…and I can’t blame her for being ticked.
Recall that Stanford Financial’s securities lawyer Thomas Sjoblom fed Laura Pendergest-Holt to the SEC wolves, apparently without making any attempt to warn her she might want some legal assistance of her own. Her SEC deposition, which opens with Sjoblom making it very, very clear she was going in uterly naked of her own legal advice, involves multiple layers of stupid moves for her. The Fifth Amendment is designed to protect her from the dilemma she faced.
It was not in the interest of Sjoblom’s actual client (Stanford or his companies) rthat she duck, because the SEC was demanding “Can I Get A Witness.”
I posted at some length about all this on Folo.
The ABA Journal is now reporting that Ms. Pendergest-Holt is suing Sjoblom:
Blaming a former company lawyer for the criminal case against her, an executive of Stanford Financial Group has sued the lawyer, Thomas Sjoblom, and Proskauer Rose, at which he is a partner.
“He essentially dropped her in the grease,” attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents Laura Pendergest-Holt in the malpractice case, tells Houston Chronicle. She is the company’s chief investment officer.
I do have to wonder how this lawsuit will work out for her. I’m sure the receiver is going to assert first dibs on Sjoblom, and then there is the problem of how she’s going to testify about all this in a civil case while facing criminal exposure.
The complaint has some real bombshells that confirm the impression I got from reading the earlier court documents that Sjoblom’s conduct was really out there. For instance, there’s this allegation: “Indeed, unbeknownst to Plaintiff, the night before Sjoblom met with Plaintiff to allegedly prepare her for her testimony before the SEC, Sjoblom had solicited a multi-million dollar retainer from Stanford to represent Stanford personally.”
Meanwhile, the complaint alleges, there’s lots he did not tell Ms. Pendergest-Holt: He did not advise her she might want her own lawyer. He did not advise her about her 5th Amendment right against self-incriminations. He did not advise her there were potential criminal penalties associated with SEC testimony. The complaint alleges:
Based on her meetings with Defendant Sjoblom, and based specifically on the representations he made to her prior to her recorded tesetimony before the SEC… Plaintiff reasonably and actually believed that Defendants [Sjoblom and his firm] were her assisting her [sic] as her lawyers, were representing her interesets, and were protecting her interests. In short, based on the action of Defendants, Plaintiff believed Defendants were reprsenting her interests as her attorneys in her individual capacity.
Allegedly, she talked to the SEC for “almost three hours prior to the actual start of her sworn recorded testimony” and throughout thought Sjoblom “was representing her, in her individual capacity. At some point during Plaintiff’s sworn testimony, Defendant Sjoblom checked with his office and learned that his retainer agreement called for him to represent the Stanford Group and its related companies, as well as the Stanford Group’s officers and directors– but not Plaintiff in her individual capacity.” He didn’t pass this revelation on to Ms. Pendergast-Holt.
I would find this unbelievable if I hadn’t read the deposition. It fits what happened in the deposition.
I do find it unbelievable that Ms. Pendergast-Holt was so naive about who Sjoblom was representing. On the other hand, she had a right to have him spell it out, and I can’t see how it wasn’t malpractice for him to go into these depositions without having individual counsel retained for the various officers.
Here’s her complaint.