After less than two years at Dentons, an associate stole documents after being given access by a partner and then attempted to extort money and art. He is now facing disciplinary charges. The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission’s complaint alleged ethical violations based on the criminal conduct of Michael Bernard Potere. Mr Potere pleaded guilty and was sentenced to federal prison for unauthorised computer access. The ARDC stated he violated Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) (criminal act that reflects adversely on honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness) and 8.4(c) (dishonestly, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation). Disciplinary proceedings are also pending in California.
Wine and Wire taps
He was an associate in Dentons’ Los Angeles office from 2015 until June 2017, during which time he was given access to a partner’s emails and downloaded confidential firm documents, including partner documents, client lists and billing information. The firm had denied his request to continue working there until he started a graduate programme, so he arranged a meeting with two partners, brought along two bottles of wine and informed them about the downloaded documents. Mr Potere demanded $210,000 and a specific piece of artwork, or he would send the documents to a legal website Abovethelaw. Dentons contacted the FBI and the partners were wired for a second meeting with Mr Potere.