White Collar Crime & Investigations Law Update -- March 2012

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In This Issue:

"The Second Semester Begins: Outcome of High School SAT Scandal Prosecutions May Hinge Upon Privilege Issues" and "Health Care, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device Fraud Investigations-Unprecedented Developments in Federal Prosecutions"

Excerpt from "The Second Semester Begins: Outcome of High School SAT Scandal Prosecutions May Hinge Upon Privilege Issues"

The SAT cheating scandal in Nassau County underscores every school district's need for quality, proactive advice whenever a traditional school disciplinary matter may require referral to law enforcement. As the Nassau County District Attorney's arrests and press releases have pointed out, transgressions that may have previously been handled internally within a school now carry the potential for criminal prosecution. Because these investigations now tend to grow beyond original expectations, the value of having independent counsel perform investigations cannot be understated. Independent counsel reduces the risk of conflicts of interest and the costly litigation that can follow.

For that reason, a school district cannot rely on traditional advice and procedures that may box an investigation into the confines of compliance with the New York State Education Law. Sophisticated student schemes and aggressive law enforcement both create the real prospect of parallel proceedings, in which violations of school rules will also be investigated to see whether criminal statutes have been violated. What a school district must guard against is whether it makes promises to students who participate in the school disciplinary process. If a school subsequently refers cooperating students for criminal prosecution, it may open itself up to litigation when those students allege that the school violated confidentiality or disciplinary settlement terms.

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