As highlighted in this previous post, the DOJ’s prosecution of Joseph Sigelman came to an abrupt halt early in the trial after the DOJ’s star witness admitted to giving false testimony on the stand.
As further evidence of the DOJ’s failures, earlier today federal court judge Joseph Irenas (D.N.J.) refused to sentence Sigelman to any jail time after Sigelman agreed to a plea agreement involving substantially reduced charges.
Sigelman’s defense team (Sigelman was represented by Quinn Emanuel Urquhardt & Sullivan LLP, William Burck led the defense team with his partners, William Price and Juan Morillo) issued a release which states in full as follows.
“Today Judge Joseph Irenas, Federal District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey, gave Joseph Sigelman probation and no jail time. This followed on the heels of DOJ’s sudden decision to drop five and a half of six charges against Mr. Sigelman including the most serious charges. The Government’s decision appears driven in large part by an admission last Thursday by the Government’s star witness, Gregory Weisman, that he made false statements to the jury during his testimony. It also follows the admission by the only other witness presented thus far, an FBI Agent assigned to the investigation, that the Colombian citizen at the center of the prosecution’s case was allowed to leave the United States to his native Colombia without facing arrest or any charges from the Government. Indeed, he was permitted to go to Disney World while Mr. Sigelman faced indictment.
Mr. Sigelman’s plea speaks for itself. He recognizes that he failed as a manager to provide stringent oversight of some of his colleagues and employees at PetroTiger. He takes full responsibility for his perosnal failures, including to ensure that all employees at PetroTiger always acted with the highest integrity. Mr. Sigelman has expressed deep regret for not instituting more quickly and forcefully a compliance regime. Such a regime would have prevented any payments that were not appropriate in the then-two-year old PetroTiger, a company he co-founded that grew organically and through rapid acquisitions of existing companies.
In sentencing Mr. Sigelman, Judge Irenas chastised the Government for asserting that a one-year prison term was the only correct sentence. He rejected the Government’s position as contrary to the plea agreement negotiated between the Government and Mr. Sigelman’s lawyers — and most importantly contrary to the interests of justice. Judge Irenas further noted that Mr. Sigelman has employed thousands of people and will continue to do a great deal of good in society, and that Mr. Sigelman is less likely to commit an offense in the future than any other defendant he has seen in his more than two decades on the bench. Mr. Sigelman is now free to continue his career as an entrepreneur.
Mr. Burck said: “Joe has been through hell. He accepts full responsibility for his role in all of this. But the government made the right call in agreeing to a very generous plea deal. It gives certainty to Joe and his family, and saves the Government from a potentially embarrassing loss at trial. We thank Judge Irenas for the extraordinary thought and care he brought to every aspect of this case, and ultimately his mercy in sentencing Joe to no jail time, which is the most just result.”
Mr. Price added: “We are delighted with the result of this deal and believe that all parties can now move on with their respective endeavors. Mr. Sigelman’s case highlights the unique challenges that building a start-up company in a foreign land can pose even above the normal chaos of a fast-growing company. We are deeply grateful to Judge Irenas and the devoted members of the jury who dedicated their time, energy and attention to this case.”