Michael Potere threatened to leak confidential info to a legal blog, according to court papers
A young lawyer at Dentons has been charged with extortion after he allegedly threatened to leak sensitive information to a popular legal blog if the firm didn’t cough up $210,000 (£160,000).
According to an affidavit (criminal complaint) filed with the Central District Court of California, Michael Potere told partners back in March that he intended to leave the firm to pursue a postgraduate degree in political science.
Potere, who had been at the global giant’s Los Angeles office for about two years, asked if he could continue working within the firm’s litigation department until his course started in the autumn. Dentons, the world’s largest law firm by headcount, rejected his request and said he would have to clear his desk on 1 June.
Again according to the affidavit linked above and embedded below, Potere allegedly went ahead and accessed a partner’s email account and downloaded “confidential and sensitive documents”. The young associate, who completed a masters at the London School of Economics in 2008, had been given access to the account last year as part of a deal the pair were working on.
Astonishingly, the junior associate then apparently “demanded” around £160,000 and (as if this story wasn’t already bizarre enough) a piece of artwork on display near his office.
The affidavit claims the 32-year-old then said he would send the sensitive information over to legal blog Above The Law — a bit like a US version of Legal Cheek — if the partners didn’t play ball.
Potere, who is no longer at the firm, was arrested by FBI agents last week and charged with extortion. In a statement released by Dentons, the firm said:
Dentons understands that Michael Potere, formerly an associate in our Los Angeles office, is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation. We are cooperating with law enforcement and, as we do at all times, we have taken appropriate and necessary steps to protect the safety of our employees, the confidentiality of our clients, and the property of our firm.
Read the affidavit in full below:
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