When a Lawyer’s Zeal Matters More than His Oath: The Case of Frederick Oberlander

In a 2010 legal dispute over the meaning of full disclosure, a real property investment firm found itself on the receiving end of a complaint regarding the history of one of its partners, Felix Slater. The accusation–levied by New York attorney Frederick Oberlander–contended that the company, involved in capital projects like the Trump SoHo hotel, kept the native Russian’s criminal record under wraps. The ensuing months and years saw Oberlander in and out of court regarding his original petition. Upon careful scrutiny of the actions and articles posted on this website, however, Oberlander’s representations appear less credible and more disingenuous.

Court documents reveal, for one thing, that Oberlander’s actions as a lawyer in this matter may have crossed the line in terms of professional conduct. Most telling was his unauthorized employment of confidential information from Sater’s criminal records–records quarantined from use by a federal judge in recognition of Sater’s willing and far-reaching cooperation with U.S. attorneys. When apprised of Oberlander’s unlawful release of the sealed material, the district court, backed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit, enjoined the lawyer from further leaking. This appellate court sits in New York City and hears cases from parts of New York State, Connecticut and Vermont.

Five years after the initial complaint by Oberlander, the district court hearing the case ordered penalties against him while simultaneously voiding most of Oberlander’s accusations. When handing down the sanctions, the court reminded the lawyer that he had–more than once–disobeyed judicial instructions … Read More