David Schindler graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983 with a BA degree. He studied at the University of California, Los Angeles, law school and earned his JD degree in 1987. After a successful career as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the federal prosecutor's office, he joined the law firm Latham and Watkins in 1999.

He is a partner in the Los Angeles office, and is a member and Co-Chair of the firm's White Collar and Government Investigations Practice Group. His practice focuses on the defense of white collar and government investigations, health care fraud and abuse, intellectual property, e-commerce, business litigation and civil litigation. He is a President of the House of Justice [1].

Notable CasesEdit

Justin Tanner PetersenEdit

Petersen, aka Agent Steal, was arrested in Texas in 1991, where he lived briefly. An FBI affidavit reveals fear that Petersen could have been eavesdropping on law enforcement investigations. The affidavit says Petersen admitted "conducting illegal telephone taps" and breaking into Pacific Bell's COSMOS computer program, which allows the user to check telephone numbers and determine the location of telephone lines and circuits.[1]

A grand jury in Texas returned an eight-count indictment against Petersen, accusing him of assuming false names, accessing a computer without authorization, possessing stolen mail and fraudulently obtaining and using credit cards. The case was later transferred to California and sealed, out of concern for Petersen's safety, authorities said. The motion to seal states that Petersen, "acting in an undercover capacity, currently is cooperating with the United States in the investigation of other persons in California."

Petersen eventually pleaded guilty to six counts, including rigging a radio station contest with a $20,000 prize. He faced a sentence of up to 40 years in jail and a $1.5-million fine, but the sentencing was delayed several times while, Petersen continued working for the government. Petersen said the FBI was paying him $600 a month "to help them track down hackers." These hackers include Kevin Mitnick, aka Condor, and Dark Dante, whose real name is Kevin Poulsen.

Then on Oct. 18, 1993, 15 months after entering his first guilty plea, Petersen was confronted outside federal court by Schindler, Assistant US Attorney for the prosecution, who asked if he had been committing any crimes while on bail. Petersen said he had, according to Schindler. Petersen met briefly with his attorney, then walked right out of the court house and became a fugitive. Attorney Richard Sherman, who was representing a friend of Mitnick's in another hacker case, had accused the FBI of not only actively using Petersen as an informant, but also of turning a blind eye to Petersen's alleged crimes during the time he was in their care. The crimes involve alleged credit card fraud. In a May 19 letter to US. Attorney Gen. Janet Reno, Sherman said three agents in Los Angeles engaged "in a course of conduct which is illegal and contrary to bureau policy" in handling Petersen. "It is factually incorrect that we allowed Mr. Petersen to commit crimes," said Schindler.

In his book [2], Jonathan Littman linked Petersen's sealed Texan court case [3] with the Church of Scientology, which contracted him to eavesdrop on the Aznarans, who were high ranking ex-Scientologists living in Texas. The Aznarans were then cooperating with Richard Behar in the writing of the highly critical 1991 Time Magazine cover story.[4]. Vicki and Richard Aznarans left the church under circumstances that they describe as involving duress. They filed a complaint against Scientology alleging false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress and other tortious conduct. [5] With the Fair Game (Scientology) written in their scripture, the Church has sued and counter-sued many of their [critics | Critics of Scientology], and even resorted to illegal means to silence them, such as Operation Freakout. Operation Snowwhite is the biggest infiltration of US government in history. The Aznaran case was one of the on going lawsuits that was reported on the Church's IRS 1023 Tax Exempt Application. The Church was granted tax-exempt status in 1993 under a puzzling confidential agreement, a sudden turn around after 25 years.[6]

Kevin Lee PoulsenEdit

Kevin Poulsen, aka Dark Dante, was arrested by the FBI after a 17-month man hunt, on April 1991. He was charged, under Federal computer crime and telecommunications fraud laws, with repeated burglary of the offices of the Pacific Bell Telephone Company, stealing manuals, gear and access codes to enable him to eavesdrop on telephone users, including two Pacific Bell security investigators who were investigating the hackers.[7] Poulsen was also indicted on stealing a classified military document, the first use of Federal espionage charges against a computer hacker. Poulsen was charged with obtaining the military document in February 1988, when he was working for Sun Microsystems, which was contracted at Fort Bragg to develop a battlefield computer system. The act of simply obtaining classified information is a violation of espionage laws.[7] Schindler negotiated a plea agreement in which Poulsen admitted computer fraud, obstruction of justice and money-laundering. [8]Poulsen was convicted of computer crimes, seizing control of the phone lines at a radio station to win a Porsche and trips to Hawaii. He was given the harshest hacker sentence ever: four years in prison, a US $58,000 fine, and a ban from using computers for three years after his release.[9]

Kevin David MitnichEdit

Kevin Mitnick (aka Condor), who pleaded guilty to a series of federal offenses related to a 2½-year computer hacking spree, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison. Mitnick pleaded guilty in March 1999 to four counts of wire fraud, two counts of computer fraud and one count of illegally intercepting a wire communication. Mitnick's prolific and damaging hacking career, which made him the most wanted computer criminal in United States history, was ended when he was arrested in North Carolina in February 1995.

Although the many victims of Mitnick's conduct suffered millions of dollars in damages resulted from lost licensing fees, marketing delays, lost research and development, and repairs made to compromised computer systems, Judge Pfaelzer ordered Mitnick to pay only totaling just over $4,125. 

The sentencing brought to a close an investigation that started in 1992 when Mitnick, then a fugitive, commenced an unprecedented series of computer intrusions and electronic thefts from technology companies throughout the United States and the world. His combined sentence of 68 months incarceration was then the longest sentence given to any computer hacker. [10]

John Fife Symington IIIEdit

John Symington, Arizona Governor 1991-97, was accused of falsely inflating his true net worth to get more loans, and then reporting himself as poorer than he was to have loans forgiven. In his closing argument to the jury, Schindler, the lead prosecutor, said, “What Mr. Symington did was no different from any other con artist. [11]

The investigation lasted five years. After a 17-week trial that involved more than 1,400 pieces of evidence, the jury convicted Mr. Symington of filing false financial statements to shore up his crumbling real estate business. The convictions involved Symington's biggest projects, the Camelback Esplanade hotel and shopping complex that contains the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Phoenix, and the Mercado, a Mexican-style shopping complex in downtown Phoenix.

In the Esplanade project, the jury found that Mr. Symington made false statements in the early 1990's to the Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank of Japan, to avoid being declared in default. Mr. Symington sent the bank a letter falsely claiming a net worth of $5.3 million when he was $4.1 million in the red, as shown in another statement. On the Mercado project, the jury found that in the late 1980's Mr. Symington won loans from a group of Arizona pension funds by repeatedly filing false financial statements.

Symington was convicted on a total of seven felony counts of defrauding his lenders as a commercial real estate developer. Under Arizona law, he was forced to resign. In an impromptu news conference after the verdict, Schindler said, “We're always pleased when justice is done”.

Symington's conviction was overturned by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on 1999.[12]

Church of ScientologyEdit

Reed Slatkin, once an ordained minister in the Church of Scientology, and a founder of the Internet service provider EarthLink, pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of nearly $600 million over 15 years. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison and to pay more than $240 million in restitution to clients of his fund management business.[13] According to the authorities, Slatkin led a long-running Ponzi scheme in which money from some investors was used to pay off others. [14]

Slatkin used both his Scientology connection and his business success in EarthLink to attract investors from inside and outside of the church. Slatkin pleaded for leniency claiming that he had been acting under “duress and diminished capacity” during the investment scam because of his membership in the Church of Scientology. Slatkin's attorney, Frederick Friedman, claimed that "every single aspect of his life was controlled by Scientology." According to Friedman, some of the money generated from victims went to Scientology members, who then made millions of dollars of donations to the church. “Mr. Slatkin felt a 'dread' of what the church might do if that money flow stopped”, said Friedman.[15] Slatkin maintained that his actions were motivated in part by threats from other church members, because fellow Scientologists pressured him to continue paying them profits. [14]

The Church of Scientology International was represented by Schindler, who said "was outrageous for him [Slatkin] to suggest that the church in any way shape or form had anything to do with his scheme." [15]

U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow rejected Slatkin's claim that he had acted under "duress and diminished capacity" because of threats from fellow Scientologists . "The church had nothing to do with the fact that he lied, cheated and stole," said Schindler after the hearing.[16]

In a settlement approved by a federal bankruptcy judge, Scientology-affiliated groups agreed to pay back $3.5 million to Slatkin's victims. According to the filings, “millions of dollars more in tainted funds were funneled through other investors to Scientology-affiliated groups”. These groups include Narconon International, the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre International and the Church of Scientology Western United States. [14]


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  12. {{cite news | last = Dougherty | first = John | coauthors = | title = Paradise lost: Does Fife Symington have the guts to finally 'fess up? | work = | pages = | language = | publisher = Phoenix New Times | date = [[July 1], 1999 | url = | accessdate = April 28, 2008 }}
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