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Ethics talk in court -- and at a posh retreat

January 23, 2007|Chuck Philips | Times Staff Writer

As defense attorneys accused the government of ethical breaches in the Anthony Pellicano wiretapping investigation, the lead prosecutor on Monday was lecturing defense lawyers at a posh legal retreat in Aspen, Colo., co-sponsored by the jailed sleuth's former attorney.

His topic? "Ethical Dilemmas in White-Collar Cases."

Assistant U.S. Atty. Daniel Saunders was invited to the Advanced Criminal Law Seminar, a legal forum founded 25 years ago by Victor Sherman, a lawyer who represented Pellicano until the celebrity detective was indicted in 2006 for wiretapping.

Sherman co-sponsored the seminar this year with the National Assn. of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the country's preeminent criminal defense league. The association, as it has done for previous speakers, paid for Saunders' flight to Aspen and put him up for two nights at the five-star St. Regis Resort.

Saunders has headed the wide-ranging Pellicano investigation since its inception about four years ago. At an acrimonious court hearing in Los Angeles, defense attorneys accused the government of leaking confidential recordings and documents in the case to the New York Times.

One defense attorney assailed Saunders for allegedly "fueling a media frenzy with overreaching press statements and false, repetitive claims of superseding indictments, indicating that high-profile individuals from the entertainment and legal communities will eventually be indicted."

Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in L.A., said Saunders had cleared his guest appearance with ethics officers in Washington.

"Apparently Dan Saunders' ethical standards are high enough to be appreciated by the criminal defense bar, and hence the invitation to address the organization on this delicate topic," Mrozek said.

chuck phillips@latimes.com

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