Justice Department's trustbuster a hired gun with Mickey Mouse ears

Nicholas Carlson · 09/15/08 11:40AM

Who is Sandy Litvack, the lawyer that the Justice Department hired last week, in a move which most believe mean the trustbusters are planning to break up Google's deal to sell ads on Yahoo? Litvack's resume might give Google's lawyers reason to sweat. If it takes a monopolist to catch a monopolist, Litvack's perfect for the job. At Disney, he was CEO Michael Eisner's right-hand man when the company went on its most aggressive acquisition binge ever. He masterminded Disney's purchase of the ABC television network, which was the Google-DoubleClick deal of its day. And Litvack is a guy who likes to take a case to trial.Litvack is a litigator first and foremost, says John Shenefield, the former head of the DOJ's antitrust unit who first hired Litvack in 1980. "He liked to litigate. He liked the rough and tumble, whereas some people who had served in that position liked to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts," Shenefield told CNET. "During a Christmas party, there was a skit and the person playing Sandy said, 'Fundamentally, I'm a litigator,' and everyone in the room knew exactly what he meant," another DOJ source said. Some say Litvack likes to go to court too much, even when the laws he's prosecuting don't make sense. Along with being credited with building the case that broke up AT&T, Litvack is also known for prosecuting laws that, according to CNET, forbade "a manufacturer to have an agreement with a reseller that prohibited them from reselling a product at a higher or lower price than expressly stated in the contract." The Supreme Court eventually decided such laws were themselves anticompetitive and struck them down.

Here comes the Google antitrust case

Nicholas Carlson · 09/10/08 10:00AM

The Justice Department is probably going to bring an antitrust suit against Google, experts are beginning to say. Yesterday, the department hired former Disney superlawyer Sandy Litvack to take a closer look at Yahoo's deal to outsource search to Google. “They wouldn’t bring in a special counsel unless they were preparing to litigate,” says Sam Miller, the lawyer who defended Microsoft's antitrust trial. Former FCC official Blair Levin agrees. Levin wrote in a Stifel Nicholas research note yesterday that "the hiring of a lawyer with this kind of background is far more rare, and, in our memory, the times when this has happened the Department brought a case." The irony: if the U.S. does win the case against Google, it won't be the search giant which feels the most pain. Yahoo would lose $250 million to $450 million in cash it's counting on raking in.

E-gold founders plead guilty to money laundering

Alaska Miller · 07/22/08 02:40PM

E-gold and the online money-transfer site's three owners have reached a deal with the Department of Justice to plea guilty to charges of conspiracy to engage in money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money-transmitting business. The company now faces fines of up to $3.7 million, along with an agreed-on forfeiture of $1.75 million in funds. Douglas Jackson, one of the owners, could face a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine of $500,000 on one of the conspiracy charges, and a sentence of five years and a fine of $250,000 on the other. His co-owners, Barry Downey and Reid Jackson, each face a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $25,000. E-gold, a survivor of the first dotcom boom, says it has about 3 million registered accounts, facilitating about $10 million in transactions a day.