Jeffrey Wertkin seemingly had it all. At 41, he was a partner at the powerhouse law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. He came to the firm after a successful career as a corporate fraud prosecutor. He had one more thing, however, that his colleagues were not aware of. He had the non-public files of sealed lawsuits by whistleblowers. His intention was to use the pilfered files to sell his inside information and services to companies. He is now likely going to jail. When the undercover agent told him that he was under arrest, he simply said “My life is over.”
This unbelievable story culminated in a bizarre scene where Wertkin was arrested wearing a wig and fake mustache while trying to sell a sealed lawsuit for $310,000 to a Silicon Valley high-tech company. He will plead guilty on charges of obstructing justice and transporting stolen property. That would seem a generous reduction of counts given his conduct. He not only stole the files and spent months working on his criminal scheme, but after his arrest, he returned to Akin Gump and destroyed evidence in his office and on his computer.
What is incredible is how stupid he was in hatching this scheme to make money for himself and Akin Gump. With a second company, he actually mailed an employee the cover sheet in the federal case to show he had the files. Who in their right mind would take that bait and not call the FBI? The employee did not know Wertkin or the source and yet Wertkin risked it all to sell the stolen files.
These files appear qui tam lawsuits under the False Claims Act brought by whistleblowers.
Wertkin is from an affluent family in New York and graduated from Haverford College in 1998 and earned a law degree and a master’s degree in government from Georgetown University. He is married with a young son and a daughter.