2009 Archives

A Quiet Hell

By: Chris Vogel

Published December 17, 2009 Houston Press

Houston Press cover story week of December 17, 2009, special report: A Quite Hell. The report cites to lax enforcement by Texas authorities allowing plants along the Houston ship channel to launch tons of toxic gases into the air and face little penalty, even when they exceed pollution limits on a continuous basis. The law firm of Hilder & Associates, P.C. is one of the plaintiffs’ counsel that filed a citizen’s suit against Chevron Phillips Chemical under the Clean Air Act to hold the company accountable for pollution that they cause.

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Imperial Sugar won’t discuss its year-long probe of 2008 Port Wentworth refinery disaster

Published: November 11, 2009 Savanna Morning News

In October 2008, Imperial Sugar Co.’s board of directors assigned a committee to investigate last year’s deadly inferno at its local plant. More than a year later, Imperial won’t say whether the committee has filed a report, reached any conclusions – or even met.

The panel was told to look into the Feb. 7, 2008, explosions and fire that killed 14 people and injured many more at Imperial’s Port Wentworth refinery. Philip Hilder, a lawyer for several present or former company officials, said any conclusions the panel reaches are “essentially irrelevant.” He noted that investigations by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Chemical Safety Board have concluded. Both agencies blamed Imperial for the disaster.

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Former Sheriff Gets More Time at Home

KRGV October 28, 2009

Starr County’s former sheriff will get more time locked down at home, rather than in a prison cell.

Reymundo Guerra’s lawyer, Philip Hilder, tells us Guerra was expected to begin his prison sentence today. The ex-sheriff was sentenced to more than

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Former Imperial exec says Imperial quit shutting down local plant for annual upkeep

Published: October 26, 2009 Savanna Morning News

Imperial Sugar Co. quit shutting down its local plant for annual upkeep because it cost too

much, a former Imperial executive says. Graham Graham testified this summer in connection with a federal investigation of the deadly Feb. 7, 2008, inferno at Imperial’s Port Wentworth refinery. Maintenance and housekeeping are key issues in legal battles stemming from the disaster, which killed 14 people and hurt many more. Since July 2008, Graham has leveled many accusations against Imperial, which in turn has waged a campaign aimed at discrediting him. Graham said he didn’t know when the practice was discontinued, but believed it was “a number of years” before he joined Imperial in late 2007. His attorney, Philip Hilder, said last week the most recent extended shutdown probably was “three or four years” earlier.

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Fourth Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud

October 15-16, 2009 Ritz Carlton Washington, D.C.

Philip Hilder co chaired the Fourth National Annual Institute on Securities Fraud held at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C. On October 15th, Philip Hider moderated the opening session of the second day of the National Institute on Securities Fraud pertaining to the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA). Among the panelist was Mark Mendelsohn, Deputy Chief of US DOJ Fraud Section-Criminal Division, and Rose Romero, SEC Texas Regional Director.

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ABC 13 Interview: Jeff Skilling’s Appeal to be heard by Supreme Court

ABC 13 Interview: Jeff Skilling's Appeal to be heard by Supreme Court Philip Hilder was asked to provide analysis regarding the Supreme Courts decision to hear argument on former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling’s appeal. Mr. Hilder represented the Enron whistleblower, Sherron Watkins, in the legal proceedings relating to the Enron collapse

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Enron Interview

KTRH Radio Houston October 9, 2009

KTRH Radio Houston interviewed Philip H. Hilder for his analysis to the news that former Enron employees may receive disbursements of $23 million retrieved from executive bonuses distributed shortly before the Enron collapse. KTRH carried the interview live on its morning news show. Mr. Hilder represented Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistleblower, during the collapse.

Autopsy errors one more troubling trend

Published: October 6, 2009, Houston Chronicle

This Houston Chronicle spotlights cases that are problematic in the criminal justice system, particularly the Larry Swearingen case. Mr. Swearingen, represented by Hilder & Associates, P.C., is seeking relive from the death row for a murder conviction based in part on the erroneous testimony of the former Harris County Medical Examiner.

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Deadline for ex-sheriff’s prison term pushed back

Published: September 28, 2009 The Monitor

Former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra will have one more month before he must turn himself in to start his prison term. The ex-lawman was supposed to surrender to authorities Monday. But a U.S. district court judge postponed the date because the federal Bureau of Prisons has still not designated the facility where Guerra will serve out his sentence, his attorney Phillip Hilder said. Because he was a law enforcement official, special considerations must be made when deciding where to place him, Hilder said. Putting him in the general population of a prison with violent criminal offenders could make him a target for attacks and endanger his safety. “That’s just one of many factors the bureau has to take into account,” he said.

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Man condemned for drug dealer’s slaying set to die

Published: September 16, 2009 AP/ Star Telegram

Convicted killer Stephen Moody was headed to the Texas death chamber Wednesday evening for a lethal injection for the shooting death of a Houston man during a robbery 18 years ago. Moody, 52, asked that no last-minute appeals be filed to try to block his execution, the 17th this year in the nation’s busiest death penalty state. “We have to kind of sit on our hands,” Moody’s lawyer, Philip Hilder, said. “We wouldn’t be normally doing that, but it is his wishes.”

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Standford to be represented by public defense

Published: September 15, 2009 ABC 13

Standford to be represented by public defenseFormer federal prosecutor Philip Hilder says. “The problem comes in that the public defender’s office won’t have the proper resources in which to adequately defend a case like this,” said Hilder.

Man condemned for drug dealer’s slaying set to die

Published: September 15, 2009 AP, Houston Chronicle

After more than 15 years on Texas death row, Stephen Moody has had

enough. He’s ready to die. “I understand the consequence of my crime,” Moody, 52, said recently from a tiny visiting cage outside death row. “I made the decision to put myself here … I don’t blame my situation on anybody but myself.” “It is his wishes and we have to honor them,” his

lawyer, Philip Hilder, said.

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Fourth Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud

October 15-16, 2009 Ritz Carlton Washington, D.C.

The end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 saw the financial markets collapse and administration change hands. Ponzi schemes are back, the FCPA is still hot, good old fashioned financial fraud seems unending, and the drumbeat for more prosecutions, stricter enforcement and stiffer penalties has never been louder. In response, the new teams at DOJ and SEC are already demonstrating renewed vigor and gearing up for aggressive enforcement in an effort to restore investor confidence. Gain valuable insights from the very best in the profession: judges, prosecutors, regulators, academics, compliance officers, and defense counsel, including Philip H. Hilder. Find out about what to expect next and how to prepare for these new developments in the ever present, headline-making area of securities fraud. The Fourth Annual National Institute on Securities Fraud will provide an in-depth, cutting-edge, and rewarding educational experience for all practitioners. Mr. Hilder is a member of the planning committee as well as a participant for this event.

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Attorneys: Imperial Sugar Fired Key Witness

Published: September 11, 2009 Savanna Morning News

Imperial Sugar Co. fired a key witness shortly before she was due to testify about last year’s deadly disaster at its local plant, two lawyers say. The issue surfaced Thursday in Chatham Plaintiffs attorney Brent Savage said Imperial axed deputy counsel Courtney McCaslin in May because she wouldn’t fire her lawyer, Philip Hilder. Hilder said McCaslin told him she was ousted because she refused to fire Hilder. She was given a letter that stated that reason for her dismissal, Hilder said, adding that he was “not at liberty” to release it.

“They didn’t want her to have independent counsel,” he said. Hilder said McCaslin – involved in safety issues at Imperial – hired him last summer. “She said she wanted counsel not from the company,” Hilder said. Hilder specializes in whistle-blower cases. He represents former Imperial executive Graham Graham, who testified against the company last summer in a U.S. Senate hearing. Graham also is a witness in the lawsuits and in an action against the company by the U.S.

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Stanford executive pleads guilty to charges associated with alleged fraud

Published: August 28, 2009 Irish Times

James Davis, the second-highest ranking executive at the Stanford Financial Group, yesterday

pleaded guilty to charges connected with alleged $7 billion (€4.9 billion) fraud at the group.

Mr Davis (60), who made the plea in a co-operation agreement with authorities, was subdued as he pleaded “guilty, your honor” to three felony counts, including fraud and obstruction. He agreed to forfeit $1 billion. The charges against him carry a maximum prison term of 30 years.

Philip Hilder, who represented Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, said the authorities were “hanging a carrot” over Mr. Davis, implying “the more he co-operates, the more time he will get off'”. Mr. Davis will not be sentenced until the case against Sir Allen has been tried, according to Mr. Hilder, so the authorities can judge how well he co-operated. Sir Allen has pleaded not guilty to all the allegations against

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Interview with Philip Hilder on sentencing of Rey Guerra

Published: August 28, 2009 Action 4 News

Interview with Philip Hilder on sentencing of Rey GuerraGuerra walked out of the Federal Courthouse in McAllen after being sentenced to five years and four months in prison. Philip H. Hilder, Guerra’s defense attorney, says Guerra accepted his responsibility and accepted the fact that he crossed the line and he is prepared to pay the price for that. “I think things went extremely well,” Hilder told Action 4 News. “The sheriff is satisfied with the sentence given by the court and I’m satisfied as well that justice has been done. “The sentence comes after the 52-year old lawman pleaded guilty back in May to conspiring to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances.

Texas drug ring members sentenced to prison include sheriff, teacher

Published: August 28, 2009 The Associated Press

A former South Texas sheriff, represented by Philip Hilder, and a Houston elementary school teacher were among 11 people sentenced to prison Thursday for their role in a conspiracy that moved marijuana and cocaine from Mexico, through Houston and as far as Delaware.

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Ex-sheriff handed 5 years in prison

Published: August 28, 2009 Express News

Former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo Guerra was sentenced Thursday to five years and four months in federal prison for helping Gulf Cartel operatives move marijuana and cocaine through his remote border county. “The sheriff was satisfied with the sentence,” said defense attorney Philip Hilder. “As the judge said, even though he was high-profile, he had a minor role.”

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Ex-sheriff sentenced to five years for role in drug smuggling plot

Published: August 27, 2009 The Monitor

Reymundo “Rey” Guerra, represented by Philip Hilder, pleaded guilty to one count of drug trafficking conspiracy in May. The 52-year-old lawman – who resigned his post after his arrest – admitted to leaking sensitive law enforcement intelligence and bungling his own department’s investigations in exchange for cash payments from one of Miguel Alemán’s top narcotics smugglers. Guerra’s 64-month sentence falls below the eight to 10 years recommended under federal sentencing guidelines, but Crane justified the departure by noting the minor role the sheriff played in the overall drug trafficking network and his willingness to aid federal investigators after his arrest.

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Filling the gap: When the state won’t take on a dirty job

Published: August 23, 2009 Houston Chronicle

The Houston Chronicle published this favorable opinion piece concerning Hilder & Associates clients, the Sierra Club and Environment Texas. These clients filed suit against Chevron Phillips Chemical to reduce emissions of air toxics at its Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown. In court filings, the groups claim that since 2003 the plant has illegally released more than a million pounds of toxic, carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Most of the releases occurred during so-called “upsets,” which occur during startups, shutdowns, and other non-routine activities.

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Groups Sue to Reduce Admissions

Published: August 20, 2009 Houston Chronicle

On behalf of our clients, The Sierra Club and Environmental Texas, Hilder & Associates, P.C., along with the Environmental Defense Law Center, filed suit against Chevron Phillips alleging illegal pollution from “upset” events at its Cedar Bayou chemical plant in Baytown, Texas.

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Environmental Groups Sue Chevron Phillips Over Texas Plant

Published: August 19, 2009 CNN Money

Environmental Groups Sue Chevron Phillips Over Texas PlantEnvironmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Chevron Phillips Chemical Company LLC alleging that its Cedar Bayou chemical plant near Houston has repeatedly violated the Clean Air Act. The Sierra Club and Environment Texas claimed the Baytown, Texas, plant has released more than a million pounds of excess air pollutants since 2003. The two sides plan to meet to discuss a settlement, said Philip Hilder, one of the attorneys representing the environmentalists. However, there is no guarantee that an agreement will be reached, Hilder said.

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Philip Hilder and Mark Zachary of Countrywide on Larry King Live

Aired July 15, 2009

Philip Hilder and client Mark Zachary, former Regional V.P. Countrywide, appeared on Larry King Live to discuss so-called ‘liar-loans” and other allegations against Countrywide.

Psychologist’s Fraud Arrest May Affect Trials He Testified In

Published: July, 14 2009 Hair Balls Blog

Matthew Leddy, a local psychologist, was arrested late last month for theft and Medicaid fraud, accused of billing for work that he didn’t perform, according to articles in the Houston

Chronicle and the Conroe Courier. The articles don’t mention, however, that Leddy was working for the Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County and testified in criminal trials. “We maintain that he’s innocent of the charges, and we intend to prove that, “Hilder tells Hair Balls. “We think that the government’s charges are reckless.”

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Feds strike at Medicare fraud in Houston Area

Published: July 12, 2009 Houston Chronicle

A Woodlands psychologist, Dr. Matthew Hamilton Leddy, turned himself into Montgomery County authorities the same day, accused of falsely billing for services for 67 patients that were never performed. Leddy, was released on $110,000 bond. His attorney, Philip Hilder of Houston, calls the Medicare fraud charges “outrageous,” saying investigators are relying on statements from individuals with psychological problems.

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Psychologist Facing Medicaid Fraud

Published: July 1, 2009 Conroe Courier

A Woodlands psychologist is facing felony charges for Medicaid fraud and aggregate theft, but his attorney calls the allegations “outrageous.”

Dr. Matthew Hamilton Leddy, 51, allegedly defrauded Medicaid by billing for unperformed services for more than 60 patients, according to his indictments handed down by a Montgomery County grand jury June 18. The names listed in the indictment are all patients of Leddy, who practices in the Houston metropolitan area, said Phillip Hilder, Leddy’s attorney. Hilder denies the allegations by Medicaid and insists on Leddy’s innocence.

“The allegations are reckless and irresponsible, and we intend to vigorously fight these outrageous claims,” Hilder said.

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More Indictments in Stanford Case: ABC interview with Philip Hilder

ABC Aired June 19, 2009

HOUSTON — Brash Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford was indicted and jailed Friday on charges his international banking empire was really just a Ponzi scheme built on lies, bluster and bribery. The Justice Department announced charges against Stanford and six others who allegedly helped the tycoon run a $7 billion swindle. At a court hearing in Richmond, Va., a federal judge agreed with prosecutors that Stanford poses a flight risk and ordered him to remain in custody until a future detention hearing in Houston. ABC 13 News interviews attorney Philip Hilder for his expert opinion on the case.

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Philip Hilder is named a Top Lawyer for the Houston Area

June 2009

H Magazine has, once again, featured Philip H. Hilder in it Houston Area Top Attorneys issue. This is the seventh year in a row that Mr. Hilder has been recognized as a Houston Area Top Attorney.

Philip Hilder is named a Texas Super Lawyer

May 2009

Based on a statewide selection process, review of his credentials, and the evaluation of his peers, Philip Hilder has been selected as a 2009 Texas Super Lawyer. This is the eighth year in a Mr. Hilder has been recognized as a Texas Super Lawyer.

National Institute on Internal Corporate Investigators and In-House Counsel

May 6-8, 2009 Ritz Carlton Washington, DC

Philip Hilder gave a speech concerning whistleblowers and subtle retribution following Key Note speaker US Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr.

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Who gets tough against companies polluting in Texas? Hint: It’s not the state

Published: May 4, 2009 Houston Chronicle

Houston Chronicle Editorial supporting action taken on behalf of our clients Sierra Club and Environmental Texas to reduce emissions at a Shell Oil Co. refinery. Hilder & Associates, P.C. assisted in securing a $6 Million penalty against Shell for violation of the Clean Air Act.

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Former Starr sheriff plead guilty

Published: May 1, 2009 The Monitor

Former Starr County Sheriff Reymundo “Rey” Guerra pleaded guilty Friday to one count of drug smuggling conspiracy, a week before his case was set to head to trial. “He feels that he’s let down his family, friends and constituents.” Guerra’s attorney Philip Hilder said Friday. “He’s deeply remorseful for that.”

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Shell agrees to settle TX refinery pollution suit

Published: April 23, 2009 Reuters

“Shell began talks with the (Sierra Club and Texas Environmental Group) as soon as it heard that the lawsuit would be filed in January 2008,” said Houston attorney, Philip Hilder. ” To Shells credit, they stepped up to the plate and immediately and took responsibility for it”, Hilder said.

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Attorneys: Whistleblower faked explosion warning

Published: April 20, 2009 AP BusinessWeek

Graham, who lives in Houston, referred questions to his attorney Philip Hilder, who called the accusation “a maneuver by Imperial Sugar to continuously smear Graham Harris Graham.”

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On the borderline of good and bad

Published: April 3, 2009 Los Angeles Times

Guerra’s attorney, Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor and one-time area coordinator of the federal Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, contends that the sheriff believed Hinojosa was working for “legitimate Mexican law enforcement.”

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HMC Analyst Questions Dismissal

Published: March 31, 2009 The Harvard Crimson

Ultimately it was Philip Hilder-the lawyer who had represented the Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins in Congressional Hearings following the company’s collapse-who secured the settlement from Harvard.

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Long search looms in fraud claims

Published: March 30, 2009 Financial Times/The Peninsula

“If parties want to obscure the money trail, they can make it quite difficult,” said Philip Hilder who’s firm, Hilder & Associates, represented Sherron Watkins, the Enron whistleblower.

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Retrial for man in wife’s slaying starts Monday

Published: March 28, 2009 Houston Chronicle

“A reasonable jury could very well acquit Mr. Fratta of capital murder,” said James Rytting, who represented Fratta on appeal

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Stanford ‘Is Not Madoff’

Published: March 26, 2009 BusinessWeek

The aggressive tack being taken by DeGuerin, attorney to Allen Stanford, is not uncharacteristic. Houston attorney Philip Hilder, former federal prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer, says : “Dick is very aggressive and thorough, and he will make the government work.”

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Stanford executive claims “improper” raid

Published: March 11, 2009 Financial Times

Lawyers are debating whether the authorities will soon bring any further Stanford-related charges. “I fully anticipate you will be seeing indictments for fraud shortly,” said Philip Hilder of Hilder & Associates, P.C.

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The Stanford Group

Aired February 19, 2009 ABC Eyewitness News

Fundamentally, banks and brokers must tell you the truth. But Stanford allegedly hasn’t cooperated with investigators. “You should be able to trust what your banker tells you,” said Philip Hilder, Houston attorney. “The SEC, in this case, says that in investing public was misled.”

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Commentary: Verdict is still out on innocence as defense

Published: February 2, 2009 Houston Chronicle

“It’s a breath of fresh air coming out of the AG’s office, a fabulous development,” says James Rytting , who represents Swearingen. Rytting said the AG’s new stance could help his client who got a stay of execution from Federal Appeals Court last week based on newfound forensic evidence

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Texas Death row inmate Larry Swearingen gets 11th-hour reprieve

Published January 26, 2009 The Dallas Morning News

Several criminal pathologists say the prosecutors’ original theory-is impossible. “I am extremely relived,” said Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting. “It would be a travesty to execute someone under those circumstances.”

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Commentary: Innocent plea needs court hearing

Published: January 26, 2009 Houston Chronicle

Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, had presented evidence from several forensic scientists and physicians, including the former Harris County medical examiner whose original testimony helped convict him.

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Time is running out for inmate

Published: January 21, 2009 Houston Chronicle

In the waning days before Tuesday’s scheduled execution, Swearingen’s attorney, James Rytting, is working on a new appeal based on even more forensic evidence that he says proves his client is innocent.

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