, the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter and Environment Texas hadn’t proved that the injuries sustained by their members were caused by the refinery’s emissions. The environmental groups are represented by Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Sealed brief: Paxton prosecutors ‘misled grand jury’ to secure indictmentThe Texas MonitorNovember 20, 2017The special prosecutors in the case against Attorney General Ken Paxton “fabricated” a date in order to secure an indictment, according to a sealed brief just made public for the first time.That’s one of several reasons that Paxton’s defense attorneys gave for throwing out an indictment on a securities registration charge. Those arguments were rejected without comment in a March 29 order by Judge George Gallagher, who has since been removed from the case. Link
Exxon Slams $6M Fee Request In $20M Pollution SuitLaw 360November 29, 2017Philip Hilder, a lawyer for the groups, reiterated that argument in a Wednesday email to Law360. “Exxon’s criticism of our fee application is baseless considering they were responsible for driving upcosts through aggressive litigation,” Hilder said. In October, Hilder said in an email to Law360 that the oil company “fought every inch,” admitted to nothing and was unyielding in its defense. That drove up the fees, he said. Link
Texas sheriff concerned about truck with anti-Trump messageHouston APNovember 15, 2017A Houston-area sheriff said Wednesday he’s concerned the driver of a truck displaying an expletive filled message against President Donald Trump and those who voted for him is creating a situation that could lead to confrontations with people offended by the sign. In a Facebook post, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said he discussed with a local prosecutor the possibility of a disorderly conduct charge – a misdemeanor – against the driver. Legal experts say the driver has a constitutionally protected right to express the message on the truck. “It would be dangerous to our freedoms if you start going that route where a sheriff has the right to start censoring people about what might be offensive,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Hilder said he doesn’t think Fort Bend County – located southwest of Houston – would have a case for disorderly conduct against the driver of the truck. “Is (the sign on the truck) tasteful? No. Is it dignified? No, but it’s still a person’s statement that is constitutionally protected,” Hilder said.
Ill. Man Admits Money Laundering Role In Call Center ScamsLaw 360November 14, 2017Philip Hilder, a Hilder & Associates PC attorney representing Praful Patel, told Law360 on Tuesday that “Mr. Patel accepts responsibility for his actions, offers his sincere apology for any financial harm related to his activity and wishes to get this matter behind him so that he can return to being a productive member of the community.” Praful Patel is represented by Philip Hilder and Quentin Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Houston-area man in family murder plot gets execution dateHouston ChronicleNovember 7, 2017A 37-year-old suburban Houston man on Texas death row for arranging the shooting deaths of his mother and brother in 2003 so he could collect a $1 million inheritance has received an execution date. Mr. Whitaker is represented by Firm counsel James Rytting.
Investigators comb lake for new evidence in Swearingen death row caseHouston ChronicleNovember 2, 2017Nearly 20 years after the murder of college student Melissa Trotter rocked Montgomery County, dive teams are out searching for more evidence in the county’s only death row case.The renewed search efforts come weeks after word of an abandoned confession plot between Larry Swearingen – who was convicted in Trotter’s slaying – and Houston serial killer Anthony Shore threatened to cloud the case and pointed to the possibility of more evidence. Firm counsel James Rytting is lead counsel for Larry Swearingen. Link
Lawyers agree to DNA testing in Swearingen’s death row caseHouston ChronicleOctober 29, 2017After years of courtroom wrangling, lawyers from both sides are finally agreeing to move forward with DNA testing in the 1998 rape and murder of Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter.The agreement, expected to be finalized in court papers in the coming weeks, comes just days after a judge called off the pending execution of death row inmate Larry Swearingen, who was convicted in the slaying nearly two decades ago and has since repeatedly professed his innocence.“They’re doing the right thing,” defense attorney James Rytting said Sunday, pointing to another death row inmate’s alleged plan to confess to the crime as evidence of the need for testing.A lab would likely evaluate the rape kit, the ligature used to strangle Trotter, finger nail scrapings and hair. Link
Judge Who Called in the Feds Says Witness Tampering Allegations In Civil Trial New To HimTexas LawyerOctober 18, 2017Philip Hilder, of Hilder & Associates in Houston, said witness tampering may be exposed more in criminal cases because of the clearly defined parameters that need to be followed in criminal cases. For instance, when individuals are charged with an offense, they are usually admonished by the court to not have contact with witnesses, and are warned that to do so would be considered witness tampering or obstruction of justice.But in a civil suit, people may innocently contact witnesses under the belief that it is okay to talk to them about their testimony, said Hilder, a former federal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas and the U.S. Department of Justice.“That’s why you hear a lot more about it in criminal cases. The definitions are more pronounced as to who you can contact and talk with and who you can’t. In civil cases, it’s blurred,” Hilder said. Link
Mueller’s Opening Moves Show Focus on Trump-Russia CollusionBloombergOctober 31, 2017The first charges unsealed in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the presidential election suggest a sweeping investigation, but one focus is clear: He’s building a case that Donald Trump’s campaign was in close touch with Russian officials who aimed to defeat Hillary Clinton. That hypothesis begins with a cooperating witness, George Papadopoulos, a 30-year-old junior foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about contacts with Russian operatives.“People thought there was smoke, but this is evidence there was fire,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who specializes in white-collar criminal defense.Before laying out the charges against Papadopoulos on Monday, Mueller unsealed indictments against former campaign manager Paul Manafort and an aide, Rick Gates, who have been put under house arrest. Those indictments focus on their business dealings without mentioning Russian collusion, and the Papadopoulos charges don’t name the campaign officials said to have received his information. But Hilder sees a connection.“This may not look like it’s related to Manafort, but they’re all intertwined, and the several roads lead to the same location,” he said.
Man charged in Confederate statue bomb plot in Hermann Park headed to mental health lockdownHouston ChronicleOctober 24, 2017The Houston man charged with plotting to bomb a Confederate statue in Hermann Park this summer will be transferred to a mental health facility in Louisiana while he awaits trail, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.Schneck, who is being held a federal detention facility in downtown Houston, will likely be fitted with an electronic monitoring device later this week before his transfer to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital.Defense attorney Philip Hilder declined to discuss his client’s mental health history, other than to say, “I think he just needs a complete workup.”Schneck’s parents — whose South Hampton home, near Rice University, was searched by investigators for bomb-making materials after his arrest — were not present in court. But Hilder said that wasn’t because they were not in contact with him.“His family is extremely supportive of him and is concerned for his well being,” Hilder said. Link
Paxton ‘family friend’ a big donor for GOP candidatesHouston ChronicleOctober 24, 2017Attorney General Ken Paxton says the man who shelled out the most money to help him combat securities fraud charges is a “family friend,” but a review of campaign finance records show his main financier is also a major Republican donor for candidates up and down the ticket. Paxton’s legal team has said he has done nothing wrong. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said Paxton had no knowledge of the investigation and the office participated little in the investigation. Paxton has fully cooperated with the investigation and “all the donations given to the Paxton legal defense effort are in full compliance with state law,” said Matt Welch, Paxton’s legal defense and campaign spokesman. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates P.C. Link
Judge grants 90-day stay of execution for ‘Tourniquet Killer’Houston ChronicleOctober 19, 2017Notorious Houston serial killer Anthony Shore won a stay Wednesday hours before his scheduled execution, after he agreed to tell prosecutors about other murders he may have committed and divulged plans to falsely confess to one he didn’t.The last-minute push for the Tourniquet Killer’s reprieve came after the condemned man revealed that fellow death row inmate Larry Swearingen begged him to take responsibility for the 1998 Montgomery County slaying of college student Melissa Trotter, according to prosecutors.Instead, Shore came forward and confessed to the plot.“We agree with the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office that the governor should reprieve Anthony Shore so that his involvement in the Trotter case can be examined,” Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said Wednesday.He expressed hope that a stay could expose Shore’s “potential involvement in the Trotter case, but also in other possible murders since he is a serial killer and there may be other victims out there.” Link
Ex-Congressional Staffer Admits To Fraud, Money LaunderingLaw 360October 12, 2017A former congressional aide agreed Wednesday to plead guilty to participating in a scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from charitable organizations in order to fund his boss’ political campaign. “Mr. Posey freely and voluntarily admits being involved in criminal activity that is the subject of the indictment,” Philip H. Hilder, an attorney for Posey, told Law360. “By pleading guilty at this stage of the proceedings, Mr. Posey accepts his responsibility for his misdeeds and seeks to move forward becoming a productive member of society.” Link
Second aide to ex-lawmaker pleads guilty to fraudHouston ChronicleOctober 11, 2017A top aide to former U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman claimed in federal court Wednesday that the congressman directly instructed him to write hefty checks from a charitable donor to himself, another aide and Stockman’s own campaign funds.Jason T. Posey, 46, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, mail fraud and money laundering in a hearing before Chief U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal.“My guy was a player, but he’s not the only player involved,” said Philip Hilder, who represents Posey. “He’s accepting early responsibility, he realizes that he has done misdeeds and is prepared to accept that responsibility and move forward becoming a productive member of society.” Link
Enviros Want $6M In Fees From Exxon In $20M Pollution RowLaw 360October 6, 2017Environmental groups told a Texas federal judge Thursday that Exxon Mobil Corp. should pay about $6 million in attorneys’ fees and costs stemming from the thousands of hours of work and years of intense, hard-fought litigation that resulted in a nearly $20 million civil penalty against the oil giant. And Exxon’s legal strategy was a big reason so much work was needed, the application said.Philip Hilder, an attorney for the environmentalists, reiterated the environmental groups’ perspective of Exxon’s legal strategy.“Exxon fought every inch, admitting to nothing and unyielding in its defense. The other citizen suits of refineries ended in settlements where the companies accepted their responsibilities, which was not the case here, driving up fees,” Hilder told Law360 in an email.Exxon said it was reviewing the application for fees.The environmental groups are represented by Philip J. Hilder and William B. Graham of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Paxton’s legal defense fund under investigation, special prosecutor saysHouston ChronicleOctober 5, 2017Government officials are broadening their investigation of Attorney General Ken Paxton by looking into his $500,000 legal defense fund, a special prosecutor said Wednesday. “We are confident that we fully complied with the law and look forward to the Kaufman County district attorney’s review being completed soon,” said Matt Welch, Paxton’s spokesman who said the legal team has “fully cooperated with this inquiry since it began.” Link
Paxton’s criminal trial delayed until 2018Houston ChronicleOctober 4, 2017Attorney General Ken Paxton won’t face trial on a trio of criminal felony charges until next year, possibly right after the primary election, a Harris County district judge ruled Wednesday. Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s other criminal defense lawyers, said he is sympathetic that the special prosecutors not getting paid but, “that’s not Mr. Paxton’s problem.”Judge Robert Johnson granted a motion for continuance in the case at the behest of special prosecutors who pointed to the disruption Hurricane Harvey has had on the Harris County court system and said they are still waiting to be paid for building a case against the attorney general. Link
Prosecutors Get Delay In Paxton Securities Fraud TrialLaw360October 4, 2017A state district judge in Houston on Wednesday afternoon granted a request for a continuance from the special prosecutors in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case, over the objections of the defense team representing the attorney general. State District Judge Robert Johnson granted the state’s motion under Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 29.03, which states that a continuance can be granted “upon sufficient cause shown.” When attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, who represents Paxton in the case, asked the court to clarify the reasoning, Judge Johnson declined to do so. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Paxton’s attorneys: AG, public deserve speedy trialHouston ChronicleOctober 3, 2017Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers are pushing back against efforts to delay the high ranking Republican’s criminal trial for securities fraud, saying he and the public deserve a swift resolution to the two-year-old case. Ken Paxton is represented by co-lead counsel Philip Hilder, Paul Creech, and Q. Tate Williams. Link
Texas Criminal Court Stays Paxton Prosecutor Pay RulingLaw 360September 27, 2017The Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in Texas, granted a request on Monday from the special prosecutors in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case to put a hold on an order from the state’s Fifth Court of Appeals that would block them from being paid. Ken Paxton is represented by co-lead counsel Philip Hilder, Paul Creech, and Q. Tate Williams. Link
Southampton Place neighbors fretting about alleged would-be Confederate statue bomber on blockHouston ChronicleSeptember 26, 2017Catherine Dickerson wanted to make sure that Andrew Schneck, who was arrested in August for attempting to bomb a Confederate statue in Hermann Park with his own stash of potent chemicals, was not headed back to her sister’s neighborhood while he awaited trial. Philip Hilder, a seasoned defense lawyer with a gentle manner, listened to her questions and concerns and — in so many words — reassured her she had nothing to worry about. Hilder had asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy for a second postponement of Schneck’s detention hearing, now set for Oct. 12. “The neighborhood is perfectly safe now,” Hilder said. “I do respect your concerns. We’re studying alternatives.” He indicated that he would be pushing for his client to spend his pretrial time under unique circumstances other than traditional detention at a federal facility. “I appreciate the concerns that the neighbors have,” said Hilder, Schneck’s lawyer. “We completely understand and we respect that.” Link
Houston Confederate statue bombing suspect appears in courtHouston ChronicleSeptember 19, 2017The 25-year-old charged with trying to bomb a Confederate statue in Hermann Park appeared briefly Tuesday morning in an olive green jail uniform before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy in Houston and said he understood the charges against him. Philip Hilder, his defense attorney, said afterward, “We look forward to ultimately resolving this matter.” Link
Another pleads guilty in pet medication scamHouston ChronicleSeptember 14, 2017Philip Hilder, attorney for Lam Ngoc Tran, a California man who was one of several fake packaging manufacturers convicted in the case, said the conspiracy was fueled by greed.“Other than money, I don’t know what the motivation would be,” said Hilder, whose client is serving a four-year federal prison sentence. “He repackaged a product that he knew was not manufactured in the states but was under the belief it was the same product manufactured abroad. He knew that he had violated the law and accepted his responsibility by not contesting the charge.” Link
Death row inmate from Willis gives his first ever TV interview to FOX 26FOX 26August 22, 2017In Swearingen’s mind Karma’s target is the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. Swearingen has maintained his innocence for many years.“From the very beginning I’ve testified about that, yes,” the death row inmate said. Swearingen is represented by James Rytting.
5 Facts about Texan Charged for Allegedly Attempting to Bomb Confederate StatueBreitbartAugust 22, 2017Schneck’s lawyer, Phillip Hilder, responded to an inquiry from Breitbart Texas Monday afternoon saying that “This is an evolving situation in an ongoing investigation. It would be premature for me to comment before any evidence is presented.” Link
Man Charged for Trying to Plant Nitroglycerin Bomb on Confederate StatueThe Epoch TimesAugust 22, 2017Schneck’s lawyers did not provide further details on Monday.“This is an evolving situation, with an ongoing investigation,” said Philip Hilder, Schneck’s attorney. “It would be premature to comment at this time since we have not seen the evidence.”Hilder also represented Schneck in 2013, in a case where Schneck was convicted of storing explosives. Link
Houston man charged with trying to plant bomb at Confederate statue in Hermann ParkHouston ChronicleAugust 22, 2017Lawyers for Schneck offered few details about the case.“This is an evolving situation, with an ongoing investigation,” said Philip Hilder, who is representing Schneck and who represented him in the previous case. “It would be premature to comment at this time since we have not seen the evidence. Link
The Latest: Home cleared in attempted statue bombing probeAPAugust 21, 2017Authorities have collected and disposed of hazardous materials found at the home of a man accused of trying to damage a Confederate statue at a Houston park with explosives. Schneck is charged with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance and he remains in custody.Schneck was arrested Saturday night and made his first court appearance Monday. Philip Hilder, Schneck’s attorney, declined to comment.
Texas man charged with trying to blow up Confederate statueReutersAugust 21, 2017Authorities in Houston charged a 25-year-old man on Monday with trying to blow up a Confederate statue, federal prosecutors said, following demonstrations and fierce debate in the United States about race and the legacy of America’s Civil War. “It’s an evolving situation and the investigation is continuing,” Schneck’s attorney, Philip Hilder, said by phone. “So far I have not seen any evidence and it would be premature to comment at this time.” Link
Dallas court voids six-figure payment to Ken Paxton prosecutorsDallas NewsAugust 21, 2017The prosecutors pursuing charges against Attorney General Ken Paxton haven’t been paid in more than a year and a half – and they will continue to wait on a payday.On Monday, the 5th Court of Appeals in Dallas voided a $205,000 invoice dating back to January 2016, saying state laws and local rules did not allow the three special prosecutors to be paid the $300-an-hour rate they were promised. Philip H. Hilder is co lead attorney for Ken Paxton. Link
Judge sets death date for Montgomery County killerHouston ChronicleAugust 10, 2017Larry Swearingen, convicted of killing Montgomery College student Melissa Trotter in 1998 and dumping her body in the Sam Houston National Forest, is slated to meet his fate in Huntsville’s death chamber on Nov. 16, a judge ruled late Wednesday. Firm attorney James G Rytting represents Mr. Swearingen. Link
Judge denies ExxonMobil request to reduce $20 million air pollution fineTexas TribuneJuly 31, 2017A Houston Federal Judge rejected ExxonMobil’s bid to reduce a $20 million civil penalty for releasing air pollutants from their Baytown refinery which exceeded permitted levels. The Plaintiffs are represented locally by Philip Hilder and William Graham of Hilder & Associates, P.C. of Houston, Texas. Link
Ken Paxtons’s Trial to Begin in December in HoustonHouston PressJuly 28, 2017On Thursday, State District Judge Robert Johnson set Paxton’s trial for December 11 in the 177th district court; jury selection will begin December 1. Paxton appeared in court with his crew of lawyers, headed by Philip Hilder and Dan Cogdell, two prominent Houston white-collar defense attorneys. Link
Texas AG Paxton Set To Stand Trial in December, Judge RulesHouston ChronicleJuly 27, 2017Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will face trial in December for the first of three criminal charges, a Houston judge ruled Thursday.Jury selection will begin Dec. 1 and testimony will start on Dec. 11 for the single count of failing to register as an investment adviser with the state. Mr. Paxton is represented by Firm counsel Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech. Link
5 Issues To Watch In The Texas Special SessionLaw 360July 14, 2017When the Texas Legislature reconvenes July 18 for a special session, lawmakers will first debate keeping intact several key state boards that oversee the medical industry, then wrestle with a controversial transgender bathroom bill that has drawn the opposition of major corporations. First up for lawmakers will be renewing five state boards as part of what’s known as the Sunset process. The Texas Medical Board, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors and the Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners are all set to expire Sept. 1 if the Legislature doesn’t act to extend their authorization.Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said the TMB reauthorization is “the most critical piece of legislation coming up in the special session” and one the health care industry is taking seriously.“Without it, there’s no licensing board for doctors in the state,” he said. “That would be disastrous.” Link
Public works director ensnared in HCC bribery case, made payments to indicted trusteeHouston ChronicleJuly 11, 2017Houston Public Works Director Karun Sreerama made $77,143 in unlawful payments to a Houston Community College trustee who faces up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery, according to federal court recordsPhilip Hilder, a Houston lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said the extortion and bribery charges are similar but distinct.“In bribery, you have to have a quid pro quo. In other words, the payment is for something particular that the individual is going to deliver on,” Hilder said. “In the Hobbs Act violation, you don’t need that. You need to be in a position of authority.”On the mention of a “victim” in the indictment, Hilder added, “Something like this is indicative of somebody who may have exposure themselves for the activity but is choosing to cooperate with the government prior to charges being brought.” Link
Judge delays decision to set Texas AG Ken Paxton’s Trial DateDallas NewsJune 29, 2017The judge presiding over Attorney General Ken Paxton’s criminal cases did not set a trial date Thursday, instead asking the parties to meet again in about a month for more discussion.At a hearing in Houston, Harris County Criminal District Court Judge Robert Johnson asked Paxton’s attorneys and the prosecutors to return July 27. He could set the trial date then or further delay the decision. At the Thursday hearing, the three special prosecutors picked to pursue the charges against Paxton asked Johnson to put the entire case on hold until a Dallas court makes a decision in a separate lawsuit over their pay. Paxton’s attorneys disagreed that a delay was necessary. Putting the case on hold would violate their client’s right to a speedy trial, they said. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Rookie Judge Faces ‘Trial By Fire’ In Texas AG’s Fraud CaseLaw 360June 23, 2017The newly elected Harris County district judge who is now overseeing the felony securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is in store for a “trial by fire” that will force the rookie jurist to navigate choppy political waters and unclear law on the charges at hand, experts say. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul L. Creech of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Aide to ex-U.S. Rep. Stockman returns from abroad to face conspiracy chargesHouston ChronicleJune 15, 2017Federal agents quietly arrested Jason Posey, a former congressional aide who’d been wanted for two months on charges that he helped ex-U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman carry out a criminal conspiracy to bilk millionaire donors, violate elections laws, and illegally divert hundreds of thousands in campaign cash.Posey and Stockman were both indicted March 28 on 28 federal charges including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Elections Commission, excessive campaign contributions and money launderingPosey voluntarily returned to Houston to turn himself in on May 23, according to Philip Hilder, a Houston lawyer appointed to represent Posey.“He voluntarily came back to the United States to face the allegations levied against him,” said Hilder, who is known for his work representing whistle-blowers and other witnesses and defendants in high-profile white-collar crime cases, including Enron. Link
New Judge Assigned To Texas AG Securities Fraud CaseLaw360June 13, 2017Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony securities fraud case was assigned to a newly elected district judge on Tuesday, a move Paxton’s defense team had been pushing for since April, when a different judge presiding over the case ordered it moved south from Paxton’s home county to Harris County.Judge Robert Johnson, of the 177th District Court and one of 22 criminal district court judges in Harris County, was randomly assigned the case Tuesday. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Texas A.G. Prevails in Kicking Judge Off His Criminal CaseBreitbartJune 9, 2017As reported by Breitbart Texas, special prosecutors in the criminal trial against Paxton appealed the Dallas Court of Appeals removal of the judge. On Wednesday, the majority of the court denied the prosecutor’s motion for a stay and denied leave to file their writ of mandamus challenging the booting of the judge. The majority denied the extraordinary writ without an opinion and without allowing briefing by the special prosecutors. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Appellate court voids recent decisions by judge in Paxton criminal caseHouston ChronicleMay 30, 2017The decision vacates all decisions made by Tarrant County Judge George Gallagher after his April 11 ruling to move the case across the state amid concern about Paxton’s political connections in the attorney general’s home county. The unanimous decision amounts to a victory for Paxton who had sought to remove Gallagher from the bench presiding over his case for weeks.Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder, Paul L. Creech and Q. Tate Williams of Hilder & Associates, P.C. LinkLink to Opinion
Texas Appellate Panel Stays Paxton Fraud ProceedingLaw 360May 16, 2017A Texas appellate panel on Tuesday granted a request from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to stay felony securities fraud proceedings against him as he seeks to challenge orders surrounding a change of venue from Collin County to Harris County and prohibit the judge who ordered the venue change from presiding.Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Justice Department Orders Tougher Criminal PunishmentsLaw 360May 12, 2017Federal prosecutors were instructed by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday to prioritize stronger charges and stiffer sentences, reversing guidance issued by the Obama administration to take a less aggressive stance on certain crimes.In a two-page memo, Sessions rescinded guidance issued by Eric Holder, former President Barack Obama’s longtime attorney general, that told prosecutors to avoid moves that would require harsh sentences for nonviolent drug offenders and other low-level criminals.Philip Hilder, a white collar defense lawyer at Hilder & Associates PC, said the policy could frustrate prosecutors and judges as well as defense lawyers by making it harder to bargain. He said he hoped the policy would not derail legislative reform efforts.“I think society is recognizing that one size does not fit all in the criminal justice system and there needs to be flexibility,” he said. Link
AG Paxton Attorneys Again Seek New Judge in Securities TrialLaw 360May 11, 2017Attorneys for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told an administrative judge Wednesday that the order from the judge presiding over Paxton’s felony securities fraud trial sending the Collin County case to Harris County is void because it was issued after the judge’s authority over the case expired. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Paxton lawyers say judge didn’t have authority for 2017 rulingsTexas TribuneMay 10, 2017Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are seeking to void a number of major rulings in the securities fraud case against him, arguing the judge who made them did not have the authority to do so.Paxton’s team on Wednesday asked a higher judge to throw out the rulings, which included an order to change the venue – a major setback at the time for the attorney general. His lawyers now say state District Judge George Gallagher should not have overseen the case beyond 2016. Link
Experts: Convicting ex-officer in teen’s death will be toughAPMay 7, 2017Authorities who’ve charged a white suburban Dallas police officer with murder in a black teenager’s death face a tough task in getting a conviction as few of these cases go to trial and, when they do, juries remain reluctant to second guess an officer’s decision to use deadly force, legal experts said Saturday.Roy Oliver is free on bond after being charged Friday in the death of 15-year-old Jordan Edwards. Investigators say Oliver shot into a car of teenagers leaving an unruly party on April 29, killing Edwards. Oliver was fired by the Balch Springs Police Department three days after the shooting.Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said the issue of race will be “in the back of everybody’s mind going forward in this case” but whether it’s brought up at trial will be up to the judge.“The fact (authorities) moved as rapidly as they have indicates confidence in their case and that they believe they will be able to prevail on the murder charge because in a situation like this, it’s very unusual to have a charging decision so soon after the shooting,” Hilder said.
Judge orders Exxon to pay $20M in air emissions suitHouston ChronicleApril 27, 2017A federal judge in Houston has ordered Exxon Mobil to pay a nearly $20 million civil penalty for releasing 10 million pounds of pollutants into the air from its Baytown refining and chemical complex from 2005 to 2013.In a Wednesday ruling, U.S. District Judge David Hittner said evidence showed the Texas oil company’s emissions had put it in violation of the Clean Air Act 16,386 times.Philip Hilder, principal of Houston law firm Hilder & Associates, who helped represent the plaintiffs, said he believes it’s the largest judgment of civil penalties returned under a Clean Air Act citizen suit.“We’re thrilled with the ruling and excited Exxon is finally being held accountable for thousands of violations,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. “We’re glad they’ll face significant penalties and hope that’ll serve as a warning to other companies.” LinkRevised FindingsFinal Judgement
Paxton’s defense team maneuvers to get a new judgeHouston ChronicleApril 26, 2017Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s lawyers worked to get a new judge over his criminal securities case this week by adding it to Harris County’s criminal docket, according to a letter released Tuesday. The letter, from defense attorneys Philip Hilder and Dan Cogdell, requests that the district clerk put the case on the revolving wheel that randomly assigns judges to new cases.The position of the defense, according to the letter, is that Texas law requires a judge to get written consent from the prosecutors, the defense team and the defendant to continue presiding over the case. The defense is not giving written consent, according the letter. Link
Ex-investigator who stole comics must pay $157KHouston ChronicleApril 19, 2017Lonnie Blevins, the former Harris County DA investigator who testified against his partner after they were caught stealing high-dollar collectibles in evidence, has been sentenced to five years probation.He also has to pay more than $157,000 in restitution.Blevins testified last month that he and former partner Dustin Deutsch stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in collectible comic books and sports memorabilia that were being held as evidence in a criminal case.In the embezzlement case, Blevins and Deutsch were investigating a con artist posing as a lawyer who stole from international crane maker Tadano. With his ill-gotten gains, the con man bought millions of dollars in collectibles to launder the money. Blevins and Deutsch stole the comics from one of his storage units.Hilder & Associates represents Tadano America in this case. Link
Texas AG Paxton Cant Swap Judges in Securities Fraud TrialLaw 360April 17, 2017Attorney General Ken Paxton lost his bid for a new judge to preside over his felony securities fraud trial that was ordered moved away from his home turf of Collin County to Harris County last week, a spokeswoman for State District Judge George Gallagher said Monday.Citing Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 31.09 – which requires written consent of attorneys for both parties and the defendant in order for a judge to maintain and preside over a case after a change of venue – Paxton told the court in his motion last week “he will not be giving the statutorily required written consent” to allow Judge Gallagher to preside over the case.Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Pail Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Local couple appear in federal court for $24 million Medicare fraud scamHouston ChronicleApril 14, 2017The couple pled not guilty in Houston federal court Thursday following an indictment for multiple counts of health care fraud totaling more than $24 million.Oluyemisi Amos’ attorney, Philip Hilder, said his client looks forward to “resolving this matter by having her day in court.” Link
Home Health Co. Owners Pled Not Guilty to $24M FraudLaw 360April 13, 2017Oluyemisi Amos, 35, also pled not guilty, according to her defense counsel, Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC.“Ms. Amos has pled not guilty to the charges and looks forward to receiving her day in court to resolve this matter,” Hilder said. Link
Texas AG Paxton’s Securities Fraud Trial Moved To HoustonLaw 360April 11, 2017A Texas judge on Tuesday ordered the felony securities fraud trial of Attorney General Ken Paxton to be moved to Harris County and away from his home turf of Collin County, after prosecutors alleged the jury pool there was tainted, postponing what had been a May 1 trial date.Hours after State District Judge George Gallagher’s decision, Paxton filed a motion for a new judge from Harris County to be appointed in the case, citing Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 31.09, which requires “written consent of the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney and the defendant” in order for a judge to maintain and preside over a case after a change of venue.Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Ruling will Come Soon on Paxton Trial Delay, Venue ChangeLaw 360March 29, 2017A Texas state judge said he would decide by noon Thursday whether to delay the felony securities fraud trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton or to move it out of Collin County, during a Wednesday hearing at which Paxton cited a recent poll he said shows no bias in his home county. Paxton attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates, PC said Paxton has a constitution right to a speedy trial, and the prosecutions compensation shouldn’t interfere with that. Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates, P,C. Link
Texas AG Paxton Slams Bid To Pause Securities TrialLaw 360 March 13, 2017 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday hit back at a recent bid made by special prosecutors to delay a spring trial to determine whether he committed securities fraud by soliciting investments for a tech startup, saying the request violates his right to a speedy trial.Paxton is represented in the criminal case by Philip Hilder as co lead counsel, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Drug charges still possible in Memorial Villages after county says it will not prosecuteHouston ChronicleMarch 13, 2017Drug charges still possible in Memorial Villages after county says it will not prosecuteOn the surface, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg’s new marijuana diversion program, which allows for possession of four ounces or less without criminal charges, may seem like a green light to travel with small amounts of the drug throughout Harris County.But if you’re caught in the Memorial Villages, dreams of lighting up without fear of consequences could go up in smoke. That’s because the decision of whether or not to refer a suspect to Harris County or seek prosecution in the municipal court where the incident took place rests on the discretion of the police officer and his or her judgement of the case.“Municipalities have their own ordinances and it could be a violation of an ordinance,” said Philip Hilder, a criminal defense attorney with Hilder & Associates in Houston. “Cities can charge separately to the exclusion of Harris County.”
Texas AG’s Win Over SEC Raises Doubts About Criminal CaseLaw 360 March 6, 2017 The toss of a civil securities fraud suit against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton could signal trouble for prosecutors pursuing related criminal charges, who face a higher burden to prove that Paxton should have disclosed potential commissions to investors and may lack the evidence to clear that hurdle, experts say.Dismissing the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s fraud claims against Paxton with prejudice, U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant III found Thursday that Paxton didn’t owe a fiduciary duty to a group of investors to whom he had promoted stock, and thus wasn’t required to disclose he would be paid a commission. It was the second time Judge Mazzant had dismissed the SEC’s case against Paxton, after giving the agency a chance to amend its complaint with additional supporting facts. Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Environment Texas, Sierra Club sue Pasadena Refining System Inc. over air pollutionHouston ChronicleMarch 3, 2017Two environmental groups on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against the owners of a Pasadena refinery alleging the facility consistently violates clean air laws.The lawsuit, filed by attorneys representing Environment Texas and Sierra Club, alleges the Pasadena Refining System Inc. facility has routinely spewed unpermitted levels of soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other air pollutants over the past five years.The lawsuit is the fourth case filed by the two environmental groups against oil refineries and petrochemical facilities along the Houston Ship Channel since 2008.“Repeated mechanical breakdowns and operator errors have plagued the Pasadena Refinery for years, and illegal releases of pollution have been allowed to recur for far too long without being corrected,” said Neil Carman, clean air program director for Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter. “Even after receiving notice of our intent to file this lawsuit two months ago, the Pasadena Refinery has reported at least six more emission events that resulted in unauthorized air pollution into the surrounding communities.” Philip Hilder is local counsel for the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. Link
At Ken Paxton pretrial hearing, prosecutors say they’ll hold two separate trialsDallas Morning NewsFebruary 17, 2017Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton appeared Thursday in court, where his lawyers argued against a request to move his upcoming criminal trials out of Collin County. Judge George Gallagher, who is presiding over the case, said he intended to “at least try to choose a jury here.” But he did not formally rule on whether to move the trials elsewhere.In another development, the three prosecutors pursuing charges against Paxton said they will hold two separate, back-to-back trials, on Paxton’s separate charges. Paxton’s trial attorney fumed over this development, saying he was unaware there wouldn’t be just one trial.Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates is co-lead counsel for Ken Paxton. Link
Lawyers, aiding those caught in Trump travel ban, sense new respectFebruary 11, 2017Houston Chronicle, The Texas LawbookAfter enduring decades of comparisons to sharks and pit bulls, lawyers recently have earned new respect as they have rushed by the hundreds to airports to represent those affected by the controversial ban. Crowds at airports in New York and San Francisco chanted, “Let the lawyers in” during the first weekend of the ban.“Lawyers have been the butt of jokes for many years,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston white collar defense lawyer, “but I think people realize the stakes are high.”
The American Leadership Forum: Criminal Justice ReformFebruary 10, 2017Firm counsel, Philip H. Hilder moderated The American Leadership forum breakfast on Criminal Justice Reforms with Harris County’s newly elected District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Prosecutors: Effort to taint jurors requires Ken Paxton trial moveFebruary 10, 2017The StatesmanArguing that Attorney General Ken Paxton and his supporters have led a coordinated campaign to taint potential jurors, prosecutors on Thursday asked the judge to move Paxton’s securities fraud trial out of Collin County.Paxton’s lawyers said they will fight the request.“On behalf of Mr. Paxton, we vigorously deny the twisted and distorted allegations contained in the Motion to transfer venue, most of which pertain to actions taken by law-abiding taxpayers in the exercise of their free speech and access to the courts,” said defense lawyer Philip Hilder. Link
Paxton prosecutors want change of venue in fraud caseFebruary 9, 2017Texas TribuneThe prosecutors in Attorney General Ken Paxton’s securities fraud case are asking for a change of venue, arguing they cannot get a fair trial in Collin County.The prosecutors say Judge George Gallagher should move the case out of Paxton’s home county because he and his associates have waged a “22-month siege” against the prosecutors, witnesses and the court. The trial is set to begin May 1.Mr. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder and Firm. Link
February Second Friday Breakfast: Criminal Justice ReformsDate: February 10, 2017 Time: 7:30 am – 9:00 am Location: Show map The Merrill House 2502 Algerian Way Houston, TX Register Here: ALF February 2017 Second Friday Breakfast Payment Form Join Harris County’s newly elected leaders District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez (Criminal Justice 2) for a dialogue on Criminal Justice Reforms. Philip Hilder (Criminal Justice 1) Attorney, Hilder & Associates PC, will moderate the dialogue.Limited to Fellows, Senior Fellows and their invited guests.
Accounting misdeeds at Houston firm now a case study in bad behaviorHouston ChronicleJanuary 19, 2017A new 30-minute program for PBS station WLIW re-examines the accounting scandal at Enron to report what happens when workers refuse to stand up to management until it’s too late. The program features Sherron Watkins, a vice president in corporate development, who did speak up just five months before what was then the world’s largest bankruptcy.For those of us who came to Houston after Enron, the program is a short primer on perhaps the biggest financial scandal in the city’s history. More importantly, it prompts the viewers to consider what they would do under the same circumstances. The documentary features Philip Hilder, attorney to Sherron Watkins. Their interviews were filmed at the Hilder & Associates office.Link to Documentary
New Documentary Explores the Rise and Fall of Enron in Series on Corporate Scandal, Fraud and Business EthicsPBSTo this day, the Enron collapse remains a case study in how quickly bad business ethics can bring down a company. The film features candid interviews with Sherron Watkins, then a vice president in corporate development, who sounded the alarm bell at the time, writing a letter to Enron founder and chairman Ken Lay on the serious nature of the accounting fraud hiding the company’s investment losses. Viewers will also hear from several other experts and key players relevant to the case-including Philip Hilder, former Justice Department official and Watkins’ attorney .Press Release Filming of Mr. Hilder and Ms. Watkins took place at Hilder & Associates.
Two Businessmen Settle Bribery Charges Linked to Venezuela ProbeJanuary 10, 2016Wall Street JournalTwo businessmen pleaded guilty Tuesday to foreign bribery charges for their roles in a scheme to secure contracts from Venezuela’s state oil giant, the latest admissions in a broad investigation. The two men, Juan Jose Hernandez Comerma of Florida and Charles Quintard Beech III of Texas, each pleaded guilty in Houston federal court to a conspiracy count, and Mr. Hernandez also pleaded to one substantive count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars the use of bribes to get or keep business. They are scheduled to be sentenced July 14. Mr. Beech is represented by Hilder & Associates, P.C. Link
Environmentalists plan to sue Pasadena refinery for Clean Air Act violationsDecember 22, 2016Houston ChronicleFirm client Sierra Club and Environmental Texas have announced in a statement that they intend to file suit against Pasadena Refinery System, Inc. which is controlled by Petrobus, the state-controlled oil company of Brazil. The law suit will allege the refinery violated the emission standards of the Clean Air Act. Philip Hilder “is local counsel representing the Sierra Club and Environmental Texas”Press Release
Houston’s new police chief: Body cameras should start recording automatically after police leave vehiclesDecember 15, 2016Houston ChronicleAfter just two weeks on the job, Art Acevedo, Houston’s new police chief, is calling for two major changes in department policy to improve transparency. He wants body cameras to start recording automatically when police officers exit their vehicles, and he plans to create a specialized unit this spring that will investigate officer-related shootings and alleged wrongdoing by police.“To me the relationship between a police department and a community starts with legitimacy,” Acevedo told the Houston Chronicle this week. “Cameras and the way we investigate officer-involved shootings … is absolutely the most important aspect of what we do to build that legitimacy and to build that trust. That’s why I’m starting there.”Philip Hilder, a member of the city’s Independent Police Oversight Board and a former federal prosecutor, said he thought a specialized unit would be more effective and “create the independence that is sorely needed.” Link
AM 720 Radio: Voice of TexasDecember 2, 2016Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder was a guest on Voice of Texas AM-720, Houston, to discuss the Court’s ruling against the Montrose Management District regarding tax collection. Link
Former HISD president participated in bribery scheme, jury findsHouston ChronicleNovember 16, 2016A bribery lawsuit that kept a cloud of suspicion over the Houston school district for six years ended Wednesday with a jury finding that former board president Larry Marshall participated in a kickback scheme that caused millions of dollars in damages to a local construction contractor.No criminal charges have been filed. But the civil lawsuit caught the attention of federal authorities several years ago and the verdict could reignite interest in the case.“As in any civil case, there is a long trail of evidence that’s left in its wake,” said Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “You can bet that investigators will be combing over that to see if there’s any basis for them to follow up criminally.”Marshall’s age and health also would be considered, Hilder said. Link
Exxon, Enviros Tangle Over Refinery Pollution LiabilityLaw 360November 22, 2016Exxon Mobil Corp. and environmentalists crossed swords Monday over what the oil giant’s liability and civil penalties for alleged pollution at a Baytown, Texas, refinery should be, in a Clean Air Act citizen suit that was recently revived.The Fifth Circuit in May had revived the long-running suit brought by Environment Texas Citizen Lobby Inc. and the Sierra Club, which contended that ExxonMobil should have to pay penalties for environmental law violations stemming from the Baytown refinery’s emissions. The appellate panel found that the Texas federal judge unevenly analyzed the groups’ claims.On appeal, the environmentalists said Judge Hittner erred by not finding that the company’s own reports proved more than 18,000 days of actionable violations. Moreover, he did not order any remedy for 94 violations of the law that he did find actionable, the groups said. They said the judge wrongly used a larger number of smaller violations as grounds to discount more-serious violations.For its part, ExxonMobil argued that even though its massive Baytown refinery will never be able to operate completely pollution-free, it remains a “leader in environmental compliance.” The Clean Air Act takes that inevitability into account by allowing industrial facilities like the Baytown complex to emit a certain level of pollutants during their normal operations, the company argued.The appeals court sided with the environmental groups, concluding that Judge Hittner had ruled on one aspect of the environmentalists’ case that the violations listed in ExxonMobil’s own reports were undisputed but in another portion of his ruling found them to be “uncorroborated.”The Fifth Circuit also took exception with Judge Hittner’s finding that though there were 94 actionable violations by his count in the record, no penalty was warranted. The appeals court ordered the court on remand to tally up penalties to match the actionable violations found.The appeals court subsequently denied ExxonMobil’s en banc rehearing request in August.The environmental groups are represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Charles C. Caldart and Joshua R. Kratka of the National Environmental Law Center, and David A. Nicholas. Link
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton exhausts indictment appeals, prepares for securities fraud trialDallas Morning NewsNovember 1, 2016Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has exhausted his options for appeal and is preparing to stand trial for securities fraud sometime next year.“We are preparing for trial in the state matter and have confidence in the strength of our case,” Paxton’s attorney Philip Hilder said Tuesday in a prepared statement. “We look forward to trying the case in Collin County.”While the criminal court’s denial to quash Paxton’s indictments marked a loss for the first-term Republican, Hilder said his client was encouraged by a federal judge’s recent decision to temporarily throw out the civil charges.“The federal judge’s recent dismissal of the SEC case highlights the challenges the special prosecutors will have, as the fraud allegations in the dismissed SEC case mirror those in the state case. Moreover, the burden of proof in the criminal case is far greater than that of the SEC case,” Hilder said. Link
Paxton moves closer to trial in criminal fraud caseThe Texas TribuneNovember 1, 2016Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are no longer asking to have a state securities fraud case against him dismissed, moving him closer to a trial on the criminal charges.Paxton’s legal team confirmed Tuesday that it was getting ready for a trial, five days after a deadline passed for it to try one more time to persuade the state’s highest criminal court to look at the case. They apparently passed on that opportunity.“We are preparing for trial in the state matter and have confidence in the strength of our case,” Paxton lawyer Philip Hilder said in a statement.
Death row inmate sues state’s highest criminal court over DNA testingAustin American-StatesmanOctober 31, 2016A death row inmate has sued the state’s highest criminal court and its nine judges, arguing that they have deprived him of the opportunity to prove his innocence.Lawyers for death row inmate Larry Swearingen argue that the Court of Criminal Appeals adopted a flawed and unconstitutional interpretation of a state law intended to allow inmates to seek DNA tests, particularly if modern testing techniques were not available when they were convicted. Mr. Swearingen is represented by Firm counsel, James Rytting
SEC Whistleblower Awards Rise, Surpassing 100 MillionThe StreetOctober 13, 2016In the past, whistleblowers were forced to remain silent and were viewed as pariahs, said Philip Hilder, a white collar criminal defense attorney who is founder of Hilder & Associates in Houston and a former federal prosecutor who has represented whistleblowers in Enron, Countrywide, News Corp., Imperial Sugar, Dynegy and the Jack Abramoff scandals. Nowadays, they have become a protected class.“The SEC has elevated whistleblowing to new heights,” he said. “No one sets out to be a whistleblower. In essence, the SEC program turns ordinary employees into undercover detectives if they see an impropriety and turn in bad behavior.” Companies must address this issue and make sure their culture respects and listens to whistleblowers and adheres to a code of conduct with a compliance department that is open and receptive to them. “They need to face a new reality,” Hilder said. “They need to be responsive and make sure their policies are not just on paper.”In many cases, employees want to be heard and their first line of defense is to bring it to management’s attention. “Managers should be responsive and conduct an internal investigation and either provide feedback or correct the situation,” he said. “If they fail and don’t have that openness about them, its quite foreseeable that employees wont feel loyal to the company and will go immediately to external sources and report it.”
Court rejects Paxton appeal of criminal charges, making trial likelyAustin American StatesmanOctober 12, 2016The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday rejected Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to dismiss securities fraud charges against him, setting the stage for a trial that could begin as early as spring. Defense lawyers, arguing that the charges against Paxton lacked merit, said they will ask the court to reconsider its decision.“We anticipate filing a motion for rehearing because we have tremendous confidence in our case,” Paxton lawyers Philip Hilder and Bill Mateja said in a written statement. Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton.
Terrorism suspect may change his pleaHouston ChronicleSeptember 28, 2016Al Hardan, 24, an Iraqi-born Palestinian, immigrated to the Houston area as a teenager. At the time of his arrest, he was living with his parents, his wife and the couple’s 10-month-old baby.Al Hardan was indicted in January on allegations he was attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a designated foreign terrorist organization.Terrorism cases have been tougher to defend since the Sept. 11 attacks, according Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now represents white collar defendants.“In this environment representing an accused terrorist is extremely difficult because emotions run high. I think people are rightfully anxious. There is heightened concern and heightened awareness for these types of cases throughout the country,” Hilder said.For a defendant who intended to have a jury trial – as records indicate Al Hardan did – prosecutors sometimes offer some concession in exchange for a plea.They may dismiss some charges or ask the judge issue a reduced sentence.In striking a plea deal, prosecutors may, in turn, ask for a defendant’s cooperation with their investigation, Hilder said. “The stakes are high in a terrorism investigation because there could be others involved that the government doesn’t know about.” Link
Weatherford to pay $140 million fine to settle allegations of accounting fraudHouston ChronicleSeptember 28, 2016The Securities and Exchange Commission hit Weatherford International with its biggest financial penalty of the year, alleging that deceptive accounting practices used by the oilfield services company to inflate profits extended beyond gross negligence to outright fraud.In an email, Hudgins’ attorney, Philip Hilder, said his client “cooperated fully with the SEC’s investigation and settled the matter without admitting to any charge, including fraud. He is pleased to have the matter behind him.” Link
Weatherford Pays $140M SEC Fine Over False Tax AccountingLaw 360September 27, 2016Oil field services giant Weatherford International PLC has agreed to pay a $140 million fine to settle U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges it inflated its earnings by more than $900 million over five years by using deceptive income tax accounting, the SEC announced Tuesday.Weatherford paid the fine without admitting or denying the SEC’s allegations that it fraudulently lowered its year-end provision for income taxes by as much as $154 million on financial statements released in 2007 through 2011 in order to meet its previously disclosed effective tax rate, which Weatherford had touted as a competitive advantage.In a press conference Tuesday discussing the settlement, SEC Enforcement Director Andrew Ceresney said Weatherford had committed a “major accounting fraud,” and touted the charges against Hudgins and Kitay as proof that the SEC is holding individual actors accountable.An attorney for Hudgins, Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates, said his client had cooperated fully with the SEC investigation and noted that Hudgins also reached a no-admit, no-deny settlement with the agency.“He is pleased to have the matter behind him,” Hilder said. Link
Weatherford International to pay $140 million for accounting fraudReutersSeptember 27, 2016Oil services company Weatherford International LLC has agreed to pay a $140 million penalty to settle charges it inflated earnings between 2007 and 2012 by using deceptive income tax accounting, U.S. regulators said on Tuesday.Weatherford’s former vice president of tax, James Hudgins, and former tax manager Darryl Kitay made numerous adjustments to their final calculations “to fill gaps” to match the average tax rate on pretax profit that Weatherford disclosed to investors, the SEC said.“Our client cooperated fully with the SEC’s investigation and settled the matter without admitting to any charge including fraud,” said Philip Hilder, Hudgins’ lawyer in Houston, Texas.Hudgins and Kitay neither admitted nor denied the allegations, the SEC said. Link
Houston’s police oversight group called a ‘toothless watchdog’Houston ChronicleSeptember 19, 2016Leading the current reform charge in Houston is Philip Hilder, a member of the oversight board and former federal prosecutor, who has publicly called for the board to have the power to initiate its own investigations with paid staff, limited subpoena power and a security clearance so that it can monitor highly intrusive new electronic spying technology used to intercept cellphone calls.“I believe that the oversight board needs to be reconstituted to be given clear, independent authority to investigate independently of the police department, and make recommended policy changes directly to the police department, the mayor’s office and City Council,” Hilder said. “As the board is currently constituted, its mission is to review a body of cases that have been referred to it by HPD’s Internal Affairs. True independence would be gained if the board has the ability to initiate its own investigation when appropriate.” Link
Former federal prosecutor calls for broader evidence dump investigationKHOUSeptember 7, 2016A former federal prosecutor says the time is now for the FBI and others to get involved in the Precinct 4 evidence dump. He calls the situation “horrible” and one that needs immediate intervention.“You absolutely cannot run a law enforcement agency like that,” said former Assistant US Attorney Philip Hilder.He believes the Precinct 4 evidence dump, which has already resulted in the dismissal of at least 142 cases, warrants a federal investigation.“This appears not to be an isolated incident,” said Hilder. “There are hundreds of cases that are affected, and because of that, it’s a system-wide failure,” he added. Link
Hilder: Houston’s Police oversight panel needs more teethHouston Chronicle Philip HilderPhilip Hilder was a featured in the Houston Chronicle regarding the Police Oversight Board. Link
Federal Judge Questions SEC Case Against Texas AG PaxtonBreitbartSeptember 5, 2016Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, one of the attorneys for AG Paxton told Breitbart Texas, “The SEC sued Mr. Paxton for securities fraud in a complaint that fails to allege that he made a single false statement. The court was skeptical of the Government’s theory by stating that the allegations where akin to attempting to ‘fit a square peg into a round hole’.” Link
HISD cuts ties with its chief auditorHouston ChronicleSeptember 1, 2016The Houston school district’s chief auditor was notified Wednesday afternoon that trustees were dismissing him, ending a relationship that had become increasingly fractured in recent months.Patton’s attorneys are likely to argue in court that the decision not to renew the auditor’s contract is evidence of further retaliation, said Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who has represented several high-profile whistleblowers in lawsuits.“If he’s had a good performance history over the years, the fact that the contract was not renewed may be viewed skeptically,” Hilder said. “But there may be valid reasons that are going to have to be determined. It can’t be viewed in a vacuum.” Link
5 Conversations Lawyers Should Avoid At WorkLaw 360For lawyers working long hours, it’s not an uncommon occurrence to talk to colleagues more than some close. While that camaraderie can lead to lasting relationships, conversation that takes a hard turn into gossip or touchy personal business can just as easily spoil workplace connections.Philip Hilder, founding partner of Hilder & Associates PC, says unless you’re certain of a colleague’s stance on a political issue, and you’re certain that it’s in line with your own beliefs, it’s best to leave that talk outside the office.Hilder says topics like politics can be “divisive and highly emotional” and can end up driving a wedge between colleagues.“I think it’s common sense and it’s what I’ve observed over the years by others making missteps and getting involved in heated discussions – they leave nothing other than bad feelings on the table,” he said.Hilder says making jokes about some bigger missteps and gaffes from the presidential candidates could be safe in an election year, as “novel” as this one has been, but getting into policy discussions is often not a good idea. Link
Best Lawyers in AmericaPhilip Hilder has been selected for the 23rd Edition of the The Best Lawyers in America in the practice areas of: Commercial Litigation and Criminal Defense: White-Collar
Paxton Prosecutors Say AG’s Case Should Head For TrialLaw 360August 9, 2016The AG has said that a trial judge impermissibly screened a pool of potential grand jurors by asking who among them was “willing to serve,” saying the question rendered the grand jury void because the question was outside the parameters of grand jury selection outlined in state law. Paxton’s defense team includes Philip Hilder, Tate Williams and Paul Creech of Hilder & Associates P.C . Link
Ken Paxton files final appeal to dismiss fraud chargesAustin American StatesmanAugust 3, 2016Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has asked the state’s highest criminal court to dismiss felony charges that he defrauded investors during private business deals in 2011.Said Philip Hilder, Paxton’s lead appellate lawyer: “This petition was filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals to not only correct the lower court’s error but to end this improper prosecution.” Link
HISD’s Chief Officer ReinstatedHouston ChronicleAugust 3, 2016The Houston Independent School District’s chief auditor was allowed to return to work Wednesday, five months after the board suspended him for alleged misconduct and ordered an investigation.Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who has represented several whistleblowers, including former Enron executive Sherron Watkins, said the district’s reinstatement of Patton is “clearly a move to mitigate damages in a lawsuit.”“The fact that he was reinstated, I think, is indicative that he has credibility,” Hilder said. “They would not have reinstated him otherwise.” Link
Texas AG: Charged by a Rigged Grand Jury for a ‘Crime that does not Exist’Breitbart August 2, 2016 Lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton have filed an appeal arguing that the AG was indicted by a rigged grand jury for a crime that does not exist. Paxton’s lawyers are challenging the formation of the grand jury that returned all three indictments. Philip Hilder told Breitbart Texas, “These criminal charges came out of a specially-selected grand jury that allege a crime that does not even exist under law.” Link
Judge Drops Charges Against Anti-Abortion Activists Behind Covert RecordingsNPRJuly 26, 2016 A district judge in Texas has dismissed the last remaining criminal charges against two activists who covertly recorded videos of themselves attempting to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. “The grand jury initially had their target, Planned Parenthood, but I think after reviewing the evidence, they were deeply troubled by it and that’s why they turned the tables and indicted the videographers. I mean, it’s a very unusual turn of events here,” Texas criminal defense attorney Philip Hilder told NPR at the time. Link
Greens Fight Exxon En Banc Bid In 5th Circ. Pollution RowLaw 360July 25, 2016 Environmentalists on Monday told the Fifth Circuit that it is not necessary to have an en banc review of a recent decision reviving a $641 million Clean Air Act citizen suit brought against ExxonMobil over alleged emissions at the company’s Baytown, Texas, refinery. The environmental groups are represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Charles C. Caldart and Joshua R. Kratka of the National Environmental Law Center, and David A. Nicholas. Link
Ex-Baseball Exec Gets 46 Months for Hacking Into Astros DataTexas Lawyer July 18, 2016 Philip Hilder, a former Houston federal prosecutor who was in the courtroom when Correa was sentenced, said Hughes handed down a relatively harsh sentencing in the hacking case because of its high profile nature. “The judge used this as providing deterrence value and giving him a sentence that was higher than the low end of the guidelines and one that was enough to reflect what was the seriousness of the hacking,” Hilder said. “The judge felt like it was not confined to a $1.7 million loss, but society loses when something like this happens.” Link
Ex-Cardinal executive gets stiff sentence for hacking Astros-Houston Chronicle July 18, 2016 Houston attorney and former prosecutor Philip Hilder, who predicted Correa would face as much as four years in prison, based on federal sentencing guidelines, said the actual 46-month term was higher than he expected for a first-time offender. “It is within the guideline range but a bit higher than anticipated for a first-time offender,” Hilder said. “Usually, a defendant in a similar situation would receive a sentence on the lower end of the range, but here a bit more time was given in order to use this as a teachable anti-hacking lesson that will act as a deterrence to others. This being a high-profile case worked against Mr. Correa.” Link
Ex-Cardinals exec to be sentenced in Astros hacking caseHouston Chronicle July 17, 2016 Although federal guidelines allow judges considerable sentencing leeway, a former federal prosecutor says former St. Louis Cardinals executive Christopher Correa could face a prison term of more than three years Monday for his guilty plea to gaining unauthorized access to the Astros’ computer database. Houston attorney Philip Hilder, who formerly was in charge of the Houston office of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force and worked with the Presidential Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. But based on Hilder’s knowledge of federal sentencing formulas, he predicted the former Cardinals executive will face a sentence of 36 to 47 months. “He is looking at real time,” Hilder said. Link
Will HPD Start Using Its Bomb Squad Robots for Lethal Force, Too?Houston Press July 12, 2016 Dallas Police Chief David Brown defended his department’s use of the robot, saying that any other options would have exposed more officers to grave danger. He reportedly said at a news conference Monday, “This wasn’t an ethical dilemma for me.”Others across the country, like Houston lawyer Philip Hilder, fear that the advent of using robots as police-hired hit men could lead to irresponsible use of the technology. Hilder, in a statement, questioned whether the technology was appropriate even in the Dallas situation, in which the suspect was surrounded, talking to authorities and holding no hostages. “Clear rules of engagement to utilize this new policing technology must be established to prevent a slippery slope of killing citizens without the benefit of due process,” Hilder said. Link
Dallas court again denies Ken Paxton appeal to punt indictmentsDallas Morning News July 1, 2016 A Dallas appeals court that has already denied one attempt by Ken Paxton to do away with his three felony indictments again rejected on Thursday a request for the judges to reconsider. Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s attorneys, said they anticipating appealing the entire case to the Court of Criminal Appeals. “We are evaluating our options but anticipate petitioning the Court of Criminal Appeals as we strongly disagree with this Court’s reasoning and rationale.”
ExxonMobil May Face Many Millions In Fines After Court Reverses Baytown Refinery DecisionHouston Public MediaMay 30, 2016Six years ago, two groups, the Sierra Club and Environment Texas, filed a citizens’ lawsuit against ExxonMobil’s huge refinery in Baytown, one of the biggest in the country. The groups said they had to take action because government regulatory agency had not.Two years ago, after a civil trial, a federal judge in Houston said despite evidence of thousands of pollution violations, the company was not liable for any penalties.ExxonMobil had won.But then, the Fifth Circuit federal appeals court reviewed the case and late last week it said the judge was wrong.“This is huge news. We took on the world’s biggest energy company,” said Luke Metzger with Environment Texas, talking with reporters in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Houston. “We think this is great news for anyone downwind of polluting facilities.”The case will now go back to the trial court with orders that the judge re-think assessing penalties, penalties which could be in the many of millions of dollars. Hilder and Associates counsel Philip Hilder and Will Graham are local counsel for the plaintiffs.
Texas Eye Clinic Can’t Dodge Medicare Billing FCA SuitLaw 360 May 30, 2016 A Texas Eye Clinic lost its bid to dodge a False Claims Act suit alleging that is billed Medicare for $807,000 in fraudulent reimbursements when a Texas federal judge ruled Friday that the government’s allegations are specific enough to allow the case to proceed. The whistleblower Qui Tam relator is represented by James Rytting, Paul Creech, and Philip Hilder. The matter it Sorensen, ex rel., et al. v. Outreach Diagnostic Clinic et al. Case pending in the United District Court Southern District of Texas. Link
5th Circuit Revives Enviros’ $641M Exxon Pollution SuitLaw 360 May 27, 2016 The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has vacated the district court’s judgement and has Remanded for Assessment of Penalties Against Exxon Mobile Corporation in an Environmental case brought by Plaintiffs Environmental Texas Citizen Lobby, and Sierra Club. Hilder and Associates, P.C. counsel Philip Hilder and Will Graham represent Plaintiffs as local counsel. Exxon Mobil Corporation will have to face a $641 million suit brought by environmentalist over emissions at its Baytown Refinery. Link to Story
Why Some Montrose Residents Protested Those Chopped-Down TreesHouston PressMay 25, 2016The trees brought the neighbors together again last week when the Montrose Management District sent over some tree cutters to chop several of them down.Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal-defense attorney whose office is on that block, was among the first to notice the trees falling. He ran outside and, seeing that the tree cutters were finished chopping down the trees in one Lovett Boulevard median esplanade and were moving on to the next esplanade, hurried over and physically blocked the tree cutters from going through with it.“When you look at and appreciate something for years like I have those trees, you take them for granted until they’re no longer there,” said Hilder. “It became very apparent to me when the trees were coming down. I felt like something was being taken from me.” Link
Appeals Court Asked to Toss Paxton Charges Over Grand Jury SelectionHouston ChronicleMay 12, 2016Texas’ 5th Court of Appeals, in an unusual hearing with every available judge present, on Thursday questioned whether the criminal securities fraud case against Attorney General Ken Paxton may be flawed because of the way the grand jury that indicted him was chosen.Paxton’s attorney asked the court to dismiss the felony charges because a judge included “volunteers” on the grand jury, instead of randomly quizzing potential jurors. He also argued that the law under which Paxton was indicted is preempted by a federal law and effectively has been repealed. Hilder & Associates, P.C. represents Mr. Paxton with Philip Hilder as co-lead counsel. Link
Press Release: Philip Hilder selected for Nation’s Top One PercentPhilip Hilder, of Hilder & Associates P.C., has been selected to the 2016 list as a member of the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel. NADC is an organization dedicated to promoting the highest standards of legal excellence. Its mission is to objectively recognize the attorneys who elevate the standards of the Bar and provide a benchmark for other lawyers to emulate. Members are thoroughly vetted by a research team, selected by a blue ribbon panel of attorneys with podium status from independently neutral organizations, and approved by a judicial review board as exhibiting virtue in the practice of law. Due to the incredible selectivity of the appointment process, only the top one percent of attorneys in the United States are awarded membership in NADC. This elite class of advocates consists of the finest leaders of the legal profession from across the nation. Press Release
Texas Still Embraces Its Rogue PoliticiansApril 25, 2016Legal troubles facing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seem to have little effect, Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel defending Mr. Paxton who is under criminal indictment for securities fraud. Link
Ethics Panel May Strip Anonymity from Those Asking for Rulings, Such As in the Ken Paxton CaseDallas Morning NewsApril 21, 2016Firm attorney Philip Hilder, co-lead counsel for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arrive at the courthouse together.
Why Did the U.S. Government Give Bahram Mechanic a Get-Out-of-Jail Free Card?Houston PressApril 14-20 2016Imprisoned Iranian-American who had long run afoul U.S. Export laws, was given a pardon by the US Government for murky reason. As a federal prosecutor, Philip Hilder received a conviction of Bahram Mechanic.“To get prosecuted by the U.S. government is a very physically and emotionally disruptive procedure for a defendant,” said Hilder, who left the U.S. Attorney’s Office and now runs a private practice white collar criminal defense firm in Houston. “Mechanic is very fortunate that the judge saw it fit not to give him prison in the first prosecution. His luck has obviously followed. Getting a pardon at that stage of the proceedings is akin to winning the Powerball lottery.” Link
Two are indicted in federal kickback InquiryL.M. Sixel April 21, 2016A federal grand jury in Houston indicted two men on charges of international money laundering and wire fraud in conjunction with an eight-year scheme stretching from Houston to London to Cameroon to the Cayman Islands, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson said Thursday.There are several reasons federal prosecutors may not identify individuals in a criminal complaint, said Philip Hilder, a white-collar crime defense attorney with Hilder & Associates in Houston.The government might be protecting their identity because they are cooperating with the prosecution, or they may be criminal targets, said Hilder, a former prosecutor who is not involved in this case. Link
Texas AG Questions SEC Lawsuit timing, Cites Coming SCOTUS Executive Amnesty FightLana ShadwickApril 13, 2016Houston lawyer Phillip Hilder, one of the attorneys who represents the AG told Breitbart Texas, “Mr. Paxton vehemently denies the allegations in the civil lawsuit and looks forward not only to all of the facts coming out, but also to establishing his innocence in both the civil and criminal matters.”Hilder, who represented Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins added, “While it is not surprising that the SEC filed this identical civil lawsuit, because it happens almost all of the time, it is surprising that the SEC chose to file this civil lawsuit nearly a year after the Collin County special prosecutors filed their criminal case, particularly where the civil lawsuit mirrors the criminal case. The timing is also questionable since there are writs before the Court of Appeals that if successful, would throw out the criminal charges. The timing of the SEC suit appears to be an attempt to adversely influence the Court.” Link
Ken Paxton appeal could have limited impactAmerican StatemanApril 8, 2016Chuck LindellPhilip Hilder, one of five Paxton lawyers and the attorney in charge of his appeal, said too much time has passed since the crimes allegedly occurred in 2011 to give prosecutors another crack at indictments.“If we are successful, we believe that they will not have the ability to re-indict. They have a statute of limitations bar,” Hilder told the American-Statesman on Thursday. Hilder said Paxton’s defense did not intentionally focus on the lesser charge.“We address the issues as we see them. We’re not putting an emphasis on one charge over another,” Hilder said. “We are addressing the fatal flaws and weaknesses of the different aspects of the indictments.”By limiting potential members to volunteers, Oldner destroyed the random nature of grand juries in violation of Texas law, Hilder said in a brief to the appeals court.What’s more, Hilder wrote, Oldner’s actions placed Paxton at risk because of the heavy media scrutiny given to the investigation and potential indictment of the attorney general. “This publicity and the court’s selection of volunteers to serve as grand jurors assured that anyone who wished to serve specifically to indict Paxton could do so,” he told the court.
Federal Suit Threatens Oil MergerHouston ChronicleApril 6, 2016Halliburton and Baker Hughes face antitrust concerns after the Justice Department plans to file an antitrust lawsuit that “could take years” said Philip Hilder, a formal federal prosecutor and founder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. in Houston. “There’s quite a but of money at stake here”. Link
Ken Paxton Appeal Given Rare Treatment by CourtStatesmanApril 2, 2016In a highly unusual move, the entire 5 th Court of Appeal will decide on whether to dismiss criminal securities charges against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Paxton co-lead counsel, Philip Hilder said the courts announcement shows that it “recognizes that these are imports issues to consider.”
Attorney: New Grand Jury Takes No Action Against Texas Attorney GeneralCBS NewsMarch 23, 2016Attorney Philip Hilder said Wednesday that Special Prosecutors told him no action will be taken against Paxton, who has faced two grand jury investigations since becoming Attorney General.Hilder said the outcome confirms the investigation was meritless. Mr. Hilder and Hilder & Associates, P.C. are co-lead counsel to the defense of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Link
Aubrey McClendon’s indictment signals energy industry crackdownMarch 3, 2016The energy industry can expect to see more federal prosecutions in the wake of the U.S. Department of Justice’s indictment of Aubrey McClendon, the former CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) who died in a singe-vehicle car crash in Oklahoma City on March 2.The DOJ’s pursuit of McClendon is a sign of an overall crackdown on the energy industry that will likely result in more prosecutions, said Philip Hilder, founding partner of Houston-based white-collar crime firm Hilder Associates PC and former head of the DOJ’s Houston field office.“I think this case represents a coming trend of DOJ antitrust prosecutions,” said Hilder. “The antitrust division, along with the rest of DOJ, is putting an emphasis on individual accountability and responsibility.”Furthermore, the oil and gas sector, and the area of bid-rigging in particular, is perhaps seen by the DOJ as rife with targets, resulting in the federal body increasing its footprint in the industry, said Hilder.“The fact that the DOJ is expanding its footprint is, I think, a manifestation of also additional forays into areas that they haven’t been involved in before that may be target-rich environments,” said Hilder. Link
ABA Annual National Institute on White Collar CrimeMarch 2, 2016Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder, moderates Antitrust Prosecution Trends at ABA Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime, San Diego, CA Link.
Johnny Manziel’s domestic violence complaint referred to Dallas DA’s officeFebruary 25, 2016Philip Hilder is asked for comments on the referral of the complaint to the DA’s office. Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor, said it was unusual for police to refer a misdemeanor case to the district attorney, who now has the option of taking it to the grand jury. “Given (Manziel’s) celebrity status and popularity from when he played football, going to a grand jury is a way to insulate the authorities from criticism from either acting or not acting on the case and allowing a body of citizens to make that determination,” Hilder said. Link.
Paxton lawyers optimistic over Perry rulingFebruary 25, 2016Wednesday’s appeals court decision that spared former Gov. Rick Perry from trial on criminal charges has given hope to defense lawyers for Attorney General Ken Paxton, another elected official facing possible prison time.“We are analyzing the opinion and are optimistic that portions of the ruling will be supportive of our position,” Paxton lawyer Philip Hilder said.
Experts: Paxton Appellate Arguments Come Too SoonFebruary 24, 2016Philip Hilder, counsel for Mr. Paxton, gives a few comments on the appeal filed on his behalf Link
CBS News/Houston Chronicle: Cold Case Involving priest faces obstaclesFebruary 13, 2016Philip Hilder gives commentary regarding cold case involving Priest and a woman killed in 1969 after confession.
Fifth Circuit Appeals CourtFebruary 2, 2016Environment Texas and Sierra Club presented oral argument before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals relating to an adverse decision handed down after a three-week trial with ExxonMobil. The foundation of the argument was that ExxonMobil should be sanctioned for violating their Clean Air Act permits. Hilder & Associates, P.C., Firm attorneys, Philip H. Hilder and Will Graham, were local trial counsel to Sierra Club/Environment Texas. Link
U.S. v City Nursing Service of TexasJanuary 27, 2016Hilder & Associates P.C. represents the Whistleblower, Relator in the US v City Nursing Services of Texas. The U.S. District Court issued an opinion and order that the Governments Motion for Summary Judgment against defendant is granted.
National Public Radio (NPR)January 27, 2016Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder was a guest on NPR to provide analysis relating to the indictments of anti-abortion activists linked to the Planned Parenthood videos. Link
Houston Public RadioJanuary 26, 2016Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder appeared as a guest on Houston Public Radio; Houston Matters, to provide legal analysis relating to the indictments of anti-abortion activists linked to the Planned Parenthood videos. Link
Wall Street Journal: Jury Indicts Two Anti-abortion Activists Linked to Planned Parenthood VideosJanuary 25, 2016Firm counsel, Philip Hilder provided legal analysis relating to indictments of anti-abortion activists linked to the Planned Parenthood videos.Philip Hilder, a criminal defense attorney in Houston and former federal prosecutor, called the circumstances of the indictment “highly unusual.” He was not involved in the Planned Parenthood case.Mr. Hilder said that the grand jury likely uncovered new evidence during the course of their investigation that not only led them to clear Planned Parenthood but to also determine that the activists’ actions amounted to a crime. “The grand jury started out looking at one entity and realized they were being used and turned the tables,” he said. “And that is what a grand jury is supposed to do. They are supposed to be an independent investigative body.” Link
Ken Paxton appeal to stretch into spring, if not longerJanuary 23, 2016An appeal by Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is seeking to dismiss charges that he violated state securities laws, will extend at least into spring, with a strong chance of a ruling being delayed until summer or later.The Dallas-based 5th Court of Appeals has given Paxton’s lawyers until Feb. 22 to file a brief arguing why they believe the felony charges should be thrown out.Defense lawyers have informed the Dallas appeals court that their challenge will focus on four arguments that Gallagher had rejected in December:• The charge of failing to register as an investment adviser representative should be dismissed because Paxton was registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, trumping the state registration requirement.• The state failure-to-register law should be thrown out as unconstitutionally vague because it does not provide sufficient notice about what acts are prohibited.• The failure-to-register law should be thrown out because it unconstitutionally infringes on commercial speech by “regulating who and when a person may solicit clients for an investment adviser.”• All three charges should be tossed out because the Collin County grand jury that indicted Paxton was improperly formed.Both sides also designated the lead lawyers for the appeal – prosecutor Brian Wice and defense lawyer Philip Hilder.
Texas Lawyer- News MakersHONORS: Philip H. Hilder, principal Hilder & Associates, P.C. has been named one of the 2015 top 50 “White Collar Crime Trail Blazers” by The National Journal and was named the “ABA White Collar Crime Division Executive Director”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is now facing a grand jury investigation related to a Collin County, Texas, land deal back in the mid-2000sJanuary 20, 2016New special prosecutors have been appointed to investigate.This investigation is unrelated to the securities law violations that Paxton is presently under indictment for, issues previously reported by Breitbart Texas. The securities fraud case has been placed on hold by the criminal trial judge while issues related to the propriety of the indictments are on appealOne of Paxton’s lawyers in the securities fraud case, Philip H. Hilder from Houston told Breitbart Texas, “The trial Court has stayed further proceedings until all of our writs to dismiss the indictments are considered by the Court of Appeals. Litigation issues not involved with the appellate issues may still be considered by the trial court. Our appellate pleadings are solid and meritorious. We remain optimistic that we will prevail in the higher court.” Link
Efforts to Cap Paxton Prosecutors FeesJanuary 18, 2016Philip H. Hilder, Attorney for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declined to comment on efforts to cap prosecutor fees that would deviate from the normal fee schedule.Click For Texas Lawyer Story Angela Morris
Texas AG To Fight Securities Fraud Charges In Appeals CourtJanuary 4, 2016Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be appealing a lower court’s refusal to toss felony securities charges against him and is seeking to limit how much his prosecutors are being paid, according to documents he has filed in state district court in Texas.In filings separate from his Dec. 31 notice of appeal, the embattled attorney general objected to the special prosecutors’ pay.Mr. Paxton is represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates. Link
Texas AG Can’t Dodge Securities Fraud Charges, Judge RulesDecember 14, 2015A Texas state judge on Friday refused to toss a grand jury’s felony indictments accusing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton of breaking state securities laws by misleading investors and failing to register as an investment adviser.The attorney general on Thursday filed a brief arguing he had exposed flaws in the indictment process that “reveal questionable actions and poor judgment” by the judge who oversaw the grand jury. He said it was disingenuous and dishonest to characterize his questioning of alleged deficiencies in the grand jury process as a “Machiavellian plot.”Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder, Tate Williams, Paul Creech, Sunida Mejia and Stephanie K. McGuire of Hilder & Associates PC. Link
Judge declines to throw out Paxton indictmentsDecember 14, 2015The judge presiding over Ken Paxton’s criminal case has denied the attorney general’s attempts to have his three felony indictments thrown out.“Yes, all the motions we filed have been denied,” said Philip Hilder, one of Paxton’s attorneys. “We are extremely disappointed with the court’s ruling today as we believe that each of the motions was well founded. And we are currently reviewing options at this point which may include appeal.”Hilder said it is up to Gallagher whether he would put a trial on hold during the appeals process. Either way, he said the team thinks they will prevail: “We believe at the end of the process Mr. Paxton will be exonerated.” Link
Lawyer Bickering in Paxton Case Rare In Criminal LawDecember 3, 2015The latest pleadings in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s felony case have devolved to include nasty attacks and harsh rhetoric between the special prosecutors and Paxton’s defense lawyers. Experts say that type of bickering is rare in criminal cases.Philip H. Hilder, who has been a main author of pleadings on Paxton’s side, said he doesn’t like to see the discourse “get into the mud.” He noted that the case is under public scrutiny and intensely monitored by the media.“We have found ourselves responding to pleadings that were over-the-top in rhetoric,” said Hilder, principal in Hilder & Associates in Houston. “We intend to win this in a court of law, not in a court of public opinion, and I do think that the pleadings we have had to respond to were written with the court of public opinion in mind and for the snappy media bite, as opposed to focusing on the law and the merits. We’re not hiding and we are not running from the facts. We intend to hit them right on, because when the facts are known, we have full confidence that Mr. Paxton will be exonerated.” Link
Fighting Words: Lawyers Don’t Hold Back in Paxton PleadingsDecember 3, 2015Special prosecutors and defense lawyers in Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s case have attacked each other and bickered in recent pleadings which experts say is rare in the world of criminal law.Special Prosecutors used references to Mad Men and Animal House. Paxton’s legal team responded.“Paxton responds to the State’s bombastic and diversionary pleadings with additional evidence and legal analysis. Reply that repeatedly misrepresents both Paxton’s arguments and the law,” wrote Paxton lawyer Philip Hilder. “They are under the misguided belief that sound bites and quotes from fictional characters somehow trump Texas law and documented facts, and that they can project the failings of their own legal positions onto Paxton’s well-reasoned analysis. The reply is deeply troubling in that it also showcases attorneys’ pro tem misconception of their role as special prosecutors.” Link
Texas attorney general Ken Paxton back in court over fraud indictmentDecember 1, 2015Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is expected back in court on felony charges of defrauding investors.The hearing Tuesday in Paxton’s hometown of McKinney marks the first court appearance for the Republican since formally pleading not guilty in August. His attorneys have asked a judge to void the indictments handed up by a grand jury this summer.
Lawyers for Ken Paxton, prosecutors clash at hearingDecember 1, 2015Clashing at a pretrial hearing Tuesday, lawyers for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton blasted the criminal case against him as a “rogue prosecution,”Gallagher, however, declined to issue any rulings on defense lawyers’ multiple requests to dismiss three felony charges against Paxton, saying he will release written orders at an unspecified future date.Philip Hilder is co-lead counsel for Ken Paxton.
Texas AG Calls Securities Pleadings BombasticNovember 19, 2015Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday said that the prosecutors bringing felony securities charges against him were using “bombastic and diversionary pleadings” laced with sarcasm and fiction to disguise flaws in the indictments against the state’s top lawyer.In his latest volley in an attempt to quash three felony charges alleging that he misled investors and failed to register as an investment adviser, Paxton contended that the prosecutors bringing the case against him were trying to hide weaknesses in their indictments – including that a Collin County district judge violated grand jury secrecy – with drama and “fictional analogies” rather than law and facts, according to the response filed on Thursday.Philip Hilder is co lead counsel for Ken Paxton. Link
Paxton’s Attorneys Fire Back at ProsecutorsNovember 19, 2015Lawyers in Attorney General Ken Paxton‘s ongoing securities fraud case have fired back against special prosecutors in the latest in a series of back-and-forth court filings.In their Thursday filing, Paxton’s attorneys called the prosecutors’ reply to their motions to drop three felony charges “bombastic and diversionary.”“Attorneys Pro Tem attempt sarcasm and inappropriate fictional analogies to mask their unsubstantive Reply that repeatedly misrepresents both Paxton’s arguments and the law,” the court filing said. “They are under the misguided belief that sound bites and quotes from fictional characters somehow trump law and documented facts.” Link
Prosecutors Defend Securities Laws Challenged By Texas AGNovember 17, 2015Prosecutors on Monday defended Texas securities laws that state Attorney General Ken Paxton attacked as unconstitutionally vague, saying that when Paxton was a state representative, he voted for the law and can’t escape it now that he is charged with felony securities law violations.“The motion filed by Mr. Paxton focuses on overbroad and vague language found in the Texas Securities Act,” defense attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said Monday. “The state’s reply uses diversionary tactics to avoid addressing the substantive issues.” Link
Double Jeopardy Doesn’t Apply in Texas, State SaysNovember 13, 2015Prosecutors said Thursday that because their thorough investigation with the Texas Rangers into Paxton’s business dealings turned up information that state securities regulators did not possess when Paxton was fined in 2014, the fact the TSSB did not refer the matter for criminal prosecution does not mean the AG is off the hook.“The State Securities Board has the sole responsibility for administering and enforcing the indicted violation,” Paxton’s defense attorney Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said Thursday. “They passed on the prosecution and did not refer the matter to the special prosecutors who have no authority to pursue that charge.” Link
Texas AG Is Trying To Change Conversation, Prosecutors SayNovember 11, 2015Paxton is represented by Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Dan Cogdell of Cogdell Law Firm, Terri Moore and Heather Barbieri of Barbieri Law Firm PC, and Bill Mateja of Fish & Richardson PC. Link
Ken Paxton’s lawyers push to dismiss criminal chargesNovember 3, 2015Defense lawyers launched a broad attack on the criminal charges against Ken Paxton late Monday, arguing that misconduct by prosecutors and a previous judge subverted the grand jury process and required the indictments against the state attorney general to be thrown out.The co-lead of Mr. Paxton’s defense team, Philip Hilder, said the intent was to “bring to the court’s attention serious matters related to this prosecution.”
Indicted Texas AG’s lawyers ask judge to throw out chargesNovember 5, 2015Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton claims that his felony indictment on securities fraud charges this summer was bungled by grand jury leaks and a flawed investigation and has asked a judge to throw out the case. Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton.
Texas attorney general’s lawyers ask to dismiss chargesNovember 3, 2015Lawyers representing Texas’ attorney general are seeking to have the against him dismissed as they are accusing a judge of leaking secret grand jury information to his wife, who – in turn – shared details of the pending indictment. Philip H. Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Texas AG Says Grand Jury Flaws Should Quash ChargesNovember 3, 2015Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Monday launched an avalanche of motions aimed at knocking out felony securities fraud charges against him, arguing a state court judge took a series of cumulative actions during grand jury selection that violated his due process rights. Philip H. Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Attorney General Ken Paxton Files Motions to Dismiss Criminal Case Against HimNovember 2, 2015Attorneys for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed motions late Monday to throw out the criminal case against him in Collin County, citing alleged flaws with the grand jury process that led to his indictment. Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton. Link
Texas Criminal Court of Appeals Rejects Request of new DNA testingOctober 28, 2015 The Texas Criminal Court of Appeals has rejected the request of additional DNA testing on evidence by Larry Ray Swearingen, currently on death row. Mr. Swearingen is represented by Firm counsel James G. Rytting. The Court order denies Mr. Swearingen forensic evidence testing.
Judge sides with Paxton over grand jury subpoenasOctober 16, 2015A Texas Court granted Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request to subpoena records of how the grand jury that indicted him for securities fraud was selected. The special prosecutors moved to quash the subpoenas. The Paxton briefing supporting release was done by Hilder & Associates, P.C.Philip H. Hilder is co-lead counsel for Mr. Paxton’s defense team.Click for Houston Chronicle Story
10th Annual National Institute on Securities FraudOctober 2, 2015 New Orleans Firm attorney Philip H. Hilder moderated a panel on whistleblowers, Retaliation and Awards to the ABA National Institute on Securities Fraud in New Orleans. Included on the panel was former client Enron Whistleblower Sherron Watkins. Mr. Hilder is co-chair of the program.
Harris County Deputy Constable IndictedHouston ChronicleSeptember 26, 2015St. John Barned-SmithThe chief deputy of Harris County precinct 1 Constables office was indicted on charges of violating private security rules. “Indicting Mr. Maples was unnecessary,” said Philip Hilder, Maples’ attorney, on Friday afternoon. “The security company was operated on his own time. Being a deputy, he did not realize he needed to have yet another license to run his business. But when he learned of that, he immediately sought to become in compliance.
Philip H. Hilder Appointed to Texas AG’s Defense TeamHouston: Texas Attorney General appoints Philip H. Hilder as co-lead counsel to represent him in a criminal case accusing Mr. Paxton of securities fraud.Full Story Featured in:Dallas Morning NewsHouston ChronicleAustin StatesmanTexas Tribune
It’s High Time the 9/11 Five Were Brought to TrialNewsweek9/8/2015Philip Hilder and Gordon MehlerAs we approach the 14th anniversary of 9/11, we can marvel at the rebuilding of Ground Zero and the opening of the Freedom Tower and a moving memorial and museum. We can be comforted knowing that Osama bin Laden was taken out and that American soil has been spared further mass assaults.And yet, a critical element of closure is missing knowing that the five defendants accused of orchestrating that historic crime, including its alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), have not yet been brought to trial.For Full Story Click Here
Houston Attorney Philip Hilder Named to Top Lawyer Lists in Texas and USHilder honored for both white-collar criminal defense, commercial litigationHOUSTON – Noted white-collar criminal defense attorney Philip Hilder of Houston has earned selection in the most recent editions of The Best Lawyers in America and Texas Super Lawyers, two widely respected guides to the legal industry.The founder of Hilder & Associates, P.C., Mr. Hilder was selected for the 2016 edition of Best Lawyers for his work in commercial litigation. This marks the second year he has been recognized by Best Lawyers, the nation’s oldest peer-review listing. Mr. Hilder earned a spot in the 2015 edition of Texas Super Lawyers for his white-collar criminal defense work. He has been recognized in that publication since it debuted in 2003.Both Best Lawyers and Texas Super Lawyers make their selections based on nominations submitted by attorneys, independent research by the publications’ editors, and evaluations conducted by lawyers in the same practice areas. No more than 5 percent of the lawyers in Texas are chosen for the Texas Super Lawyers list.Mr. Hilder has represented a variety of clients, from energy industry executives and defense contractors to elected officials. He helped his high-profile whistleblower clients prevail in financial scandals involving Enron Corp. and Countrywide Financial Corp. He also assists companies with internal investigations.A former federal prosecutor in Houston, Mr. Hilder often is called upon by the media for his opinions on some of the country’s highest-profile criminal cases. Appointed by the mayor to the Houston Independent Police Oversight Board, he recently has spoken out for the privacy rights of individual citizens based on law enforcement’s use of cellphone tracking systems and video cameras.Hilder & Associates, P.C., provides a comprehensive range of legal services for individuals, corporate officers, businesses, and legal and financial professionals. The firm’s attorneys focus on white-collar criminal defense matters and related complex civil and administrative litigation, corporate compliance programs, grand jury investigations, attorney grievance defense, qui tam claims, whistleblower representation, internal corporate investigations, trials, and related parallel administrative and civil litigation and appeals. See more at /.
An American family saved their son from joining the Islamic State. Now he might go to prisonThe Washington PostSeptember 6, 2015 Julie Tate and Alice CritesHilder & Associates, P.C. represents one of the individuals mentioned in the article.For Full Story Click Here
DC Circuit Protects Secret Gov’t Programs In NSA RulingLAW360Emily FieldAugust 28, 2015The D.C. Circuit’s decision to lift a lower court’s injunction against the National Security Agency‘s phone metadata collection will have limited practical impact on the program soon to be curtailed by Congress, but attorneys say the ruling established a precedent making it difficult for plaintiffs to challenge other secret government programs.Public interest groups and private citizens who suspect that the government and law enforcement are engaging in secret surveillance will have difficulty proving standing in future suits, former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said, but it will only be a question of time before someone can demonstrate that his data has been pulled by the government and resulted in a conviction.“A clever defense attorney will try to get to the bottom of this and try to ferret this information out,” Hilder said.Hilder pointed out similarities between the NSA’s program and law enforcement’s use of “stingrays,” which are tracking devices that mimic cell towers and allow police to gather information from anyone whose phone connects to the tracker.Like with the NSA’s program, eventually a plaintiff will be able to come forward who can show her data was used by the government, Hilder said.“The police are anything but transparent about that because I think they realize they may be skating on thin ice ,” Hilder said. “If they were sure, they wouldn’t need a warrant, they wouldn’t be keeping it as hush-hush.”Click for Full Story Here
Court Ruling Another Blow to State Medical RegulatorsAustin American StatesmanJuly 16, 2015Eric DexheimerTexas court overturned a ruling in the State’s favor that Antoine Dental Center of Houston, Texas, had committed fraud. The ruling established that the state did not show fraud and that the practice should get its money back that has been subject of a hold.Hilder and Associates, P.C. were trial co-counsel for Antoine Dental. Philip Hilder, James Rytting and William Graham were part of the Antoine trial team. The ruling was a blow to the State’s prosecution of dentists and orthodontists.
Corn Wars: The Farm-by-Farm fight between China and the United States to dominate the global food supplyNew RepublicBrian StaufferAugust 16, 2015Mo. Hailong, the director of international business at a Beijing company who was indicted for allegedly stealing genetically modified hybrid corn seeds. Hilder & Associates P.C. is local counsel for Mo Hailong.For Full Story Click Here
Experts: Hacking probe will stretch if Cards execs involvedAPJuan LozanoJune 17, 2015The federal hacking investigation of the St. Louis Cardinals could take longer if high-level executives are implicated in the breach of the Houston Astros’ database, according to legal experts.The investigation is likely several months old, with much of the computer forensics work likely already complete, said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. Much of that forensics work would include scouring Astros servers for information about who logged on and whether any IP addresses — numbers that identify a particular computer on the Internet — lead back to someone inside the Cardinals organization.“At this stage in the investigation it will be key to determine, as to where the trail goes, who may have ordered or was aware of the activity,” Hilder said.“If the trail ends at rogue employees, obviously the investigation will conclude quicker,” Hilder said. “If they implicate higher-ups, there will have to be a fair amount of corroboration and that may take a while.”Click For Full Story Here
Astros defend Ground Control and take breach seriously; Cardinals vow to “get to bottom” of FBI probeChron SportsJune 17, 2015The Astros emphasized Wednesday that they consider the breach into their computer database “a very serious matter” and defended the original design of their system.Many federal court cases are disposed of by plea bargains, but the high-profile nature of the Astros case may give the government a platform to send a harsh message, with prison time instead of probation for offenders, said Houston attorney Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.“For any defendant in this case, it may be a dangerous place to be,” Hilder said. “The government will want to set an example to deter others and show that this is not a game.“Given the potential of hacking on such a wide scale, the government will never have the resources to deal with all hacking in an efficient way. Relying on sending a deterrent message in a high-profile case would be a vehicle for them.”For Full Story Click Here
DNA testing debate clouds fate of convicted killerHouston ChronicleJune 10, 2015Cindy HorswellLarry Swearingen, a client of Mr. James Rytting and Mr. Philip Hilder of Hilder and Associates P.C., is at the center of the post conviction DNA testing debate in Texas.James Rytting said. “We believe this testing could help show Swearingen was not the last person with the victim, that she was with someone else.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Questions Grown About Handling of Waco Biker CasesTexas TribuneTerri LangfordJune 10, 2015More than three weeks after Waco police arrested 177 bikers following a deadly shootout at a local restaurant, no charges have been filed in the killings, nearly half the bikers remain in jail on unusually high bonds, and more than a few legal experts – including former prosecutors – are starting to wonder what is going on in McLennan County.The sluggish process of sorting out the guilty from the innocent raises civil rights questions, and potentially exposes the county to significant costs for arresting and detaining people who had no involvement in alleged crimes, experts said.“In Waco, the situation was a bit different because it was reactionary and it was done in the heat of a catastrophic event,” said Philip H. Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now works in Houston as a criminal defense lawyer. “But the principle remains, there has to be probable cause to arrest an individual.”Hilder pointed to a 2002 mass arrest in Houston that ended up costing city officials there more than $1 million. A botched attempt to crack down on drag racing netted 273 arrests in a Kmart parking lot, though many of those arrested were passers-by and customers. Federal civil rights lawsuits forced the city to pay up more than $800,000 in settlements.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Use of video visits for inmates grows, along with concernsAssociated PressJuan A. LozanoMay 20, 2015Four-year-old William Cole saw his father’s face and reached out to touch it during a jail visit. But he could only feel a video screen.The facility in Fort Bend County, southwest of Houston, is among a growing number of jails and prison systems across the U.S. in which video visitation has replaced the more familiar in-person visits, where people are in the same room but separated by thick glass.Officials who run the facilities say video visits have improved security and increased visitation hours. However, prisoners’ rights advocates worry the trend is to eliminate free in-person visits for a system they say is full of technical glitches and could eventually require families to pay a fee.Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said while the Supreme Court has found that jail and prison visits can be restricted, the rise of video visitation could mean it’s time to revisit the issue.“There is room for technology to play a role here,” Hilder said. “But to say that technology should supplant personal visitation would be a grave error. I think it would create a lot more problems because people will feel much more disconnected by not having that human element.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Enviros Urge 5th Circ. To Revive $641M Exxon Pollution SuitLaw 360Kurt OrzeckMay 18, 2015Environmental groups on Friday urged the Fifth Circuit to revive their $641 million suit against Exxon Mobil Corp. over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act by excessive toxic discharges from an oil refinery.Plaintiffs are represented by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC, Charles C. Caldart and Joshua R. Kratka of National Environmental Law Center, and David A. Nicholas.Click For Full Story
Fundraiser Held for Congresswoman SinemaMay 17, 2015Philip Hilder hosted a brunch for Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). The event attended by Houston Mayor Annise Parker. Congresswoman Sinema is on the Financial Services Committee and recently became the Chief Deputy Whip for House Democrats.
NSA Data Collection Ruling To Fuel Congressional ActionLaw360Allison GrandeMay 7, 2015The Second Circuit’s finding Thursday that the National Security Agency’s bulk telephone data collection program is unlawful will provide privacy hawks in Congress the necessary support they need to curtail the agency’s controversial information-gathering powers as lawmakers face a June 1 deadline to renew the Patriot Act provision in question.“This Second Circuit opinion cannot be ignored in the reauthorization debate,” said Philip Hilder, the founder of Hilder & Associates PC and a former federal prosecutor. “It’s likely to give further support to those that wish to have the program curtailed and have some of the controversial data collection provisions gone.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Family in GET-THIN probe fights for $109 million in seized fundsLA TimesStuart PfeiferApril 24, 2015Federal agents have seized $109 million in cash and securities during an ongoing investigation of the businesses and individuals behind the 1-800-GET-THIN ad campaign for weight-loss surgery – and lawyers are fighting to get it back.An attorney representing three people behind the defunct Lap-Band surgery enterprise said the seizure was unjustified and frustrating to his clients because U.S. government officials have refused to disclose why they were entitled to take the money.Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now practices white-collar defense in Houston, said prosecutors should not be allowed to hold onto such a large sum of money without proving that it was the proceeds of a crime.“There are certain constitutional protections people have against unreasonable search and seizure,” Hilder said. “While they might have the right to file the seizure warrant, they just can’t do it indefinitely without following up with a civil action or moving the seized items into the criminal case.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
U.S. Ups Fight Against Agricultural EspionageWall Street JournalApril 23, 2015Jacob BungeThe WSJ story focus is the Government’s use of surveillance tactics in an alleged industrial espionage case. The allegation is that Mo Hailong, an Executive, sought to pilfer seeds from U.S. Agribusiness. Firm counsel Philip H. Hilder is assisting the defense team.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
HPD needs to explain how tracking devices workPhilip H. HilderHouston ChronicleApril 10, 2015The Houston Police Department needs to be transparent and accountable to Houstonians regarding its policies, training and current protocol as it relates to the use of technologies that track phone calls and record actions of citizens. Houston taxpayers deserve answers and should demand them.Our Police Department sought to equip 3,500 officers with $8 million in body cams and already has technology that can capture cellphone location and information. HPD needs to explain training and policy for these potentially invasive devices.Click for Full Story Click for Full Story PDF
Court: Man on death row for killing Corpus Christi officer can dieCaller TimesKrista M. TorralvaThe Fifth (5th) Circuit Court of Appeals has decided Firm Client Daniel Lee Lopez us competent to make his decisions and ruled no additional appeals will be allowed unless Lopez makes the request. Mr. Lopez is represented by Firm Counsel James Rytting.Click for Full StoryClick for Full Story PDF
Federal Bar Association Southern District of Texas March 2015 CLE LuncheonMarch 26, 2015Philip Hilder discussed “Observations on the Work of the Military Commissions at Guantanamo Bay” at the Federal Bar Association Southern District of Texas March 2015 CLE LuncheonClick for Brochure
Court upholds ruling on ‘seaman’s manslaughter’ in BP caseSan Antonio ExpressMarch 11, 2015APA federal judge correctly dropped 11 “seaman’s manslaughter” charges against two BP supervisors in the deaths of workers killed when the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the federal law does not apply to Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine, the top BP employees on the rig when it blew wild in 2010 and started the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.The decision could open the way for their trial on 11 counts of involuntary manslaughter and one of violating the Clean Water Act, if federal attorneys don’t ask for a rehearing or go to the U.S. Supreme Court.Philip Hilder, a Houston-based defense attorney for people accused of white-collar crimes who wrote in 2011 that there had been a resurgence of cases invoking the seaman’s manslaughter charge, said he has not noted a continued increase since the case against Vidrine and Kaluza was filed.“It’s certainly in the prosecutor’s arsenal. But it’s not widely utilized,” he said. He described the panel’s ruling as a common-sense analysis.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
St. Patrick’s spirit in H-Town: Traditions and celebrations abound on day when everyone’s IrishCulture Map HoustonMarch 3, 2015How do Houstonian Irish Americans celebrate their Irish heritage on St. Patrick’s Day? We asked three notable locals with Irish ties to fill us in on how they uphold Irish traditions, and where they’ll be celebrating the patron saint come March 17.“Although I’m not Irish, myself, I’ve always celebrated St Patrick’s Day. I grew up in Chicago where they turn the river green,” says Philip Hilder, a Houston lawyer and former federal prosecutor.Now married with four children, Hilder met his wife in her hometown of Ballymote, Ireland (their children, along with Hilder, have dual citizenship). Every summer since their first child was born 16 years ago, the Hilders travel to Ireland to keep cultural ties alive (and escape the Houston heat), ensuring that the kids grow up with a good sense of understanding of the Irish culture. Also an annual occasion, at home in Houston the family heads to their favorite Irish pub every year on St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s a tradition,” Hilder says. “It’s family-friendly and they have activities the kids enjoy such as Irish dancing and music. Since the kids spend every summer in Ireland, hanging out there reminds them that summer break is around the corner.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story
Attorneys React To High Court’s Sarbanes-Oxley ‘Fish’ RulingLaw 360February 25, 2015“The high court ruled that Section 1519 targets not all manner of evidence, but records, documents and tangible objects used to preserve them, e.g. computers, servers and other media on which information is stored. ‘Tangible object’ in Section1519, the Supreme Court concluded, is better read to cover only objects one can use to record or preserve information, not all objects in the physical world.” – Philip Hilder Hilder & Associates, P.C.Click For Full Story Click For Full Story PDF
S&P to Pay $1.5 Billion to Resolve Crisis-Era LitigationFebruary 3, 2015Timothy W. MartinWall Street JournalThe Justice Department detailed efforts by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services to relax standards to win business, shedding fresh light on the firm’s crisis-era behavior just as the two parties marked the end of a multiyear battle.S&P on Tuesday agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve litigation alleging it knowingly issued rosy grades of risky mortgage bonds before the crisis. As part of the deal, the government backed off demands that S&P admit to violating laws, reducing the firm’s exposure to future lawsuits.Investors rely on ratings from S&P, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings when deciding whether to buy bonds. Collectively, they issue about 95% of ratings globally.That dynamic makes punishing S&P a tough task, said Philip Hilder, a Houston-based lawyer and a former federal prosecutor. “You can’t come down too terribly hard on S&P without wounding the financial system,” Mr. Hilder said.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Case Against Former Gov. Perry to ProceedJanuary 27,2014Terri LangfordTexas TribuneA judge on Tuesday rejected former Gov. Rick Perry’s attempt to throw out a two-count indictment against him, saying it’s too early in the case to challenge the constitutionality of the charges.Philip Hilder, a Houston-based criminal lawyer, said he would have been surprised if Richardson had dismissed the indictment at this point.“At this stage of the proceeding, it’s rare to get an indictment kicked out,” Hilder said. “To do so would have been extraordinary.”Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Rick Perry’s Legal Fees: $1 Million and CountingJanuary 20, 2015Breitbart TexasSarah RumpfThe legal fees to defend Texas Governor Rick Perry since he was indicted by a grand jury last August for two felony charges have passed the one million dollar mark, according to the latest campaign finance report filed by his PAC, Texans for Rick Perry.“These are high stakes; very complicated; requires a lot of research and writing. But, you know, whether these fees are justified would depend on an analyzation of the billing records,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who now represents white-collar criminal defendants. “Because of attorney client privilege-well, we will never know.”Click for Full StoryClick for Full Story PDF
Philip Hilder Honored by the White Collar Crime Professional BlogDecember 31, 2014The White Collar Crime Professional Blog has honored Philip Hilder for work in the White Collar Crime area by bestowing him “The Collar” for 2014. The Collar was given to Mr. Hilder for “White Collar Integrity” for his outside counsel representing of University of Texas System “…whose written report exposed the legal absurdity of the Texas Legislator’s Wallace Hall Witch Hunt Referral.”
New Lawsuit in Comicbook CaseHouston ChronicleDecember 22, 2014Mike GlennTadano America Corporation filed suit against Harris County over expensive comic books that resulted in criminal charges against two Harris County Law Enforcement Officers. Tadano is represented by Hilder & Associates, P.C.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Philip Hilder names as a 2014 Top LawyerDecember 1, 2014Houstonia has named Philip H. Hilder a 2014 Top Lawyer as determined by AVVO rating service.
Investigator indicted in comic book caseHouston ChronicleMike GlennNovember 25, 2014On Tuesday, a Harris County grand jury indicted Dustin Deutsch, 41, for felony theft by a public servant and tampering with evidence.Deutsch and Lonnie Blevins, 39, his former partner at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office are accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of vintage comics that were evidence in an embezzlement case they were investigating.The FBI arrested Blevins in February 2013 – about two months after he left the district attorney’s office. Federal prosecutors said he “cooperated substantially” in their inquiry.Mount, a special prosecutor assigned to the case against Deutsch, said he didn’t know why federal prosecutors chose to concentrate their case on Blevins.“They have turned over their evidence to us. They no longer need it,” Mount said.Mount was assigned to the case as an independent special prosecutor because at the time both men were investigators with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.“These guys worked a number of things together over the course of their careers,” Mount said.Deutsch was suspended after Blevins was arrested and later resigned. They also own a private investigation business in Humble.Hilder & Associates represents the company and victim in the embezzlement case, Tadano America Corporation.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
American Bar Association 9th Annual National Institute on Securities FraudOn November 13-14, 2014 The ABA 9th Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud took place in New Orleans. The event is co-chaired by Firm attorney Philip Hilder.
Are financial whistleblowers worth it? Study says yes – to the tune of $21.27bnThe GuardianJana KasperkevicNovember 19, 2014Firm client Sherron Watkins is quoted in this piece on whistleblowing. She is pictured above with Philip HilderA new study tracking the economic effects of whistleblowers has found that people who come forward to report wrongdoing helped the US government secure $21.27bn more in fines over 35 years.The study, conducted by researchers from Arizona State University, American University, Texas A&M University and University of Iowa, set out to discover if the costs of promoting and maintaining programs set up for financial whistleblowers were worth it. It found that in cases where whistleblowers were involved:
- Firm penalties were $90.16m to $90.88m greater.
- Penalties imposed on executives and employees averaged $50.22m to $56.50m more than if no whistleblower was involved.
- The prison sentences for those involved were on average 21.86 to 27 months longer.
Finally, a solution to the pick-a-pal problemHouston ChronicleLisa FalkenbergNovember 17, 2014In an article regarding the Texas Grand Jury system, Philip Hilder was asked to comment:Grand jury service can be onerous and time-consuming on many working people, and prosecutors argue it would be hard to find enough randomly selected citizens willing to serve. Harris County grand juries, for instance, serve several hours twice a week for three months.“It’s a burden. But that’s our system. There’s no way around it,” says Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor for nearly seven years, focused on organized crime and drugs. He said federal juries can meet up to 18 months, often for one week per month, possibly several hours per day.Because of the hours, those grand jurors skewed older, just like they do in the state system, Hilder said, but in terms of race, religion and occupation, federal juries seemed to represent a cross-section of society, as the law requires.He saw everybody from construction workers to small business owners. He doesn’t recall ever seeing a police officer.“I’m not saying that the federal system is perfect,” Hilder said. “But I do think it’s a vast improvement to how the county operates.”“IQ doesn’t equate to common sense,” says Hilder, the former federal prosecutor. “You have people of high intellect and they may have no common sense. And you have someone who’s not educated and they have a lot of common sense. That’s the beauty of the system.”Click for Full StoryClick for Full Story PDF
Anti-corruption lawyers in high demand at Houston companiesHouston Business JournalSuzanne EdwardsOctober 14, 2014The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 (FCPA) and the U.K. Bribery Act of 2010 are perhaps some of the most sweeping anti-corruption legislation currently known to man. In short, both stipulate that parent companies are liable for the unscrupulous dealings of subsidiaries and even individual contractors at home and in other countries.As a result, Houston’s increasingly international companies and law firms are shoring up their supply of lawyers with expertise in compliance with FCPA and Bribery Act regulations.Phillip Hilder, founding partner of Hilder Associates PC, said the onus is increasingly on companies to self-report compliance issues.“There’s a growing awareness of improprieties and payoffs,” said Hilder.The need for compliance programs that increase a company’s chance of catching wrongdoing before a regulator does is driving the demand for compliance lawyers, said Hilder.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Perry Team Wants Grand Jury Transcript ProvidedTexas TribuneTerri LangfordOctober 10, 2014Defense lawyers for Gov. Rick Perry have asked that a transcript of the grand jury witness testimony that led to his indictment be made in the event there was information provided that could prove his innocence.The motion filed Friday asks that a transcript be ordered and that visiting Judge Bert Richardson view it privately to determine if grand jurors heard testimony about Perry’s actions that might help his case. A transcript would also force the special prosecutor to provide information favorable to Perry to his lawyers as required by law, the defense team argues.Typically, a transcript of grand jury testimony is not released unless a witness who testified before that panel testifies at trial, said Philip H. Hilder, a criminal defense attorney in Houston. However, it’s not an unusual request to have the transcript made before a trial begins.“It’s a perfectly acceptable tactic by the defense because it may enlighten the court as to arguments that were made,” Hilder said. But Hilder said the judge will likely stick to the law, not what the grand jury testimony shows, when deciding whether the indictment will stand.“The fact that the testimony itself might be exculpatory isn’t going to help the arguments that are already teed up before the court,” Hilder said.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
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Lawyers File Motion To Quash Perry’s IndictmentTexas TribuneTerri LangfordSeptember 8, 2014Gov. Rick Perry’s lawyers have filed a second challenge to the governor’s indictment on Monday, asking a judge to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds that the charges are unconstitutional.Although the new filing bears some of the same arguments offered in a writ of habeas corpus filed a week ago by Perry’s defense team, lawyers observing the case say there’s a reason to file both.“They say the same thing but they’re very different things,” explained Philip H. Hilder, a Houston defense attorney. “The writ is saying the judge doesn’t have the authority to move forward on the indictment, while the motion to dismiss is acknowledging that the court has the authority to act on indictment but it ought to be dismissed as a matter of law.”The judge’s decision on the motion to quash cannot be appealed by the defense, Hilder said. His decision on the writ can be and an appeal could freeze action on the case for months.“The danger of filing the writ here is the losing party will appeal, and that is going to slow matters to a grinding halt for a while,” Hilder said, adding that all action in the trial court would stop until the appeals court makes its ruling on the writ.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Philip H. Hilder recognized as one of the top lawyers in the nation and in TexasSeptember 5, 2014Firm counsel, Philip H. Hilder is recognize as one of the top lawyers in the nation and in Texas by two respected attorney rating services. The Best Lawyers in America, the preeminent listing of leading attorneys in the U.S. includes Mr. Hilder in its 2015 edition. He also has earned a spot in the 2014 Texas Super Lawyers consisting of the state’s top legal counsel. Super Lawyers is recognizing him for his white-collar criminal defense work. Mr. Hilder has been on the Super Lawyers list each year since it was created in 2003.Click For Full Press Release PDFClick For Full Press Release
Who Decides Perry’s Fate If Convicted?Lana Shadwick www.brietbart.comSeptember 3, 2014The recent indictments of Governor Rick Perry has brought attention to the criminal justice system in Texas. The question of who selects special prosecutors and grand jurors, and how a criminal case runs its course through the criminal judicial system, are all in the mind of the public. Tom Delay’s appeal was recently argued in the highest criminal court in Texas, but many voters are not acquainted with that court, or its candidates. More voters are now seeing the significance of their vote in these races where the constitutional issues of life, liberty, due process, and the death penalty are at stake.Phillip Hilder, a criminal defense lawyer who represented Sherron Watkins in the famous Enron whistleblower case, told Breitbart Texas “The Court of Criminal Appeals has perhaps the most direct impact on the criminal justice system in Texas, yet its members are virtually invisible to voters who elect them. The Judges are elected solely on party label. Other than the Court itself, one would be hard-pressed to find a single voter in the state who could name the full Court let alone anything about them. Voters must educate themselves, because the standard of criminal justice is just too important to blindly elect the Court.”Click For Full Story PDF
Lawyers: Perry’s Dismissal Arguments Strong, But Unlikely to SucceedAngela MorrisTexas LawyerAugust 27, 2014As the prosecutor and judge in Gov. Rick Perry’s case mull over the governor’s recent request to dismiss his indictment, analysis by three longtime criminal law attorneys reveals the most legal merit in one of Perry’s arguments to dismiss his coercion of a public servant charge.Texas Lawyer asked three attorneys with longtime criminal law experience to analyze Perry’s application for pretrial writ of habeas corpus and predict what the special prosecutor and judge might do next. All of the lawyers are former federal prosecutors who now represent white-collar criminal defendants and people or companies facing investigations.Texas Lawyer: After analyzing Perry’s filing, which argument has the most merit?PHILIP HILDERPhilip Hilder, principal, Hilder & Associates, Houston: Gov. Perry may be entitled to relief on a pretrial writ only if he shows that the trial court lacks jurisdiction, meaning that it does not have the power or authority to proceed. To do that, Gov. Perry must show the statutes under which he has been indicted are facially unconstitutional. … The strongest argument offered by the defense in this very preliminary proceeding is against count two of the indictment on the ground that the statute is overbroad. … [The veto] was an exercise of a constitutionally authorized political power. … Count one, while it will likely survive the writ action Gov. Perry filed, is also vulnerable to a motion to dismiss for failure to allege criminal conduct. … The strongest argument to dismiss count one attacks the drafting of the abuse allegation and whether the indictment sufficiently puts the defendant on notice as to the criminal violation.Texas Lawyer: If you were the prosecutor in this case, how would you respond to this filing?Hilder: If I were the special prosecutor and believed that any of the defense arguments were meritorious, I would consider filing a superseding indictment correcting the shortcomings. I anticipate that the prosecutor is comfortable with the constitutionality of the statutes and will stand firm in defending the writ challenge. Defending a motion to dismiss may be more challenging.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Texas Titans: A Look at the Texas Players in Perry CaseAngela MorrisTexas LawyerAugust 19, 2014Gov. Rick Perry’s fight against felony charges will be a battle of titans between two Texas lawyers with stellar reputations, arguing before one of the most well-respected visiting judges in the state.The advocates are special prosecutor Michael McCrum of San Antonio and criminal defense lawyer David Botsford of Austin. For now, they will argue before Senior Judge Bert Richardson of San Antonio, also the Republican candidate for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.Lawyers who know McCrum and Botsford say their work on Perry’s case will make for an interesting legal battle.Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor, said he served on a professional committee with McCrum, and he’s worked on federal criminal cases with Botsford.“They are both very methodical in their own ways, and I think both very clever attorneys,” said Hilder, principal in Hilder & Associates in Houston. “It will be interesting because they may collide head-on, but there will be a lot of strategy that goes behind each of their decisions. … It’s going to be an interesting game of chess to watch this case unfold.”Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
BNP Exec Exits FCA Bribery Suit Following $80M SettlementIgor KossovLaw 360August 15, 2015A Texas federal court on Friday dismissed a BNP Paribas SA manager accused of taking bribes from Mexican companies in violation of the False Claims Act after BNP settled with the government for $80 million. Jovenal “Jerry” Miranda Cruz was one of the execs who pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering in 2012. After the settlement last month, the government agreed to let Cruz leave the proceedings without prejudice, with both sides bearing their own legal costs. This ends Cruz’s civil case, while the criminal case against him is still pending.“We are relieved that this aspect of the case is over,” Cruz’s counsel Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC said in a phone call.Click for Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
Philip H. Hilder named First Chair of the American Bar Association White Collar Criminal Law Committee of the Criminal Justice SectionAugust 8, 2014 – Philip H. Hilder officially became the First Chair of the American Bar Association White Collar Criminal Law Committee of the Criminal Justice Section while at the ABA Annual meeting in Boston.
State v. Larry Ray SwearingenAugust 7, 2014 – On August 6, 2014, the Court in State v. Larry Ray Swearingen granted a Motion for Testing to determine if biological matter existed on evidence items. Mr. Swearingen, who is represented by Firm counsel James G. Rytting, had been convicted for the murder of Melissa Trotter in 1998. Mr. Swearingen maintains his innocence.
Regulator alleges Houston oil company misled investorsHouston ChronicleRhiannon MeyersAugust 4, 2014The Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday charged a Houston exploration and production company with misleading investors by exaggerating the extent of its oil reserves in Colombia and downplaying the risks.An SEC investigation found Houston American Energy Corp. and CEO John Terwilliger falsely claimed a Colombian oil concession in which the company held an interest contained 1 billion to 4 billion barrels of oil reserves.If found in violation of the Securities and Exchange Act, Houston American and Terwilliger face substantial fines and debarment – a prohibition from working in the industry, said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.Click For Full Story PDFClick For Full Story
New details in high-dollar closet heist in The WoodlandsClick2HoustonSyan RhodesAugust 4, 2014A high-dollar closet heist in The Woodlands is making national headlines. Three floors of shoes, jewels, clothes and furs were raided. In all about a million dollars in designer items were stolen.Speculation is rampant on social media as to how the heist went down. Montgomery County detectives have questions and experts say the victims’ insurance company will likely have questions of their own.Theresa Roemer says she didn’t set the alarm before she left her home in The Woodlands Friday night.The bold crime has many on the Local 2 Facebook page baffled, with hundreds weighing in, like Jody H., who wondered whether the Roemer’s insurance company would have to pay a claim if she admitted not setting her alarm.Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who works with insurance companies to investigate high-dollar claims, says there are many layers to the case.“The insurance company’s going to have to have a good reason not to pay otherwise they could get hit with a bad faith claim for denying policy without just cause,” said Hilder.Montgomery County detectives have not accused the Roemer’s of any wrongdoing. Hilder says as a matter of standard practice, insurance companies will ask their own questions.“The fraud investigators are going to make sure policy holder had nothing to do with the crime and that’s what their focus will be,” he said.Hilder says insurance investigators will look closely at the history of the security system usage and will want to know when the policy was taken and if all of the stolen items were on the policy.Click For Full Story PDF
Opponents say prolonged execution offers more evidence for challenge to lethal injectionFox NewsJuly 24, 2014APThe nation’s third botched execution in six months offers more evidence for the courts that lethal injection carries too many risks and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, death-row lawyers and other opponents said Thursday.Death-penalty opponents say the execution of an Arizona inmate who took two hours to die shows that state experiments with different drugs and dosages are a callous trial-and-error process. The result: Every few months, an inmate gasps, chokes and takes an unusually long time to die.James Rytting, a Houston lawyer who represents several condemned inmates in Texas, say he will cite the botched Arizona execution in appeals for inmates with executions pending.“These agonizing and horrifying situations are going to happen,” Rytting said.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Is This the Most Dangerous Man in Texas?Texas TribuneSkip HollandsworthJuly 10, 2014The Texas Tribune interviews University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall regarding the impeachment proceedings, President Powers, and favorable admission allegations. Philip Hilder represents the UT System to provide legal advice on Hall’s impeachment.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
High Court Ruling Bolsters Privacy Push By Consumers, ISPsLaw 360June 25, 2014Allison GrandeThe U.S. Supreme Court issued a resounding endorsement of digital privacy rights in its Wednesday decision restricting warrantless cellphone searches, using broad pro-privacy language that is likely to help plaintiffs targeting companies that seek to use their personal data without permission, as well as service providers fighting to limit government access to user data.In a unanimous decision authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court held that law enforcement officers must generally secure a warrant before conducting a search of the digital information on a cellphone seized from an individual who has been arrested.While the ruling put to rest the issue of the constitutionality of warrantless cellphone searches conducted at the time of arrest, attorneys noted that there are still a plenty of privacy issues left for the court to tackle.“This is likely to be the first in a series of court battles that will address these issues,” said former federal prosecutor Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates PC. “If you take the rationale that the information stored on phones is protected and needs a warrant, then that can be extended to apply to wider circumstances, which is likely to spark court challenges.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Supreme Court rules cops need warrants to search mobile devicesCW39News FixJune 25, 2014The Supreme Court ruled cops now must have a warrant before searching mobile devices.The argument essentially boiled down to whether cell phones are more similar to wallets or cars – which police can search without a warrant – or personal computers, which they generally cannot.Seems pretty easy to answer – and apparently the Supreme Court justices agreed, because the vote was a unanimous 9-0.So what does this mean for law enforcement?“There’s a buffer now, and it allows a judge to decide whether there’s probable cause to, in essence, search a cell phone,” Houston attorney Philip Hilder said. “It doesn’t allow the police to willy-nilly take a look at your phone.”Click for Full StoryClick for Full Story PDF
Volunteering for the VoteThe Houston LawyerTaunya PainterMay/June 2014Interview of Philip Hilder about his pro bono work on Presidential Campaigns.Click For Full Story PDF
Whistleblowers who call the SEC gain financial rewardsL.M. SixelHouston ChronicleJune 11, 2014By day, they’re mild-mannered accountants. Or human resource managers. Or shipping clerks. But to the government, they’re the eyes and ears of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.They’re known as “bounty hunters,” but the employees who turn their companies in for insider trading, cooking the books and other securities violations won’t appear on a reality television show. Their identity is kept secret.As part of the Dodd-Frank Act, the SEC launched a whistleblower program in which employees who report potential financial fraud that exceeds $1 million can recover 10 percent to 30 percent of the penalties. Contractors, vendors and others with direct knowledge of fraud can also participate in the program.One of the reasons companies are taking note is that with so much money at stake, employees will have an incentive to turn over information directly to the government rather than use in-house reporting channels, said Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor in Houston.Companies were required to set up internal reporting channels in the aftermath of the Enron collapse, said Hilder, whose own role in the debacle involved representing former Enron vice president Sherron Watkins, who went to then-chairman Ken Lay to report looming accounting problems.The internal reporting requirements were included in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.However, Hilder said, Sarbanes-Oxley does not provide a financial bounty for employees who come forward.With the new whistleblower incentives, he said, employees are likely to bypass the internal channels. That means company officials may never know about allegations of financial shenanigans until government investigators come calling and they won’t have an opportunity to correct the wrongdoing internally.They’ll lose control of the situation, said Hilder, who has filed complaints on behalf of several clients under the new Dodd-Frank program. Some of the complaints have already spawned investigations, while others are in more preliminary stages, he said. None have yet resulted in the payment of a bounty.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Costs and Questions as TX Implements New Discovery LawTerri LangfordThe Texas TribuneMay 29, 2014Prosecutors say the state’s new Michael Morton Act, a measure designed to prevent wrongful convictions by forcing district attorneys to be more transparent in criminal cases, is driving up evidence costs.Lawyers on both sides of the criminal courtroom say the Michael Morton Act – named after an Austin man who spent nearly 25 years wrongfully imprisoned for his wife’s murder – has raised awareness of the importance of sharing evidence. Prosecutors, however, are concerned about the cost to taxpayers of reproducing reams of information. And defense lawyers worry that some prosecutors could use the law to keep some evidence away from them.The new law requires Texas prosecutors to release all “exculpatory” evidence – information that could prove a defendant’s innocence – to defense attorneys. Defense attorney Philip Hilder, in Houston, said the new law works as a guide for prosecutors who may not be as “well-versed” about the Brady law and its obligations.“I do think this has been very positive legislation to even the playing field and to more readily assure that individuals get fair treatment before the courts,” said Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Updated: Regent Hall says he will not resign in letter to Chairman FosterThe Daily TexanMay 20, 2014In the letter, released on Tuesday by attorney Allan Van Fleet, Hall criticized Chairman Paul Foster’s handling of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations investigation and the decision to ask for his resignation.“The result is that you have used your position to participate in a campaign that is intended to impugn my reputation,” Hall said. “You have also allowed a small group of legislators to interfere in the Board’s official operations.”Citing letters sent to the transparency committee by System outside counsel Phillip Hilder and Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in early 2014, Hall said the committee has found no evidence of wrongdoing on his part.After Tuesday’s UT System Board of Regents meeting, Foster said he read the letter and will not pursue the issue any further.“I pledge to work closely with him, as I have in the past,” Foster said. “As far as I’m concerned, that’s history.”Click For Full Story PDF
Former DA investigator pleads guilty to theftHouston ChronicleBrian RogersMay 16, 2014The Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigator who stole thousands of dollars worth of vintage comic books that were evidence in an embezzlement case pleaded guilty Friday.Lonnie Blevins, 39, admitted in federal court that he took more than $5,000 worth of stolen goods that he sold at a comic book convention in Chicago.“It doesn’t seem plausible that he acted alone,” said Philip Hilder, an attorney for the company at the center of the case, Tadano America Corp. “It’s very unsettling to think that other public servants may have been involved and have not been charged.”Click For Full StoryClick For Full Story PDF
Lawyers navigate rising financial crime risks amid debate over regulation for ‘gatekeepers’Association of Federal Crime SpecialistsDaniela GuzmanMay14, 2014While serving a prison sentence, a convicted drug trafficker in Texas was able to transfer proceeds from his narcotics sales to an account accessed by his associates.In Nevada, a fraudster funneled $2.3 million through a holding company in order to purchase a currency exchange brokerage, eventually using it to run a $16 million investment fraud scheme.In Florida, a fraudulent non-profit organization was created solely for the purpose of duping Medicaid and Social Security recipients, stealing $2.8 million.All three are examples of money laundering cases prosecuted in the US over the past year, but they also share something else in common. In each, attorneys were the ones who set up accounts, handled funds and established the legal entities involved, making legal professionals the linchpins of laundering schemes.In place of regulation, the ABA advocates for voluntary compliance standards. The non-binding standards share many points with FATF recommendations, advising attorneys on a risk-based approach to customer due diligence (CDD), client intake, and ongoing evaluation of client transactions and relationships.Criminal defense attorney Philip Hilder is co-chair of the ABA section of Criminal Justice’s White Collar Crime Committee and practices law in Houston, Texas. As part of the committee, he serves as an expert on how financial crime intersects with the legal profession.“There are no procedures or written guidelines that an attorney must follow in vetting their clients. It’s up to the attorney to conduct their own due diligence that they see fit,” Hilder said.“It’s incumbent upon the lawyer to make inquiries and to do due diligence to determine that the [client’s] source of funds are legitimate,” he adds.Click For Full Story PDF Click For Full Story
Political Revenge in TexasWall Street JournalMay 11, 2014On Monday a special committee of the state house will begin debating whether to recommend impeaching Mr. Hall as a UT regent for such grave misdeeds as asking the university to produce too many documents. Mr. Hall’s real offense has been to expose a cozy and possibly corrupt relationship between politicians and the university.At UT the regents are responsible for university governance and have a fiduciary duty to taxpayers. Mr. Hall was learning his responsibilities when he came across information showing that some professors received forgivable loans from a law school foundation fund not affiliated with the school.Within weeks Mr. Hall became the target of a political campaign to impeach him as a regent. In June 2013 lawmakers directed a “transparency” committee to look into whether Mr. Hall had “abused” his authority.The committee also claimed Mr. Hall illegally disclosed confidential student information in conversations with a lawyer. But this charge was contradicted by the university’s own independent counsel, Philip Hilder, who wrote to lawmakers in January that Mr. Hall’s possession of confidential student information “had a legitimate educational purpose” and that he could find “no credible evidence of a violation of [the law] or of any other state or federal law.”Click For Full Story Click For Full Story PDF
Former In-House Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Theft, Gets 40-Year Prison SentenceBrenda Sapino JeffreysTexas LawyerMay 7, 2014Anthony Chiofalo, a former in-house lawyer in Houston charged with stealing $9.3 million from his company, received a 40-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to felony theft. The disbarred lawyer passed up a chance to get less jail time.On May 5, Chiofalo pleaded guilty to a first-degree felony charge of theft of $200,000 or more, and visiting Judge James Anderson sentenced him to 40 years in prison.The Chiofalos had been charged after Philip Hilder, a lawyer for Anthony Chiofalo’s former employer, Tadano America Corp. (TAC), provided documents to the D.A.’s office. Hilder said that TAC asked him to investigate after an “uncharacteristic spike in litigation” and the company became suspicious.Hilder, of Hilder & Associates in Houston, said Chiofalo’s 40-year sentence is “stiff but appropriate.”“Mr. Chiofalo betrayed. He was general counsel for the company and betrayed the trust of the company and stole quite a bit of money, and, so, under those circumstances, I think the sentence is appropriate,” Hilder said.Hilder said Tadano has recovered more than $5 million.Click For Full StoryClick For PDF
Former Tadano Counsel Gets 40 Years for Embezzling $9MJeremy HeallenLaw 360May 7, 2014A former general counsel for Japanese crane manufacturer Tadano America Corp. was slammed with a 40-year prison sentence in Texas court on Monday after confessing that he stole more than $9 million from his former employer to help finance his rare comic book collection.Anthony Chiofalo, 52, pled guilty in Texas District Court in Harris County to embezzling millions from Houston-based Tadano using an elaborate fraudulent billing scheme and spending the cash on high-end sports memorabilia and comic books. Following his plea, Chiofalo was immediately sentencedPhilip Hilder, who represents Tadano, said his client was satisfied with the sentence.“It was an appropriate disposition that Mr. Chiofalo got 40 years,” he said. “He breached the trust of the company and stole a considerable amount of money.”Hilder said that Tadano has recovered about $5 million in cash and assets from Chiofalo and is “ready to move on.” The company is still awaiting resolution of federal charges against a former investigator for the Harris County district attorney’s office who allegedly stole and attempted to sell several of the comic books following Chiofalo’s arrest, according to Hilder.Click For Full StoryClick For PDF
Regulation of Bitcoin Is Up for GrabsJenna GreeneThe National Law JournalApril 7, 2014 Following a series of multimillion-dollar thefts and losses, federal regulators want to step up their oversight of virtual currency bitcoin. But bitcoin – a nationless digital money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions – doesn’t fit neatly in any regulatory box.“There’s an incredible interest in regulating this at the federal level,” said Kenneth Russak, a commercial-finance specialist at Frandzel Robins Bloom & Csato.Potential overseers include the Federal Trade Commission, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. All are charged with protecting consumers or investors from fraud, but their jurisdiction over bitcoin transactions is unclear.Click For Full Story
Madoff Aide Verdict A Reminder To Fess Up EarlyStephanie Russell-KraftLaw 360March 25, 2014The resounding conviction Monday of five former Bernie Madoff associates over their role in perpetuating the $65 billion Ponzi scheme sent a clear message that financial fraud enablers face a steep uphill battle in court, but attorneys say it also highlighted the need to get them to come forward early on.In light of these circumstances, employees who may be aware of criminal activities within their organization are better off reporting them than remaining silent, even if they aren’t directly implicated in the fraud, according to Philip Hilder, partner at Hilder & Associates PCand a former assistant U.S. Attorney.Click For Full Story
Fed Up With Government, Environmentalists Sue CompaniesNeena SatijaTexas Tribune and The New York TimesFebruary 23, 2014Environmental groups in Texas have taken matters into their own hands, suing industries for excess pollution directly, rather than relying on the government to take action. Hilder & Associates, P.C. is local counsel for the Sierra Club and Environment Texas who are currently suing Exxon Mobile in court for emitting excess pollution. While the vast majority of citizen groups reach a settlement before reaching the trial, that is not the case with this matter.In recent years, Chevron Phillips and Shell have agreed to settle, rather than go to trial, after environmental groups in Texas filed citizen suits against them for pollution violations. Hilder & Associates, P.C. served as local counsel in both of these cases.Click For Full Story
Witness: Exxon Mobil’s air quality among bestKen FountainBaytown SunFebruary 19, 2014Two women who spent much of their lives in Baytown but have both since moved testified about how they believe pollutants from the ExxonMobil Baytown complex harmed either their health or quality of life to open the second week of a Clean Air Act “citizens suit” brought by environmental groups against the company.Sharon Sprayberry, a retired naval officer and onetime director of instructional technology at the Goose Creek CISD testified the asthma she suffered from as a child growing up in Baytown diminished after she went away to college at Baylor University in Waco.Her asthma didn’t resume until she spent the last years of her naval career at a base in Corpus Christi where, like Baytown, several refineries and petrochemical plants are located.Asked by William Graham, one of the attorneys representing Environment Texas and the Sierra Club in the lawsuit, what she attributed her worsening symptoms to, Sprayberry was direct.“The quality of the air. It was not good,” she said. Often the air had a “chemical smell,” and a smoggy haze would often hang over the ExxonMobil complex, said Sprayberry.When she returned to Baytown to a job with the school district, Sprayberry testified, she felt her symptoms almost immediately become worse.Click For Full Story
Environmentalists to take aim at Exxon in courtMatthew TresaugueHouston ChronicleFebruary 7, 2014Environmentalists are heading to federal court in Houston to force Exxon Mobil Corp. to reduce air pollution at the nation’s largest petroleum and petrochemical complex – something they say the government hasn’t done.Frustrated with the regulatory response to Clean Air Act violations at the Baytown complex, Environment Texas and the Sierra Club will urge the court to intervene by ordering the Irving-based oil giant to comply with its permits and issuing stiff penalties.Sierra Club and Environment Texas are represented locally by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C.Click For Full Story
Court rejects death row inmate’s bid for DNA testsMike GlennFebruary 5, 2014The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday reversed a lower court’s decision allowing further DNA testing that supporters of death row inmate Larry Swearingen say could clear him in the 1998 slaying of a Montgomery County college student.In their decision, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said Swearingen hasn’t shown whether additional biological material to be tested even exists or that the results could change the outcome of the case.Houston attorney James Rytting said the appellate court’s latest decision was not based on evidence linking his client to the crime.Click For Full Story
ABA Section of Labor and Employment Law Midwinter MeetingMarch 18-22, 2014Los Cabos, MexicoPhilip H. Hilder will be presenting on “Handling Whistleblower Claims: New Opportunities Create More Complex and Emerging Issues for Employment Lawyer”Click Here for Brochure
Court Reverses DNA Testing Decision in Swearingen CaseBrandi Grissom and Edgar WaltersTexas TribuneFebruary 5, 2014The state’s highest criminal court on Wednesday unanimously reversed a lower court’s decision to allow further DNA testing in the case of death row inmate Larry Swearingen, sending his case back to a district court for further proceedings. Swearingen is a client of Hilder & Associates, P.C. His lead counsel is James Rytting.Swearingen was sentenced to death in 2000 after he was convicted of kidnapping, raping and killing 19-year-old Melissa Trotter in Montgomery County. James Rytting states that DNA testing on evidence found near Trotter’s body could prove his innocence.Mr. Rytting said he would revisit the present motion for further DNA testing now that the case is before the district court once again.
Madoff Ex-Aides Seen Facing Hurdle With ‘Duped’ DefenseFebruary 4, 2014Bloomberg NewsErik Larson Five former aides to Bernard Madoff are seen as facing tough odds in trying to convince a jury they were innocent bystanders to the con man’s $17 billion fraud, given what one lawyer called the “avalanche” of evidence presented by prosecutors.After months of testimony by Madoff accomplices, industry experts and former clerical staff, the three men and two women on trial since October will begin presenting their defense cases as soon as today in Manhattan federal court. The defendants have pleaded not guilty and claim Madoff duped them.Changing the narrative after such a long prosecution will be a “daunting task,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor in Houston who’s now a white-collar defense lawyer and isn’t working on the case. “The ‘duped’ defense works only if someone was involved on the fringes.”Click For Full Story
Lawyer for UT System defends regent’s handling of recordsDecember 15, 2014statesman.comRalph K.M. HaurwitzThere is “no credible evidence” that a University of Texas System regent violated state or federal laws by sharing potentially protected information about a student with the regent’s lawyer, according to a report by the system’s outside counsel.The report by Philip Hilder seeks to clear Regent Wallace Hall Jr. of any suggestion that he might have committed a crime or otherwise violated a law. Hilder represents the UT System in connection with a legislative investigation into whether Hall overstepped his authority in handling records and in other actions as a regent.
Report: Regent Didn’t Violate Student Privacy LawsDecember 16, 2014Texas TribuneReeve HamiltonAfter reviewing University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall’s handling of information that may be confidential under federal student privacy laws, outside lawyers for the system have concluded that there was “no credible evidence of a violation of [the state government code] that would warrant a referral for criminal prosecution.”Philip Hilder, an outside attorney whose firm — Hilder & Associates — was hired by the system to assist them during the committee’s investigation, reviewed the matter and submitted a report on Monday. Hilder concluded that Hall, as a system official looking into alleged favoritism in the university’s admissions processes, had a legitimate reason for having the document in question.Click For Full Story
U.T. System Seeks A.G. Opinion on PrivilegesDecember 2, 2013Texas LawyerAngela MorrisThe 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 percentNovember 23, 2013The Journal FriendswoodSierra 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 occurrencesSierra Club and Environment Texas are represented locally by Philip H. Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C.Click For Full Story
Halliburton case could set new precedent for shareholder lawsuitsNovember 19, 2013Houston Business JournalDeon DaughteryThe 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.”Click For Full Story
UT Wants Attorney General’s Opinion, Can House Committee Punish for Contempt?November 14, 2013David BarerDallas NewsUniversity 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.Click For Full Story
Committee Recalls Subpoena for UT Regent HallNovember 12, 2013Texas TribuneReeve HamiltonA 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.”Click For Full Story
Firm Client Antoine Dental Center Prevails at TrialNovember 5, 2013On 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.Click for Court OpinionClick for Texas Tribune Article
Court Orders New Mental Competency Hearing in Death Penalty CaseOctober 30, 2013Texas TribuneBrandi GrissomThe 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.Click For Full Story
Ex-Madoff Workers Seen Choosing Bets On Freedom Over Plea DealsOctober 15, 2013Bloomberg Businessweek Erik LarsonFive 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.”
Focus on video testimony as Cuban case winds downOctober 14, 2013Houston ChronicleDavid KoeningThe 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.”
Anderson To Fill Late Husband’s Role As Harris County DASeptember 26, 2013Law 360Jeremy HeallenFormer 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.”Click For Full Story
To Assist in Probe, UT System Hires Outside CounselSeptember 11, 2013Texas TribuneThe 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.Click For Full Story
Eighth Annual National Institute on Securities FraudSeptember 9, 2013Philip 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.Click for Brochure
Texas Enacts Additional Laws to Address Medicaid Fraud, Waste and AbuseSeptember 10, 2013Article 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.Click for Lawyer Monthly PDF Version
Philip Hilder named a Top AttorneySeptember 10, 2013Philip H. Hilder was named by the publishers of Texas Super Lawyers as one of the State’s Top Attorneys in 2013
Enron’s Skilling gets more than 10 years cut off sentenceHouston ChronicleJune 21, 2013Mike TolsonThe 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.”Click for Full Story
Former Enron CEO’s jail time cutHouston Business Journal June 21, 2013Deon DaughertyFormer 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.Click For Full Story
Skilling sentence reduction appearance on Fox News 26June 21, 2013Philip H. Hilder, attorney for Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, appeared on Fox 26 News to discuss the possible sentence reduction of Jeff Skilling.Click For Video
Enron: The real story behind Jeff Skilling’s big sentence reductionCNN MoneyMay 15, 2013By Peter Elkind, editor-at-largeLast 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.”Click For Full Story
Court Rejects Exxon Bid to Dismiss Citizen Enforcement SuitMay 3, 2013A 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 ExxonMobilHouston Chronicle May 3, 2013A 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.
Possible Deal Could Cut Ex-Enron CEO’s SentenceThe Associated PressApril 4, 2013A 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
Deal could cut prison time for Enron’s SkillingHouston ChronicleApril 5, 2013Attorneys for former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and the Department of Justice are 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.Click For Full Story
Exxon Says Enviros Can’t Sue It Over Refinery EmissionsLaw360April 3, 2013n 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.Click For Full Story
Justice Department discussing possible deal that could reduce ex-Enron CEO Skilling’s sentenceWall Street JournalApril 4, 2013A 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.”Click For Full Story
Japan Federation of Bar Associations and the Osaka Bar AssociationOn 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 firedYahoo, The LookoutJason SicklesMarch 6, 2013Gun 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 1536Blurred 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.”
Death Row Prisoner Larry Swearingen May Be Innocent. Do Texas Courts Care?The NationFebruary 20, 2013Jordan SmithThe 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.dpufClick for Full Story
Legal costs mount in HISD bribery lawsuitHouston ChronicleFebruary 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.”
DA freezes 125 cases in wake of investigators’ arrest, probeHouston ChronicleBrian RogersFebruary 13, 2013The 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.Click For Full Story
I-Team questions lead to FBI internal investigationJeremy Rogalski / I-Teamkhou 11February 11, 2013The 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.
Justice Department, states weigh action against Moody’sReutersAruna Viswanatha and Luciana LopezFebruary 7, 2013The 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.”
SEC Settles Insider Trading Case With Houston ManBloombergFebruary 6, 2013Karen GulloOn 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.Click For Full Story
Former Harris Co. investigator accused of stealing valuable comic booksHouston ChronicleFebruary 5, 2013Brian RogersA 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.”Click For Full Story
Death Row Inmate Larry Swearingen’s Execution StayedFirm client Larry Swearingen received a stay of execution January 30, 2013 signed by Montgomery County 9 th District Judge Kelly Case. Mr. Swearingen is represented by James Rytting and Philip Hilder.Click for Order
Death Row Inmate Larry Swearingen’s Execution StayedThe Texas TribuneBrandi GrissomJanuary 30, 2013A 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.Click For Full Story
Test the DNA-Will Texas put an innocent man to death?Houston ChronicleJanuary 30, 2013The 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. Click for Opinion Piece
Montgomery Co. DA approves death-row inmate’s request for more DNA testingabc newsJanuary 25, 2013DNA 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.Click For Full Story
Public officials, public business and croniesJanuary 25, 2013Houston ChroniclePhilip 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.”Click For Full Story
Attorneys for condemned man seek DNA testing in Montgomery County caseHouston ChronicleErin MulvaneyJanuary 17, 2013Lawyers, 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.Click For Full Story
Former in-house attorney faces up to life in prison if convicted of $9M theftDaily ReportBrenda Sapino JeffreysAnthony 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.Click for Full Story
Judge denies bond for former in-house lawyer charged with stealing more than $9.3 millionJanuary 7, 2013Texas Lawyer BlogA 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.
Fugitive in $9M theft case had high-priced collectiblesJanuary 7, 2013Houston ChronicleBrian RogersWhen 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.”Click For Full Story
Attorney accused of $9 million theft from Houston company faces judgeabc 13Erik BarajasA 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.Click for Video
Suspect in $9 million theft from Houston company turns himself inabc 13Jessica WilleyInvestigators 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.”Click For Video
Houston lawyer accused of embezzling $9 million arrested in Rhode IslandHouston ChronicleBrian Rogers January 3, 2013A 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.”Click For Full Story
HISD trustee got cut of contracts awarded to associate, records showNovember 4, 2012Ericka MellonHISD trustee Larry Marshall voted repeatedly to award taxpayer-funded contracts to companies that hired his longtime business associate – who gave him a cut of her earnings, according to court records, deposition testimony and interviews.“Being a public servant has certain duties and responsibilities,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor and white-collar criminal defense attorney. “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.”Click For Full Story
Firm LuncheonOctober 19, 2012The Firm hosted a luncheon for four current and former Congressman. Pictured from left, Nick Lampson (Fr. D-TX); Steve Israel (D-NY); Al Green (D-TX); and Henry Cuellar (D-TX).
Appeals Court Throws Out Stay of Execution in Texas CaseWall Street JournalOctober 10, 2012Chad BrayA federal appeals court has thrown out the stay of execution of a Texas inmate who claimed he was mentally retarded and incompetent to be put to death.Jonathan Marcus Green was convicted in July 2002 of capital murder in the death of a 12-year-old girl in Texas. A Texas appeals court upheld his sentence and a state court found him in 2010 to be competent to be put to death despite his claims of being mentally retarded.Earlier this month, a federal district court in Texas halted his execution, finding the state court violated his due process rights in part by preventing him from calling mental health professionals from the Texas prisons to testify about records submitted in the competency hearing.The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit disagreed in an order issued Tuesday, saying Mr. Green testified at the hearing, was provided counsel, was able to call his own expert witness and submitted more than 200 pages of medical records.Philip Hilder, Mr. Green’s lawyer, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay of his execution.“The Court of Appeals has clearly overextended its authority and jurisdiction by treating the district court’s decision to stay the execution as a decision on the merits,” Mr. Hilder said in court papers.Mr. Hilder said the appeals court “illegitimately reclassified” the issue before it and “erroneously treated” the district court order as a final disposition in his case.“The distortion of proper procedures resulted in an incoherent order that underscored the need for a stay, so that Mr. Green’s claim can be considered through established federal habeas corpus proceedings.”Click For Full Story
Texas man gets stay 2 days before executionNancy FlakeHouston Community PapersOctober 9, 2012Two days before his scheduled execution, a Montgomery man on Texas’ Death Row for the 2000 abduction, rape and strangulation murder of a 12-year-old Dobbin girl received a stay because he wasn’t given due process to prove he is mentally incompetent for execution, a federal judge ruled Monday.Judge Nancy Atlas, in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that Jonathan Marcus Green, 44, who was convicted in 2002 for the murder of Christina LeAnn Neal, did not receive a fair opportunity to demonstrate that he is incompetent, “and thus the State of Texas denied him due process.”Green is schizophrenic and “is not malingering,” said his appellate attorney, James Rytting.“He is mentally ill … and he’s only gotten worse after being stuck in administrative segregation,” Rytting said
Stay of Execution GrantedOctober 8, 2012Stay of Execution granted for Firm client, Jonathan Marcus Green. The Federal Court concluded that Mr. Green was denied due process by using incorrect legal standards. The Court went on that the State Court engaged in an unreasonable application and that Mr. Green is entitled to a stay of execution. James Rytting of t he Firm is the lead attorney on the case.Click for Houston Chronicle articleClick for Opinion
Stay Sought for young girl’s killerHouston ChronicleMike TolsonOctober 8, 2012A mentally ill inmate is set to die Wednesday for the abduction, rape and murder of a Montgomery County girl, whose body was buried in his yard. Jonathan Green came close to execution in 2010 but received a last minute stay so that appeals courts could evaluate his mental condition and determine whether he is competent to be executed. Green suffers from schizophrenia and his attorney claims her is borderline mentally retarded. Green’s attorney, James Rytting, is hopeful of getting another stay. He claims his client has deteriorated further over the past two years.Click For Full Story
Philip Hilder chosen for the cover of the Super Lawyers section of Texas Super Lawyers 2012Paul SweeneyThe Whistle Blowers AdvocateTexas Super Lawyers 2012The Whistleblowers’ Advocate
Man’s honest act after wild Los Angeles bank robberyJason SicklesThe Lookout, A Yahoo News Blog September 13, 2012Scores of Los Angeles residents scrambled Wednesday to stuff their pockets with cash being tossed into the streets by bank robbers on the run. But out of the chaos emerged Sal Reyes.“You have to give it back,” Reyes told KNBC-TV.At first, Reyes said, he didn’t know what was going on as the suspects’ getaway car and police cruisers zipped through his neighborhood.“There were mothers leaving their kids and they were just grabbing the money, and there was just money in the air,” he said. “It was just everywhere.”Reyes scooped up bills, too, but took an undisclosed amount to a police station once he learned it had been stolen from a Bank of America. “You can’t just go spend money that’s not yours,” he told the TV station. Many others didn’t adopt his golden rule.“The money was not heaven-sent,” said Philip Hilder, a veteran Texas attorney. “The fact that they didn’t originally take the money is of no consequence if they knew the money had been stolen. Anybody who keeps the cash is going to be buying themselves a lot of unwanted trouble.”Police say they are reviewing video from news coverage to help them locate the greedy grabbers.Click For Full Story
Deputy constables allege retaliation following Abercia indictmentHouston Chronicle Anita HassanAugust 23, 2012Two Harris County Precinct 1 deputies are suing Constable Kenneth Berry, accusing him of retaliation and harassment following a report the pair made to federal authorities that to led the indictment of former constable Jack Abercia.According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday against Berry and Harris County, Precinct 1 Deputy Constable Mark Harrison and Sgt. Kevin Williams say they were both reassigned, demoted and harassed because they told the FBI about information implicating Abercia and two senior Precinct 1 officers in a bribery scheme and unauthorized use of a computer at the office.“It was very obvious that there was a pattern and practice of retaliation against these two officers in Constable Berry’s office for providing information to federal (law) enforcement authorities,” said their attorney, Philip Hilder, who once represented Enron whistle blower Sherron Watkins.Click For Full Story
Whistleblowing Precinct One Constables Allege Retaliation in Aftermath of Jack Abercia IndictmentHouston PressJohn Nova LomaxAugust 23, 2012Two Precinct One Harris County Constables have filed suit against Harris County and their immediate supervisor, Constable Kenneth Berry, successor to indicted former chief Jack Abercia.In both of the suits filed yesterday, plaintiffs Sergeant Kevin Williams (formerly of the Civil Division) and Mark Harrison (formerly an Internal Affairs investigator) claim that they have been demoted, reassigned and otherwise harassed after they went to the FBI with information implicating Abercia and two staffers in a bribery/unauthorized use of police information scheme.Lead counsel for both plaintiffs is Phillip Hilder, best-known for his representation of perhaps the city’s most renowned whistleblower ever — Sherron Watkins of Enron fame. Both suits allege unlawful discrimination and retaliation and seek injunctive and equitable relief, job reinstatement, future pecuniary losses, damages for emotional pain and suffering, actual and exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and court costs.
Clemens Acquittal Betrays DOJ’s Leadership Woes, Attys Saylaw360June 20, 2012Ian ThomasWith Monday’s acquittal of Roger Clemens, the U.S. Department of Justice suffered another glaring defeat in a high-profile and highly questioned case against a celebrity, exposing the department’s lack of leadership when it comes to picking prosecutions, experts say.After deliberating for less than 11 hours, a federal jury found the former Major League Baseball pitcher not guilty of lying to Congress about his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs. The verdict came less than a week after the DOJ dropped its controversial prosecution of two-time presidential candidate John Edwards for campaign finance violations tied to an affair he had during his 2008 run for the White House.The Clemens and Edwards cases were both doubted from their beginnings and now stand out as two black eyes for a Justice Department already reeling from its botched prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens and its mishandling of the infamous “Fast and Furious” gun-walking investigation, attorneys said.“They showed very poor judgment,” said Philip H. Hilder, a Houston-based defense attorney and former Justice Department prosecutor. “DOJ needs to properly evaluate these cases before they bring them, especially when dealing with a high-profile figure like a John Edwards, like a Clemens. These trials have a huge toll – not just financially, but emotionally.”Click For Full Story
Father won’t face charges for killing daughter’s attackerAPPaul J. Weber and Ramit Plushnick-Mastistatesman.comA young father who beat to death with his fists a man molesting his 5-year-old daughter won’t be charged, authorities said Tuesday as they released a dramatic 911 tape of the dad frantically pleading for help before the hired ranch helper died.A Lavaca County grand jury Tuesday declined to indict the 23-year-old father in the death of Jesus Mora Flores, 47. Prosecutors said the grand jury reached the same conclusion as police after reviewing the evidence: The father was allowed to use deadly force to protect his daughter.Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said he would have been surprised if the grand jury had indicted the father. Hilder said Texas law provides several justifications for the use of deadly force, including if someone is committing a sexual assault.“The grand jury was not about to indict this father for protecting his daughter,” he said.Click For Full Story
Twisted murder-for-hire case takes another turnclick2houstonJune 12, 2012Phil ArcherA twisted murder-for-hire case has taken yet another turn.Michelle Gaiser has admitted to hiring hit-men to kill Yvonne Stern, the wife of Jeffery Stern. Gaiser and Jeffrey Stern had an affair.Three attempts were made on Yvonne Stern’s life. She was shot in the abdomen during one of those attempts in May 2010.Gaiser has taken a plea deal for her solicitation of capital murder charge. Part of that plea includes testifying against Jeffrey Stern, who has also been accused of solicitation of capital murder. He is scheduled to go to trial on the charge on July 27.Jeffrey Stern has denied any involvement in the plot. Yvonne Stern is standing by him.According to Paul Nugent, Jeffrey Stern’s defense attorney, Gaiser does want to testify. Nugent said Gaiser wrote a note to another jail inmate, offering $20,000 for the death of Jeffrey Stern.Nugent read part of alleged note at a news conference on the couple’s front lawn on Tuesday.“It needs to look like he got robbed. If you plan on making him disappear, he cannot be found because they’ll think it’s a hit,” Nugent said the note read. “Whatever you do, it must not look like a hit. It’s going to be accidental death. Obviously, even a close-range shot didn’t get rid of the wife.”Some attorneys said that the letter is a game-changer in Jeffrey Stern’s case.“The fact the prosecution witness wrote this doesn’t necessarily mean this case is dead in the water,” said Phil Hilder, another Houston attorney. “The prosecution and the judge are going to have to judge the credibility of this communication.
Husband, wife face $18 million bond each for allegedly stealing money from his employerabc newsJune 12, 2012The grand total is staggering — more than $9 million gone from a local company, and police are trying to find the former employee accused of ripping them off.Perhaps just as shocking as the large amount of money missing is how prosecutors say much of it was spent on comic books and collectibles.Anthony Chiofalo used to work at Tadano America, a company with offices in Houston and manufactures and sells hydraulic cranes worldwide, until he was fired for allegedly stealing millions. Now he’s on the run and prosecutors want him caught.Since January 2009, Chiofalo worked as the head of legal affairs at Tadano America. It was his job to contract with outside firms for legal services. But according to court documents, he allegedly set up a bogus law firm, “Maio and Cardenas.Tadano America says he made a series of checks payable from TAC to that fictitious law firm for an amount of $9,329,546.81 in total, and that the money was deposited into an Amegy Bank account owned by Chiofalo.Investigators say he was paid for work that never was done.Tadano America is represented by Hilder & Associates, P.C.Click For Full Story
Spring company accuses former board member of stealing $8 millionGlenna HeraldUltimate SpringJune 12, 2012A Spring company is suing over claims one of its board members schemed to steal $8 million from it.Tadano America in Spring filed a lawsuit on Friday, June 8 in the Harris County District Court against Anthony Chiofalo, citing Texas Theft Liability Act, conversion, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.Tadano America says in May, an investigation into excessive legal bills revealed that its general counsel and board member Chiofalo allegedly created fictitious law firms to raid company coffers. He used company funds to pay these nonexistent law firms more than $8 million, according to the brief.The suit also alleges Chiofalo failed to inform his employer that New York suspended his attorney’s license in 2010.Tadano is seeking injunctive relief, attorney’s fees, damages and court costs. It is being represented in the case by Houston attorney Philip Hilder.Click For Full Story
Lawyer charged with theft in fraudulent billing caseHouston ChronicleMike TolsonJune 12, 2012Approaching 50 and fleeing a messy divorce that had gotten him in hot water with the New York bar association, Anthony Chiofalo decided to start anew in Texas. He got an in-house job with a Japanese manufacturer in Houston at an annual salary of $110,000 – not great money for a lawyer but enough for a comfortable life in a place where the cost of living was much less.But Chiofalo apparently did not want a modest home in the suburbs. He and his new wife, Susan, decided something swankier was in order. And to pay for it he decided to supplement his salary with an alleged scheme to rip off his employer to the tune of $9 million. Or $9,329,546, to be exact.That is the sum that local prosecutors claim Chiofalo got the Tadano America Corporation to pay fictitious law firms for work that was never done. The bogus firms amounted to little more than some stationery, a phony spreadsheet, and a rented mail box. And the bank account where all the checks ended up was one that only he controlled, according to charging documents filed by the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.Authorities are looking for Anthony Chiofalo, now 51, after charging him with felony theft last week. Susan Chiofalo, 50, was arrested on similar charges and released from Harris County Jail after posting bail on $100,000 bond. She could not be reached for comment on Monday.Their dream home, the one they were renovating at Tadano’s expense, is now part of a legal recovery action by the company, along with almost $2 million worth of artwork and collectables that might have been used to decorate the home.“We’re cautiously optimistic that we will be able to recover a fair amount of the assets,” said Phil Hilder, a lawyer hired by Tadano to investigate Chiofalo and get as much money back as possible. “We have moved quickly.”As did Chiofalo, who according to a civil lawsuit filed Friday, first tested his scheme in November 2010. That’s when he got Tadano to pay $25,000 as a retainer with a law firm he had invented. Using phony invoices from that and other fake firms, Chiofalo repeatedly upped the ante with a series of bills ranging from $20,000 to $1.3 million.‘He was trusted’Chiofalo was hired by Tadano in 2009 as its general counsel, and part of his job was to oversee litigation involving the company. But the lawsuits that supposedly generated the huge legal bills either did not exist or were exaggerated as part of his scheme, Hilder said.Had he not been greedy, Chiofalo might have been able to perpetuate the scheme for much longer.“He was the company’s chief legal officer and he was trusted,” Hilder said. “The company relied on his representation regarding the litigation. Then they began to question the extent of the litigation. It had not been so extensive in the past. And that raised a red flag.”Click For Full Story
Stanford seeks new trial based on publicity, prep timeHouston ChronicleTerri LangfordMarch 21, 2012A lack of sufficient prep time, excessive pre-trial publicity – and even Twitter – all contributed to an unfair guilty verdict against R. Allen Stanford, attorneys for the convicted con man claim in their request for a new trial filed this week.“The Houston community was saturated with publicity prejudicial to Stanford,” defense attorney Ali Fazel wrote in his 71-page request to U.S. District Judge David Hittner, the trial judge in the fraud case.Stanford, who turns 62 on Saturday, was convicted March 6 on 13 of 14 counts that accused him of orchestrating a $7 billion investment fraud through his bank in the Caribbean nation of Antigua.Sentencing is set for June 14, and Stanford could spend the rest of his life in prison.The motion alleges that defense lawyers did not have adequate time to prepare for the trial after Stanford returned from nine months in a North Carolina prison hospital, where he was treated for addiction to medications prescribed when he was injured in a jailhouse fight.Houston attorney Philip Hilder said for such a motion to be successful, Stanford’s defense team would have to prove that the information actually made it to a juror.“There’s no difference between a reporter tweeting or in the old days going to a pay phone and transmitting the information,” Hilder said. “It’s just more real time and keeping up with realities of today’s fast moving electronic age.”Click For Full Story
Jurors: Evidence Overwhelming in Stanford TrialJuan A. LozanoAPMarch 10, 2012Jurors who convicted the financier on fraud-related charges for bilking investors out of more than $7 billion after a seven-week trial took to heart the words of prosecutor Gregg Costa. During his closing arguments he said Stanford “wasn’t a rich person. He was a thief.”Defense attorneys portrayed Stanford as a visionary entrepreneur who made money for investors and conducted legitimate business deals. They accused the prosecution’s star witness – James M. Davis, the former chief financial officer for Stanford’s various companies – of being behind the fraud and tried to discredit him by calling him a liar and tax cheat.Jurors David Wright and alternate juror Bruce Forrest said they found Davis credible and his testimony compelling.“Jim Davis was most compelling. We believed him,” said Forrest, 47, who runs an optical business.Over more than four days of testimony, Davis detailed how he and Stanford faked the bank’s profits and fabricated documents to hide the fraud.Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor who followed the trial, said Davis’ testimony was key to Stanford’s conviction.“His testimony was a killer,” he said.
Allen Stanford jury says unable to reach verdictReuters, The Economic TimesMarch 6, 2012The jury weighing evidence against Allen Stanford said on Monday it was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of the former Texas financier.Stanford, on trial in federal court in Houston, is accused of running a $7.1 billion Ponzi scheme.After the jurors sent a note saying they were unable to reach a verdict, U.S. District Judge David Hittner called them into the courtroom and instructed them to keep deliberating, saying the trial had been costly in time and money. “I’m going to ask that you continue your deliberations,” he said.The jury started deliberating last Wednesday and has worked for more than 20 hours.It was not clear whether jurors had failed to reach a verdict on any of the 14 counts against Stanford, or whether they had failed to do so on just some of the counts. Failure to agree on all counts could result in a mistrial.Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who has been following the trial, said it was not unusual for a jury to be deadlocked initially in a complex trial such as this one.If they remain deadlocked, it could turn into a hung jury, but the more common outcome is that the jury comes up with a unanimous decision, said Hilder, a white-collar defense attorney in Houston.
Gen Re, AIG case gets a retrialBill KenealyBusiness InsuranceMarch 4, 2012Former executives of General Reinsurance Corp. and American International Group Inc., whose convictions in a sham finite reinsurance deal were overturned, have a stronger hand going into a retrial scheduled for next year, experts say.Philip Hilder, an attorney at Hilder & Associates P.C., a Houston law firm representing corporate defendants, said that while he does not expect the government to follow the same playbook as the first trial, prosecutors are limited to the evidence that was introduced in the first trial.“The government case can’t vary too much,” Mr. Hilder said. “A retrial is a distinct advantage to the defense because they’ve already seen the weaknesses in the (prosecution’s) case.”Another potential disadvantage for the prosecution is that defense attorneys can exploit the fading memories of witnesses to undermine their credibility, which Mr. Hilder said makes the outcome of a retrial uncertain.Click For Full Story
Condemned killer Swearingen back in courtRenee C. LeeHouston ChronicleFebruary 28, 2012Firm attorney and lead counsel James Rytting for condemned Larry Swearingen is back in court in a hearing granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals after Mr. Swearingen received his third stay of execution. The days hearing dealt with expert entomologists.Click For Full Story
High Court Won’t Hear Inmate’s Evidence of InnocenceThe U.S. Supreme Court today refused to consider stopping the execution of Larry Ray Swearingen, a firm client on Texas death row based on newly uncovered evidence proving his innocence.James Rytting of Hilder & Associates, had asked the high court to decide for the first time whether executing an innocent person constitutes cruel and unusual punishment under the Constitution.In a prior ruling Judge Jacques Wiener of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that Swearingen’s appeal “might be the very case” for the Supreme Court “to recognize actual innocence as a ground for federal habeas relief.”Today also started the beginning of a hearing ordered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals when it stayed Mr. Swearingen’s execution last August. The hearing will deal with forensic evidence.Click For Full Story
Experts: Texas tycoon’s testimony not worth riskinsurancenews.netFebruary 16, 2012Juan A.Lozano, A.P.If Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford decides to testify in his ongoing fraud trial, it could be the most important sales pitch he’s ever had to make.With his freedom on the line, some legal experts question if the gamble of testifying is worth the risk that the larger-than-life businessman might come across as arrogant due to a jet-setting lifestyle that wouldn’t connect with jurors. Of even greater concern is that he wouldn’t be able to give a plausible explanation for what happened to the billions in investor funds he’s accused of taking.“I think it would be a horrible idea for him to testify. I think prosecutors are licking their chops hoping he would be foolish enough to testify,” saidAndrew Stoltmann, a Chicago-based attorney who specializes in investment fraud and has been following the trial. “Jurors want to hear from the defendant. But the downside is the prosecution gets to use him as a pinata for a couple of days on the stand.”Defense attorneys had said at the start of the trial that Stanford would testify. But the defense’s list of 26 potential witnesses, made public Wednesday, did not include the financier.That doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t take the stand, but a gag order prevents attorneys from discussing the case.Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said Stanford and his attorneys will have to decide if there are matters only the financier can clarify.Click For Full Story
Experts: Stanford’s trial not won with 1 witnessAPJuan LozanoFebruary 12, 2012 From testimony about bribes, blood oaths, faked profits and secret Swiss bank accounts, the ongoing fraud trial of jailed and former jet setting Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford has had its share of drama.And many of the details about the alleged fraud that prosecutors say bilked investors out of more than $7 billion in one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history were provided by Stanford’s former top money man and the prosecution’s star witness, James M. Davis, over more than four days of testimony.But Stanford’s attorneys did their best to tear down Davis and portray him to jurors as a liar, adulterer, tax cheat and the true mastermind of the scheme who has pleaded guilty to three fraud and conspiracy charges as part of a plea deal with prosecutors and will say anything to avoid a lengthy prison term.While legal experts say Davis’ credibility will be important with jurors during their deliberations, a fraud case as complex as this one isn’t won or lost with one witness and Stanford’s fate remains unclear.“A trial is very much like a mosaic and the pieces in their entirety show the picture,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor who’s followed the trial. “Mr. Davis’ testimony, while key, is not the whole case.”
Defense has tough decision: Should Stanford testify?Houston ChroniclePurva PatelFebruary 6, 2012 As the fraud trial of R. Allen Stanford progresses in Houston federal court, defense attorneys will have to make a critical decision: whether to put their client on the stand.His lawyers told the jury as the trial began that he plans to testify, but that’s not a commitment.“It’s always a calculated risk,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the Stanford case.Click For Full Story
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Steffy: State of Stanford’s defense may leave questionsHouston ChronicleLoren SteffyJanuary 12, 2012After three years, fallen billionaire R. Allen Stanford is set to go to trial in 10 days on charges he ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Yet with the trial looming, his legal defense is in a shambles.On Wednesday, his lawyers asked to withdraw from the case. A week before that, his expert witnesses quit because they hadn’t been paid in three months.Stanford’s assets were frozen after his 2009 arrest, leaving him to rely on his company’s insurance policy to pay for his defense. Stanford, who was denied bail and has remained in prison for almost three years, squandered most of the money on a revolving door of legal talent, going through 10 lawyers before the insurance company refused to pay for more.Phillip Hilder, a Houston defense attorney who isn’t involved in the case, said, “The defense is put in a no-win situation.”Hittner already told Stanford he can’t have any more lawyers, so the judge is probably going to order the current legal team to see the case through.Stanford has become the anti-Skilling. Accused of complex financial crimes, his shoestring defense has little in common with the Enron executive’s gold-plated and relentless legal campaign. Jeff Skilling still fights the charges against him, five years and tens of millions of dollars after his conviction.“In Enron, you had a cohesive defense, you had clients who were not incarcerated, you had clients who were of a sound mind, and you had financial resources,” said Hilder, who represented Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins, a government witness in Skilling’s trial. “All of that is lacking in the Stanford case. It’s just a comedy of missteps.”Click For Full Story
Stanford asks judge to delay trial after experts resignHouston ChroniclePurva PatelJanuary 2, 2012Expert witnesses working for R. Allen Stanford‘s defense have resigned because they haven’t been paid, according to a request made by the former billionaire’s lawyers to postpone his trial.Last week, U.S. District Judge David Hittner rejected a previous request for a 90-day continuance in the trial of Stanford, who is accused of swindling investors out of $7 billion. The latest request asks the judge to reconsider and notes Stanford – who was only recently deemed competent to assist his attorneys – needs time to go through the evidence in the case in order to assist in his defense.So far, all expenses submitted to the district court have been within the budget previously submitted to the court, but experts haven’t been paid for four months, according to a recent motion filed by Stanford’s government- appointed lawyers.While the district court usually handles approval of payments for indigent defendants like Stanford, the circuit court may step in when a case’s budget looks like it will exceed the allocated funds, said Philip Hilder, a Houston attorney and former federal prosecutor.There is usually an arbitrary lag time of weeks or months before payments are made after being submitted, but in such a time-consuming case, experts aren’t necessarily going to “take it on good faith that they’re going to get paid,” Hilder said.“The defense is in a difficult position because this particular case is expensive and yet they have a duty and obligation to zealously defend Mr. Stanford,” Hilder said. “Unless the defense can properly and adequately utilize expert testimony, Mr. Stanford may have a claim for ineffective counsel.”Click For Full Story
Energy operations lead corruption prosecutionsHouston Business JournalDeon DaughertyDecember 27, 2011Although the energy industry tops the list of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, it’s important to realize the oil and gas business sometimes operates in parts of the world where what looks like a bribe under U.S. law might be considered a gift elsewhere.A new study by the James Mintz Group, a corporate investigations firm in New York, found that the FCPA of 1977 has led to the prosecution of more than 200 cases in 80 countries and more than $4 billion in sanctions – almost half of those financial penalties were levied against companies operating in the energy sector.However, white-collar crime experts say those stats don’t necessarily mean nefarious folks are running oil and gas companies.“All of these companies operate in very difficult parts of the world,” said Houston attorney, Philip Hilder, managing partner of the Hilder & Associates, PC law firm. “They’ve got to do a very delicate balancing act between operating legally under U.S. law and actually being able to compete on a global market with and against other companies from other countries that may be less than ethical.“I wouldn’t take the fact these companies have been prosecuted to say there’s a corruption epidemic out there,” he said. “The lesson to be taken away is it’s important to have a compliance program in place and a strong code of conduct going forward because … big brother is looking over your shoulder.”Click for Full Story
Investors await justice as Stanford case crawlsHouston ChroniclePurva PatelDecember 18, 2011Nearly three years after former Houston billionaire R. Allen Stanford‘s arrest, investors who lost money in an alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme still wait for resolution: a trial, restitution, some sign of justice.The case is scheduled for another step Tuesday, when Stanford, 61, is scheduled to appear in Houston federal court for a hearing to determine if he is competent to stand trial.That will be the latest link in a long and complex chain that includes repeated changes in Stanford’s legal representation, and a jailhouse fight that resulted in drug dependency and possible brain damage.Defendants can have mental defects or brain injuries and still be competent to understand the proceedings against them and help in their defense, said Sorrels, who has won a case for a client judged not guilty by reason of insanity.Philip Hilder, a Houston attorney and former federal prosecutor, noted that while drug dependency usually can be treated, the severity of Stanford’s head injury could be another matter.Click For Full Story
Enron wasn’t all bad news for one coupleabc 13Jessica WilleyDecember 2, 2011 Ten years ago, we saw hundreds of shocked employees packing up and heading out. “It was a very very dark day,” Attorney Phillip Hilder said. Hilder represented Sherron Watkins, now dubbed the Enron whistle blower, “She was as cool as a cucumber,” Hilder said. He was with her when she testified before Congress. “Enron is a tale of greed and I think that if there is a lesson to be learned is that greed can corrupt even good people and good ideas,” Hilder said.Click For Video
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6th Annual ABA National Institute on Securities FraudOn November 3-4, 2011 Philip Hilder co-chaired the American Bar Association on 6th Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud held in New Orleans. The program faculty also included Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division United States Department of Justice and Robert S. Khuzami Director, Division of Enforcement United States Securities and Exchange Commission.
6th Annual ABA National Institute on Securities Fraud: Social Media PanelOn November 4, 2011 Philip Hilder moderated a panel dealing with the use of social media in defending a client at the ABA National Institute on Securities Fraud in New Orleans. The panel included Carrie Johnson, Justice Correspondent with National Public Radio and Kara Scannell, white collar crime reporter for the Financial Times. Mr. Hilder is the co-chair of the program.Click for Power Point Presentation
Independent Police Oversight Board of DirectorsPhilip Hilder was confirmed to serve on the Independent Police Oversight Board of Directors by Houston City Council on October 26, 2011 after being appointed by Mayor Parker. The purpose of the Board is to review internal police investigations of possible misconduct by the Houston Police Department that involve allegations of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death, serious internal investigation, and mistreatment of citizens.
BNP Paribas Sued by U.S. Over Banker’s Alleged Role in FraudBloombergLaura Brubaker Calkins October 19, 2011BNP Paribas SA was sued by the U.S. over allegations the Paris-based bank aided a grain export fraud scheme involving commodity payment guarantees provided by the Department of Agriculture.When the Mexican importers defaulted on payments for dozens of grain shipments from 1998 to 2006, BNP and Jovenal “Jerry” M. Cruz, its former trade finance manager, “presented or caused to be presented false or fraudulent claims to the USDA,” Zingaro said in the complaint, which also names Cruz, BNP Paribas North America and BNP Paribas Houston Agency as defendants.Philip Hilder, Cruz’s attorney, said in a phone interview that the former BNP vice president has entered a plea of not guilty and is awaiting trial in February. Three other people charged in the scheme have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing, according to court records.
Wall Street Journal, Sherron WatkinsOctober 17, 2011 The Wall Street Journal has featured stories on Enron and the role of whistleblower Sherron Watkins. Philip Hilder represented Ms. Watkins before congress and in the dealings with the Government.Lasting Fame For Her RoleThe Shadow of Enron Still Lingers
Eversole expected to plead guilty this morningHouston ChronicleMike MorrisSeptember 30, 2011Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who announced his resignation from office last week as part of an apparent plea deal, is expected to formalize that deal this morning in federal court.Eversole and his codefendant Mike Surface will appear before U.S. District Judge David Hittner at 10 a.m.Sentencing will follow at a later date, perhaps not until next year, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who is not connected to the Eversole case.Click For Full Story
News Corp.’s other hacking scandalPOLITICOSeptember 29, 2011Firm client Robert Emmel is in the news and referred to in the Politico’s story “News Corp’s other hacking Scandal.Click For Full Article
Eversole may enter guilty plea Sept. 30Houston ChronicleMike MorrisSeptember 22, 2011Harris County Commissioner Jerry Eversole, who on Monday announced his resignation as part of an apparent plea deal, appears likely to formalize that deal in a federal court Sept. 30, according to documents filed with the court this afternoon.The document, a “notice of setting,” says Eversole and his co-defendant Mike Surface will appear before Judge David Hittner at 10 a.m. on Sept. 30 for a “re-arraignment hearing.”“It is a confirmation that a plea deal has occurred and that a plea of guilty will be officially entered by the court to the charges contained in the criminal information,” said former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, who is not connected to the Eversole case.Click For Full Story
Eversole resigns; Emmett to appoint successorMike MorrisSeptember 19, 2011Houston ChronicleHarris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Eversole, weeks away from being retried on federal corruption charges, on Monday announced his resignation from office, effective Oct. 1.Eversole submitted a resignation letter to County Judge Ed Emmett‘s office at 2 p.m. About 4 p.m., the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed court documents that suggest Eversole’s resignation was part of negotiations with prosecutors that could see him and his co-defendant plead guilty to lesser charges, legal experts said.The Department of Justice has alleged Eversole took nearly $100,000 in cash and gifts from friend Michael Surface in exchange for steering lucrative county contracts to companies in which Surface had an interest. Eversole has denied any wrongdoing, and his attorneys have characterized the government’s case as criminalizing a friendship.Documents filed with the court Monday suggest Eversole – who is facing four charges – may plead guilty to one count of making a false statement to FBI agents, said former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder. That charge carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.Click For Full Story
News Corp. and Enron: scandals with much in commonPhilip HilderSeptember 18, 2011Houston ChronicleCorporate culture takes root in the statements, behavior and tolerances of those at the top. Honesty and honor can flourish in a business when practiced by its leaders. And deceit and concealment can become the mores of a company when employees are led in that direction.When captains of industry build a corruption-endorsing culture, they seem to also later disavow responsibility and knowledge. So it goes right now for Rupert Murdoch in the News Corp. phone hacking scandal and so it went a decade ago for the late Ken Lay in the Enron financial scandal.From the vantage point of people in the corporate ranks who saw trouble brewing, the current News Corp. disgrace has a lot in common with Enron’s 2001 fall. As the current lawyer for Robert Emmel, a News America (a News Corp. subsidiary) whistle-blower, and the former lawyer for Sherron Watkins, an Enron vice president who famously warned of impending doom at the company, I see unpleasant similarities too.
News Corp. Ex-Employee Said Contacted in U.S.Tom SchoenbergSeptember 16, 2011BloombergProsecutors investigating hacking and bribery allegations at Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp. (NWSA) are seeking to interview a former employee of a U.S. unit who claims knowledge of illegal activity at the company, according to a person familiar with the matter.U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan this month contacted a lawyer for Robert Emmel, a former account director at News America Marketing In-Store LLC, about allegations of hacking and possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter.Philip Hilder, a lawyer for Emmel, said in an interview that “authorities have reached out” to him. Hilder declined to identify the investigators or what they are seeking.Click For Full Story
Investigators Reach Out To News Corp. Whistleblower In U.SEric BoehlertMedia MattersSeptember 16, 2011In another sign that allegations of News Corp. misconduct are being closely reviewed by law enforcement in the United States in the wake of the company’s sweeping phone-hacking scandal in Britain, Media Matters has learned that investigators have reached out to Robert Emmel, a former News Corp. employee turned-whistleblower.Now, in the wake of the widespread phone-hacking done by Murdoch’s tabloid journalists in Britain, U.S. investigators are taking a fresh look at the News America allegations and for the first time have reached out to Emmel, confirms Philip Hilder, an attorney for Emmel.Click For Full Story
ABA AppointmentOn August 5, 2011 Philip H. Hilder, Hilder & Associates, P.C., was appointed National Vice Chair of the ABA-Criminal Justice Section – White Collar Crime Committee at the ABA annual meeting held in Toronto, Canada
Did a Top GOP Staffer for Sen. Grassley Cover Up Evidence of News Corp Hacking In The US?ThinkprogressSeptember 7, 2011Lee Fang A top investigator for the Senate Finance Committee, working under Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), may have had smoking gun evidence of News Corp’s hacking activity. While News Corp’s British subsidiaries have received the most media attention for systematically hacking the cell phone and personal records of private citizens, the public still has heard little of allegations relating to similar conduct perpetrated by News Corp against its American competitors. ThinkProgress has learned that not only did a sensitive tip come to Grassley’s office about News Corp’s cyber attacks against other American companies, but authorities may have failed to look into the matter partially because a staffer named Nick Podsiadly allegedly never followed through on his promise to the whistleblower.Podsiadly, as it turned out, may have never opened an inquiry or passed along Emmel’s tip to the Department of Justice. A spokeswoman for Grassley explained to the Guardian that ongoing litigation prevented the committee from action:A spokeswoman for the finance committee said nothing would be done with any documents sent by Emmel until the litigation over them had ended. Emmel today remains under a court-imposed injunction that forbids him from disclosing anything from these documents. “I cannot comment,” he said.Philip Hilder, Emmel’s attorney, is not buying the committee’s excuse for not investigating the matter. “What litigation? I’m not sure at the time there was any litigation that they were referring to.” Hilder explained that to his knowledge the tip was never referred to the Department of Justice either. “I have no idea what if anything Mr. Podsiadly did with the information,” said Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.Click For Full Story
Hacking exposes holes in officers Web securityHouston ChronicleSeptember 3, 2011By: Terry Langford A cyber-attack on the email accounts of Texas police chiefs revealed the vulnerability even of the state’s top cops and appears to have prompted a new investigation into a notorious hacking group.The stealthy group known as Anonymous claimed responsibility for “Texas Takedown Thursday.” The email accounts of 25 members of the Texas Police Chiefs Association were compromised and their contents posted online.Philip Hilder, a Houston defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said the group’s members could be prosecuted under Texas or federal laws prohibiting unauthorized access to computer systems.“I think it just underscores how fast technology is moving and that really it seems that no system is above a potential breach,” Hilder said.Click For Full Story
Is Rick Perry Ready to Execute an Innocent Man?The NationJordan Smith Swearingen was scheduled to die on August 18. But his execution was stayed in late July by the state’s highest criminal court, the notoriously pro-prosecution Court of Criminal Appeals, in order to have the trial court consider new evidence: Histological samples of Trotter’s cardiac, lung and vascular tissue that a growing number of doctors, including well-respected Texas pathologists, say show conclusively that Swearingen could not have killed Trotter.Had Swearingen’s lawyers focused on the medical evidence more closely, they could have built another road-the one that Rytting has been developing since taking the case on appeal: medical proof does not match the state’s theory of the case, and points strongly toward another killer, he says. Evidence left unexplained includes male DNA found in Trotter’s fingernails, which does not match Swearingen. But more importantly, there is the tissue evidence that more than a half-dozen respected forensic scientists from Texas and beyond say is completely inconsistent with the state’s theory of Trotter’s death.Click For Full Story
Goldman Sachs CEO hires criminal defense lawyerLA TimesAugust 23, 2011Nathaniel Popper and Walter HamiltonGoldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein has hired a prominent Washington criminal law attorney to defend him against any charges resulting from government investigations into the financial crisis.The decision to bring on a top legal name such as Weingarten suggests how seriously Blankfein is taking the investigation and that there could be a new push to investigate the firm and its executives on criminal grounds. The move to hire an outside attorney was first reported by Reuters.“He’s got an incredible amount to lose, and there’s a lot of anger out there,” said Philip Hilder, a criminal-defense attorney in Houston. “It signifies that the investigations are serious in tone and that he’s not taking them lightly.”Click For Full Story
A life unravelled … whistleblower who incurred wrath of the Murdoch empireguardian.co.ukEd PilkingtonAugust 17, 2011Also in the Huffington Post Five years ago Robert Emmel was enjoying the American dream. He lived in a detached house in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, drove a BMW, and earned $140,000 a year as an accounts director in a highly successful advertising company called News America Marketing.Today, Emmel is described by his lawyers as destitute. Jobless and in debt, he was discharged from bankruptcy last year. He does occasional consultancy work that last month brought in $500, and this month, court documents show, will probably produce nothing. His wife’s earnings raise monthly household income to about $3,000 – half their outgoings.This is a cautionary tale about what can happen to someone who dares to become a corporate whistleblower. Or, more specifically, someone who incurs the wrath of News Corporation, the media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, of which News America forms a part.Emmel’s lawyer, Philip Hilder, has had a ringside seat at the gradual unravelling of his client’s life. A former federal prosecutor based in Houston, Texas, Hilder is well versed in whistleblower cases having represented Sherron Watkins, who helped uncover the Enron scandal. Hilder said: “News America has engaged in Rambo litigation tactics. They have a scorched earth policy, and it’s taken a huge toll on him.”Emmel today remains under a court-imposed injunction that forbids him from disclosing anything from these documents. “I cannot comment,” he said.Hilder said he was struck by an irony in the Emmel case. “Here is a company, News Corp, that is in the business of disseminating information to the public, and yet its subsidiary does everything in its power to silence him.”Click For Full Story
News Corp division comes under scrutinyKara ScannellFinancial TimesAugust 9, 2011Following the phone hacking scandal in the UK, claims of computer hacking and other anti-competitive behavior against a supermarket advertising company that is a unit of News Corp have attracted the attention of US officials.In-store advertiser Floorgraphics sued News America Marketing, a News Corp division that sells newspaper inserts, coupons and in-store advertising, in 2004 for allegedly engaging in anti-competitive tactics, including hacking into its password-protected computer system in order to access proprietary advertising contracts.Robert Emmel, a News America employee turned whistleblower, testified at the Floorgraphics trial and also provided documents to Senate investigators and others in 2006.Mr Emmel’s attorney, Philip Hilder, said his client “in the past had provided information to the authorities regarding News America. To date, he has not been subpoenaed to follow up.”Click For Full Story
In Murder Case, Science May Get Its Day in CourtBrandi GrissomAugust 7, 2011New York Times/ Texas TribuneIn a rare move last week, the notoriously pro-prosecution Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed Mr. Swearingen’s scheduled Aug. 18 execution and ordered a lower court to review his claims of actual innocence.For Mr. Swearingen and his lawyers, the stay was a big victory. “This stay acknowledges powerful scientific evidence of innocence,” Mr. Rytting said.Click For Full Story
Finite convictions overturnedBusiness InsuranceSonya RystAugust 7, 2011Former executives of General Re Corp. and American International Group Inc. convicted in 2008 in connection with a bogus finite reinsurance deal have been given another chance to clear their names.A three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York last week overturned the convictions and ordered a new trial, ruling in part that the jury had been improperly instructed.“It was a meritorious decision by the court,” said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who is in criminal defense at Hilder & Associates P.C. in Houston. “There were infirmities that needed to be addressed…and the government will have another bite of the apple.”Click For Full Story
Feds allege ‘fraudulent schemes’ by sports boosterHouston ChronicleAugust 1, 2011By Purva Patel and David BarronBasketball booster David Salinas, his companies and a business associate took money from clients for investment in bogus corporate bonds, regulators said today as they moved to seize company assets.Former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, a Houston attorney who specializes in white collar crime cases, said today’s civil filings Monday are among the first steps in a process that could take several years and is still not likely to satisfy investors who may have lost money.Recovery is always spotty, and investors never get paid back the full amount that they have lost, he said. “It’s premature to speculate what investors may be able to recoup, and it’s fair to say that it won’t be to their satisfaction.”Click For Full Story
Condemned inmate Swearingen gets reprieveHouston ChronicleJuly 29, 2011Renee C. Lee Death row inmate Larry Swearingen has dodged an execution date for a third time in the 1998 slaying of a Montgomery County college student.The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Thursday that new evidence in Swearingen’s appeal raised the issue of due process violation. The court remanded the case to the 9th state District Court in Montgomery County for a hearing.Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said his client was convicted on false forensic testimony. A former Harris County medical examiner who testified during Swearingen’s capital murder trial changed her testimony in 2007.“It was a courageous decision by the Texas Criminal Court of Appeals,” Rytting said. “It was the right decision, and it acknowledges the science in this case is powerful proof that Mr. Swearingen could not have committed the crime.”Click For Full Story
Stay Of Execution granted for Firm Client Larry Ray SwearingenFirm announces a stay of execution of Larry Ray Swearingen by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Firm attorney James G. Rytting was able to secure a stay of execution that was scheduled for August 18, 2011. The Court remanded the Application to the trial court to review and resolve the claims raised.Click to read Order
Troubles That Money Can’t DispelDavid CarrThe New York TimesJuly 17, 2011The News Corp scandal has exposed a wide troublesome corporate culture for the company. Bob Emmel was the whistleblower on a related Murdock company, News America. Due in large part to Mr. Emmel’s testimony, the company has paid out over $650 million to settle lawsuits. Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C. represents Mr. Emmel.Click For Full Story
Obama nominates Magidson for top federal prosecutor postHouston ChronicleBrian RogersJune 28, 2011President Barack Obama on Tuesday chose four nominees for the top federal prosecutor positions in Texas, including Kenneth Magidson for the Houston-based Southern District of Texas.Before Tuesday’s nominations, 12 of the 93 U.S. attorney posts in the country had remained unfilled, including four in Texas.Phillip Hilder, a friend and colleague of Magidson’s, said the career prosecutor is apolitical, which afforded him the appointment by Perry in 2008, then a federal nomination three years later by a Democratic president.“Kenny ultimately understands that a prosecutor is supposed to seek justice, which can be an unpopular move,” said Hilder, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Magidson in the 1980s. “It’s clear his appointment is based on his competency – not his politics.”He also said Magidson is uniquely qualified to understand the district where he has worked for 28 years.
Aug. 18 execution date set for Conroe student’s killerHouston ChronicleRenee C. LeeJune 28, 2011 A judge has set an Aug. 18 execution date for condemned killer Larry Swearingen, who has twice eluded lethal injection for the slaying of a college student in Montgomery County.Swearingen was convicted in 2000 for the kidnapping, rape and strangulation of 19-year-old Melissa Trotter, a Montgomery College student who disappeared from the Conroe campus on Dec. 8, 1998. Her body was found nearly a month later in the Sam Houston National Forest with a piece of pantyhose around her neck.The Texas Court of Appeals denied Swearingen’s most recent petition in February 2010.Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, said he has filed another petition with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.Swearingen won stays of execution in January 2007 and January 2009. In each case, the reprieve came a day before his execution.Click for Full Story
Judge rules environmentalist lawsuit against Enron can proceedErwin SebaJune 8, 2011Thompson ReutersA federal judge on Tuesday said two environmental groups’ could sue for enforcement of federal pollution standards at Exxon Mobil Corp’s Baytown, Texas, refinery, the nation’s largest.Exxon, the largest U.S. refiner, had asked federal Judge David Hitner to throw out the lawsuit because the Baytown refinery is already subject to federal Clean Air Act enforcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.For the plaintiffs: Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates; Bracha Etengoff, Joshua Kratka and Charles Caldart of National Environmental Law Center; David Nicholas.Click For Full Story
Family accused of stealing $13M from energy firmBrian RogersJune 6, 2011Houston Chronicle Harris County prosecutors today said a former accountant and several members of her family stole more than $13 million from a Houston oil and gas company over 10 years.Nancy Moreno is accused of paying dummy accounts with company money while working at Davis-Lynch, an oilfield service company. Moreno set up the bogus accounts to funnel money to herself and several relatives.Philip Hilder, an attorney for the Trevinos, declined to comment, saying he will argue the couple’s case in court.Click For Full Story
Former Enron prosecutor to take top White House jobTom FowlerHouston ChronicleJune 2, 2011 A former prosecutor of Enron executives has been tapped to serve as President Barack Obama’s top lawyer. Ruemmler, now 40, was among the youngest of the attorneys involved in the Enron cases when she joined the Enron Task Force. The Richland, Wash., native and Georgetown University Law Center grad became second in command of the group when former Enron Chairman Ken Lay and CEO Jeff Skilling went to trial in 2006. She gave the closing argument for the government. Philip Hilder, a Houston defense attorney who represented a number of former Enron workers who were witnesses, praised Ruemmler’s work. “She has a profound sense of justice and doesn’t see her role as one to win at all costs,” Hilder said. “She was deliberate and thoughtful in her actions, not one who would shoot from the hip. “While some Enron prosecutors drew the ire of the defense bar, Ruemmler was consistently reasonable to work with, Hilder said.Click For Full Story
Galleon verdict shows power of wire tapsKara ScannellFT.comMay 11, 2011The conviction of hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam is likely to spur the use of wire taps by prosecutors aiming to halt abusive trading, lawyers say.“You can’t just say ‘a conversation was taken out of context’ when you have a recorded phone call,” says Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor. “It is one of the most powerful tools a prosecutor has and to utilize them in a white-collar case like this one is devastating for the defense.”Click For Full Story
Philip Hilder is interviewed on KIAH regarding the Clements caseClick For Video
Hearing in Clemens case todayHouston ChronicleJose De Jesus OrtizApril 20, 2011“I think one of the big issues is Mr. Clemens had subpoenaed documents from Congress that were prepared in their internal investigation into performance-enhancement drugs in baseball,” said former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder. Click For Full Story
Dismissal in State CourtApril 10, 2011Firm obtained Government dismissal for a clients accused of theft. The case was heard before State court.
Dismissal of Federal IndictmentMarch 31, 2011Firm obtained a Government dismissal of a federal indictment against a client dentist charged in a Medicaid anti-kickback scheme. The case was being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.
Shortage forces Texas to switch execution drugDallas NewsMarch 16, 2011Houston defense lawyer Phillip H. Hilder derided the pentobarbital choice and said that Texas prison officials needed to be more “transparent” in making the decision. Hilder predicted that the move would ultimately wind up in the courts.“The fact that it has been used and individuals executed doesn’t mean that it’s humane,” Hilder said. “It may mean that it’s effective, but not humane. Electrocution is effective but has been proven to not be humane. You have to dig deeper.”Click For Full Story
In Praise of WhistleblowersThe Financial Times ran a column about the importance of the role whistleblowers play in corporate culture. The author writes It takes brave individuals to act as whistleblowers and should be thanked for helping to create an environment that values an ethical, sustainable and profitable approach to management” The article features Mrs. Sherron Watkins, the Enron Whistle blower and client of Philip H. Hilder.Click for Financial Times Article
21st Annual National Institute on Healthcare Fraud ProgramPhilip H. Hilder will be a part of the panel “Trail Practice Demonstration” at the 21st Annual National Institute on Healthcare Fraud Program being held in Miami, Florida on May 11-13, 2011.TRIAL PRACTICE DEMONSTRATION – U.S. v. Fallah, et al (S.D. Texas)This case involved ambulance transportation of dialysis patients to regularly scheduled non-emergency dialysis treatments. The indictment charged the defendants with false and fraudulent claims for medically unnecessary ambulance transports, kickbacks to ambulance transportation companies, and money laundering. This jury trial involved significant issues in the application of rules for reimbursement and ambiguity of the regulations. The case also included issues of proper jury instruction, and damages in connection with the false claims, kickbacks to the ambulance companies and to the patients.Click for Program BrochureClick To Register
Philip H. Hilder interviewed on KIAH News on the Jessica Tata CaseMarch 1, 2011Click Here for video and full story
Joint FBA/ABA luncheonOn February 17, 2011, Philip Hilder, Chair of the Federal Bar Association, Criminal Section (So. TX Chapter), and the ABA White Collar Crime Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Section, Regional Co-Chair, introduced Rose Romero, the Regional Director of the Fort Worth Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, at the joint FBA/ABA luncheon. Ms. Romero spoke on the current trends and enforcement initiatives of the S.E.C.
Philip H. Hilder interviewed on KIAH News on the Jeffery Stern CaseFebruary 1, 2011 Philip Hilder was asked to comment on the Jeffery Sterns case by KIAH Chanel 39 News.
Attorneys busy in Clemens caseSaturday, January 22, 2011, Houston Chronicle sought legal opinion for a story dealing with Astros pitcher Roger Clemens who is under indictment. The paper cited legal experts contacted by the Chronicle. The Chronicle asked Philip Hilder the merits. “It’s not necessarily a baseless motion by the government,” said local attorney, Philip Hilder. “It’s got to be heard by the court to determine if there’s a conflict and if so the extent and if it can be cured by bringing in a second lawyer to handle the examination of Mr. Pettitte.Click for Houston Chronicle Story
Bribery, Business & Soccer Tickets: UK Law Puts Businesses on Defenseeatsoccer.blogspot.comWho knew that tickets to a Arsenal match could land a U.S. business in hot water, and possibly have an executive facing up to 10 years in the slammer? These are questions that attorneys, such as Philip Hilder, a white-collar criminal defense attorney at Hilder & Associates in Houston, are trying quickly understand the answers to for their clients.Click For Full Story
Philip Hilder to speak at the American Industrial Hygiene Association Gulf Coast SectionHouston Chronicle Meeting. 5:30-8 p.m. , Brady’s Landing,8505 Cypress. Speaker: Philip Hilder, former attorney-in-charge of the U.S. Justice Department’s Organized Crime Strike Force in Houston. Topic: Criminal Prosecution for a Safety Violation Is No Accident. Cost: $10-$25. Information: Gerry Luther, 281-356-6038, ext. 238.
Philip Hilder was interviewed by Dallas Talk Radio, KRLDJanuary 10, 2011 radio interview – Tom DeLay, the former House Majority Leader, was sentenced on January 10, 2011, to 3 years for conspiracy to commit money laundering. Philip Hilder, was interviewed by Dallas Talk Radio, KRLD about the sentencing and likely appeal.
Philip H. Hilder featured in one of Bloombergs Photographs of 2010January 4, 2010 – While representing a client before a board of inquiry on the Gulf Oil Spill, Philip Hilder was photographed providing advice to his BP client. This photo was one of the recipients of the Best Bloomberg Photos Award of 2010 From Around the World.
Death Penalty Evidentiary Hearing Granted by Texas Court of Criminal AppealsOn December 15, 2010, James G. Rytting of Hilder & Associates, P.C. was successful in obtaining an evidentiary hearing from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas for death penalty client, Ronald Jeffrey Prible, Jr. Mr. Rytting had filed an Application for Writ of Habeas Corpus based upon previous litigation where the federal district found that several of Mr. Prible’s claims were unexhausted. The Court of Criminal Appeals has remanded the case back to the trial court so that the habeas corpus record can be supplemented with evidence.
Environmentalists sue ExxonMobil over air lawsAssociated PressDecember 14, 2010The largest oil refinery in the United States released more than 8 million pounds of illegal pollution in the past five years, violating the federal Clean Air Act thousands of times, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by environmental groups in Texas.The lawsuit against ExxonMobil is the latest by Sierra Club and Environment Texas as part of their campaign to rein in what they call “illegal emissions” by dozens of refineries and chemical plants that operate in the Texas Gulf Coast. In recent months, the groups have reached multimillion-dollar, out-of-court settlements with Shell and Chevron Phillips after filing similar suits. Philip H. Hilder is lead counsel for the plaintiffs in this suit.Press Release
Sierra Club sues Exxon over Baytown refinery pollutionErwin Seba and Jeff RobertsReuters LegalDecember 14, 2010The Sierra Club and Environment Texas filed a federal lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp for five years of excess pollution at the nation’s largest refinery, the Sierra Club said on Tuesday.The lawsuit alleges Exxon’s refinery and chemical plant in Baytown, Texas, committed over 2,500 violations of the Clean Air Act between 2005 and 2010 and released over 8 million lbs of pollutants into the atmosphere, said Neil Carman, clean air director of the Sierra Club’s Texas chapterThe case is Environment Texas Citizen Lobby, Inc et al v. ExxonMobil Corporation et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 4:10-cv-04969. The docket states that Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates is lead counsel for the plaintiffs.Click for Full Story
Medicaid fraud crackdown threatens citizens’ rightsPhilip H. HilderHouston ChronicleDecember 11, 2010Constitutional protections are being hastily overlooked in our government’s zeal to crack down on Medicaid fraud. But even that worthy cause doesn’t merit a denigration of citizens’ rights.In the case of Medicaid fraud, the Texas Legislature has not only encouraged but required government agencies to mix civil and criminal investigations on such a regular basis that the constitutional rights of the people and businesses being investigated are being trampled routinely.Click for Full Article
Clemens gets more time to prep for trialJose de Jesus OrtizDecember 9, 2010Houston ChronicleFor almost two years, former Sen. George Mitchell’s investigators traveled the country looking into the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Once Mitchell’s report for Major League Baseball implicated former Astro Roger Clemens and several other prominent players, Congress went digging some more.Some attorneys predict that both will ultimately have to turn over evidence once Hardin files a subpoena for the material in question.“I think that Clemens is going to be able to get information in that there’s no separation of powers in this particular case,” said former federal prosecutor Philip Hilder, who represented Enron whistle-blower Sherron Watkins in congressional hearings. “If this evidence is deemed to be exculpatory or favorable to them, then the government, regardless of branch, has the ethical obligation to turn (it) over.”If the Mitchell commission shared information with the committee, its claims of attorney-client and attorney work-product privileges could be compromised, making the information in question available to Hardin.“If the Mitchell investigators shared information with the congressional investigators or staff,” Hilder said, “then any privilege would be waived and Mr. Clemens would be entitled (to the material).”Click For Full Story
KTRH News Radio Round TableDecember 2, 2010Live Radio discussion with Philip H. Hilder regarding the impact of the collapse of Enron on its anniversary of bankruptcy.
KTRH News RadioDecember 1, 2010Philip H. Hilder was interviewed regarding fraud related to the current financial crisis
Commodities Regulator May Be Sleeping Giant-Firm CommentaryThe Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has the reputation of a bulky bureaucracy that is too ineffectual to effectively discover and prosecute irregularities in the trading of cotton, soybeans or pork bellies the way the Securities and Exchange Commission does in the stock market. “But the Dodd-Frank Act that reforms Wall Street and our financial regulatory system may have added enough teeth to the CFTC to make the government agency a contender,” says Houston white-collar criminal lawyer Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates. “The CFTC now has increased enforcement authority and new rules for stepped up reporting by traders it watches. Those things and the bounty hunter-like whistleblower provisions should change the prosecutorial effectiveness and reputation of the agency.”
DeLay’s conviction starts lengthy appeals processRAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTINovember 25, 2010Associated Press, Kansas City StarThe conviction of Tom DeLay, once one of the most powerful Republican wheelers-and-dealers in Congress, marks the beginning of a lengthy and vehement appeals process that will seek to cleanse the name and record of the former House majority leader.Some legal experts argue that such unprecedented cases immediately raise the interest of the appellate courts. Others, however, note that Texas’ conservative, largely Republican appellate courts do not have a strong record of siding with defendants.“Statistically, he is going to be fighting an uphill battle,” said Philip H. Hilder, a former prosecutor who is now a Houston-based criminal attorney concentrating on white-collar cases.The courts could see it as a “partisan fight” though, Hilder said.“Then the courts are of his political persuasion,” he added. “But still, they would have to rely on precedent and they will have to really do back flips to do any favor to him.”Click For Full Story
Judge Has Many Options in Sentencing ex-Rep DeLayBy: Juan A. Lozano AP, Houston Chronicle November 25, 2010Former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay argued throughout his trial that the deck was stacked against him by a politically motivated prosecutor and a jury from the most Democratic city in one of the most Republican states.But following DeLay’s conviction Wednesday on money laundering and conspiracy charges, some legal experts say the edge may now shift to the Republican who represented a conservative Houston suburb for 22 years.Before DeLay’s inevitable appeal, which his lawyers predict will be a far friendlier process than his trial, he faces sentencing next month from Senior Judge Pat Priest. While technically the money laundering charge carries a punishment of up to life in prison, the judge has wide latitude and could end up just giving him probation.“It is absolutely impossible he would get anywhere near life,” said Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor. “It would be a period of a few years, if he gets prison.”DeLay opted to be sentenced by Priest, a Democrat, rather than a jury in heavily Democratic Austin. Hilder said that was a wise move, particularly if DeLay thinks he might be able to get by with just a probation sentence.“The judge may be more receptive than a jury,” Hilder said. “He obviously thinks he will get a fairer shake with the judge. The jury more likely would sentence him to prison time.”
Chevron Philips Chemical Company SettlementNovember 17, 2010Hilder & Associates, P.C. announce a $2 Million settlement in a law suit against Chevron Phillips Chemical Company. The law firm is local counsel to the National Environment Law Center and assisted representation the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. The suit, filed under the Clean Air Act, found repeated violations by Chevron Phillips Chemical of Baytown, Texas that resulted in more than a million pounds of toxic pollution. It is hoped that the settlement agreement will promote the facility to significantly reduce air emissions, force extensive operational upgrades and increase air monitoring. The $2 Million penalty will establish an Environmental Health Clinic for children to be run by Baylor College of Medicine. Hilder & Associates, P.C. was also local counsel in a similar prior matter against Shell Oil Company in 2009, where a $5.8 Million settlement was reached including the agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions at Shell’s Deer Park, Texas refinery.
5 years after indictments, DeLay’s trial beginsAP October 26, 2010 AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, one of the most polarizing politicians of the Bush years, is finally getting his day in court, five years after being charged with illegally funneling corporate money to help elect Republicans to the Texas Legislature.Philip Hilder, a Houston criminal defense attorney, said he does not believe the charges against DeLay are politically motivated.“I think it is the responsibility of the district attorney to make sure the spirit of the finance laws are complied with, to ensure fairness in the system,” said Hilder, a former federal prosecutor.
Law makes it easier to blow whistle on corporate crimeBy: Philip H. Hilder Houston Chronicle October 17, 2010Also published in the White Collar Crime Prof Blog In reaction to the Bernie Madoff scandal, Congress has offered lucrative bounties and effectively deputized millions of Americans to tell the government about insider trading, securities fraud, bribery of overseas businesses and governments and a host of financial crimes that employees may see on the job.The stakes are higher than when my client Sherron Watkins, a one-time Enron vice president, warned her bosses in 2001 about the company’s accounting scandal. She was rewarded with inquiries about how to fire her. Back then, Watkins could not have cashed in on the potential bonanza for whistleblowers established earlier this year in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.
“The Supreme Court Ruling on ‘Honest Services’ Fraud and Ramifications to the Business Community: Skilling vs. U.S. Examined” PanelOn September 23, 2010, Philip H. Hilder moderated a panel discussion “The Supreme Court Ruling on ‘Honest Services’ Fraud and Ramifications to the Business Community: Skilling vs. U.S. Examined”. The Panel examined the Supreme Court’s decision to limit prosecution for honest services fraud. The event was co-sponsored by the Federal Bar Association – Southern District of Texas Chapter, and the ABA Criminal Justice Section White Collar Crime Committee.
Special delivery for traffickersBy: Dane Schiller Houston Chronicle September 22, 2010Houston drug traffickers want the U.S. government to do their dirty work. The nation’s postal system and private mail services are regularly the unwitting couriers of illegal drugs delivered coast to coast and door to door, according to federal court records. Traffickers consider slipping drugs and cash from their sales into the mail as more efficient than using their own couriers, said attorney Philip Hilder, formerly a prosecutor in charge of the Houston office for the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Strike Force. “It is well known that it is a pretty easy, low-risk operation to either ship fairly small amounts of dope and/or money – illegal proceeds – through (the mail),” Hilder said.Download.pdf
Risk-reward equation was used in building oil well in Gulf of Mexico, BP worker testifies
photo: AP, ReutersBy: David Hilzenrath, Joel Achenbach AP. Washington Post August 27, 2010 Cocales said he was weighing engineering risks associated with alternative approaches, and he thought less risk was associated with the course BP took. At the time, he said, he thought the “worst-case scenario” was that BP would have to do remediation work on the well, not that safety would be jeopardized, he testified Friday.Download.pdf
Philip Hilder assists firm client Brett Cocales at Coast Guard and Interior Department hearing, August 27, 2010.