Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Those of you who have been following our years-long coverage of what’s become known as the Chevron Shakedown are probably already familiar with Steven Donziger. He’s the New York attorney who worked with a corrupt court in Ecuador and several environmental groups in the United States to achieve a bogus judgment against the energy giant valued in the billions of dollars. That fell apart completely under court scrutiny and instead of winding up with a huge payday, Donziger found himself on the losing end of a RICO trial in New York.
Now, adding insult to injury, that same court has come back and determined that someone does indeed need to pay. But it’s not Chevron. Saying that, “the case is over save for the matters of costs and attorney fees,” the presiding judge brought down the hammer on Donziger for the cost of the massive court fees incurred. And he brought it down hard. (The Amazon Post)
The cost of fraud just went up for Steven Donziger.
A U.S. federal court in New York has ordered Donziger, mastermind of the Ecuadorian racketeering and fraud scheme against Chevron Corp., to pay the company $813,603 for his share of court fees from his 2013 RICO trial.
In a 49-page opinion last week, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who presided over the RICO proceeding, reiterated that “Donziger and his co-conspirators attempted to extort billions of dollars from Chevron” through falsified evidence, bribery, coercion and the ghostwriting of a $19 billion court judgment against the company in Ecuador. The RICO ruling, which was unanimously affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals, granted Chevron the right to recover the costs of the action.
Last Wednesday, the court rejected all Donziger’s arguments for not paying as baseless or unsupported by evidence, adding he was not entitled to favorable court “discretion” due to his “repeated” and “egregious misconduct” and “outrageous behavior” throughout the case.
From the accounts given of the hearing, it sounds like Donziger’s team attempted to relitigate the RICO trial and the original rulings but the judge was having none of it. The case was closed. The only review required was a summary of the things Donziger was found to have done during the attempt to rob Chevron of billions of dollars. It wasn’t a pretty list.
- Blackmailed a judge to abandon judicial inspections and appoint a “global expert;”
- Corrupted the “expert,” Richard Cabrera;
- Wrote Cabrera’s report;
- Falsely passed off Cabrera’s report as the work of an independent, impartial expert;
- Ghostwrote former Judge Nicolas Zambrano’s $19 billion judgment “which demonstrably relied on the fraudulent Cabrera report.”
Steven Donziger had some big dreams. He took on clients in Ecuador who thought Chevron would just pay them off to shut up and go away and he would have cashed in handsomely on the deal. When it became obvious they would have to win in court, the group apparently thought it was such a slam dunk that foreign investment firms put up money to cover the court costs in exchange for a cut of the expected loot. (They have all dropped out and surrendered their “shares” to Chevron.) Rather than making billions, Donziger now has to fork over nearly a million dollars to the company they were trying to shake down.
That probably isn’t a drop in the bucket compared to what Chevron had to pay in legal costs to fight off these thieves. But in the end, I’m guessing the satisfaction of thwarting this plot was worth the cost. And it just might send a message to others who are tempted to try something similar.