From Andrew Bennett Spark, Assistant Attorney General, Tampa Economic Crimes
August 8, 2011
By way of introduction, I have served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Economic Crimes Division of the Florida Attorney General’s Office since March of 2004, first in Orlando, and the last 6 ½ years in Tampa. I have been reading articles concerning the controversies swirling around the Attorney General’s Office with respect to the forcedresignations of June Clarkson and Theresa Edwards (from whom I took over day-to-day handling of the ProVest investigation), and the employment of Joe Jacquot with Lender Processing Services, one of the companies at the heart of the foreclosure robo-signing issues. While I have a significantly different philosophy concerning these cases than Clarkson, Edwards, and most other homeowner advocates, the people of the State of Florida are entitled to fair and honest government, independent of personal connections and powerful interests, and I have decided to speak out.
As an important caveat, please note that the below contains various factual statements, and asks questions. If I ask a question, it is because I truly do not know the answer, not because I am implying any particular answer to the question.
II. Former Director of Economic Crimes Mary Leontakianakos now works for foreclosure law firm Marshall Watson
Joe Jacquot is not the only high-ranking recent member of the Attorney General’s Office to now be working with a company which has been the subject of one of our foreclosure investigations. Mary Leontakianakos, who was Director of Economic Crimes until approximately January 3 of this year has, according to The Florida Bar, taken a job at foreclosure firm Marshall Watson.
Document Leontakianakos was centrally involved in the foreclosure investigations while leading our Division, including the investigation of Marshall Watson:
It appears that Watson and/or Leontakianakos have been secreting her employment from the public. By using a personal email address as her contact email address rather than the Marshall Watson email address suffix MarshallWatson.com, Leontakianakos has been able to avoid search functions which would reveal her affiliation. It is through the use of email suffixes that one may search the Florida Bar’s database for former employees of the foreclosure firms under investigation. In addition, Watson has taken down the portion of his website showing the attorneys in the firm; it appears to be the only portion of his website that is inaccessible from elsewhere on the firm’s website (interestingly enough, Watson’s own attorney profile on that portion of the website is easily found directly from a Google search, and so does Caryn Graham’s, but there’s none for Leontakianakos)..
As has been widely reported, the Attorney General’s Office entered into a settlement with Marshall Watson in March of this year. A copy of the settlement agreement with Marshall Watson is found here:
Note that Paragraph 4.1 of the agreement requires Marshall Watson to name a liaison to the Attorney General’s Office. Is Mary Leontakianakos that liaison? I do not know. However, Leontakianakos’ address on The Florida Bar website is listed as Fort Lauderdale, and yet a search of the website of the Broward County Clerk of Court reveals that she has not appeared as an attorney in a lawsuit in Broward County – ever.
If Leontakianakos is that liaison, would she have been switching sides during the course of a controversy, Rule 4-1.9 of The Florida Bar states, “[a] lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter shall not thereafter:
(a) represent another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client unless the former client gives informed consent;”
Of course, the Economic Crimes Division acts in a parens patriae role as a representative of the people of the State of Florida. Consent of the people of the state cannot meaningfully be given in such a situation – and judging by the reaction of so many of people in the state the past few weeks since the Clarkson/Edwards/Jacquot story broke, it is safe to say such consent by the people would not be given even if it meaningfully could be given.
The Case Report for the investigation indicates that attorney Caryn Graham is the “point person” to contact at Watson for concerns about the AVC. According to The Florida Bar website, Graham is still with the Watson firm. Watson recently hired former Broward Chief Judge Tobin in a supervisory capacity. Indeed, the Miami Herald reported that Tobin said he would not spend much time in the courtroom.
If Leontakianakos is not actually the liaison, despite the entry about Graham in the Case Report, this begs a few questions, one of which is what, if anything, Leontakianakos is doing there?
The other question that arises is whether Leontakianakos’ hiring by Watson is connected to the settlement. The settlement agreement does not specify as such; however, I have been told by someone in my office that in another case some years back, another highranking individual with Economic Crimes received a job with a subsequent employer out of settlement proceeds from a case – and the connection between the settlement and the job was not disclosed.
Perhaps tellingly, the Attorney Geneal’s press release concerning the Watson settlement states, “The Marshall Watson firm fully cooperated with theinvestigation since its inception.”
During her tenure as Director of Economic Crimes, Leontakianakos encouraged side agreements that werecontemporaneous with but not memorialized in the formal settlement documents (“AVC”s). Perhaps as some sort of Freudian-like slip reflective of what may be in effect a golden parachute, on the Bar website Leontakianakos still describes her practice in the “Occupation” field as “Government attorney.” The Marshall Watson settlement contains an unusual provision, paragraph 6.1, requiring the Attorney General to close the investigation upon the execution by all parties. It is typical for our office to close investigations following execution, and parties do typically want the public to know that the investigation is closed; what it is unusual, however, at least in my experience, is for the settlement agreement to explicitly state as such memorializing the closing as a priority. Why the extra concern? (Interestingly enough, despite that provision, I should note that the investigation is now open – I don’t know whether it remained opened or was reopened).
THIS IS MINDBLOWING…continue below!!
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