Will Pierce Bainbridge’s Founder End Up Like Marc Dreier?

Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP founder John Pierce was warned about “ending up in jail” like disgraced lawyer Marc Dreier. While not yet suffering such a fate, Pierce and his law firm have accumulated a mountain of problems since that warning was issued, and Pierce just bizarrely called for the ousters of the Directors of the FBI & CIA.

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Convicted felon and former attorney Marc Dreier; John M. Pierce, lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse; and Pierce’s ex-client and “close friend” Rudy Giuliani

Marc Dreier was a crooked lawyer who received a 20-year prison sentence. Two years ago, former lawyer for Rudy Giuliani, John M. Pierce, was warned about following Dreier’s path and “ending up in jail.” The already embattled Pierce, has now enhanced the spotlight on his behavior by calling for the ousters of the Directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

While Pierce claimed Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP was “The Fastest Growing Law Firm in the History of the World,” the firm tanked about as fast as it shot up. The firm’s collapse brought a spotlight on Pierce, including for the firm defaulting on the repayment of a reported $65 million capital infusion from litigation financier Virage Capital, a company whose General Counsel appears to have strong professional ties to Russia. Pierce’s horrific financial circumstances were subsequently exposed in the Daily Beast, Daily Mail, USA Today and more. The negative exposure has not stopped there, Pierce has been on the receiving end of additional harsh scrutiny related to his representation of Kyle Rittenhouse and recent potential attempts to incite violence.

The “Dreier” warning, which is included in public court filings, came from an attorney for boxing legend Oscar De La Hoya; it in part stated: “Trying to do what your are doing — build a major NYC firm overnight is hugely risky because you to attract real talent. The last person who tried in in NY was Mark Dreier. He ended up in jail.”

Pierce likely did not heed the advice, as he apparently holds law enforcement in low regard. For example, as reported in the Daily Beast, Pierce declared to his firm:

“It’s so great since I’ve never been arrested or sanctioned or sued for anything. I know exactly where the line is and just get off on tipping my toe over sometimes. It’s so fun.”

On Monday night, Pierce upped the ante.

The Pierce Bainbridge founder — who’s had issues with substance abuse, taxes, debt, child support obligations and more — publicly called for the ouster of certain high-ranking national law enforcement officials:

  • Director of the CIA Gina Haspel
  • Director of the FBI Christopher Wray
  • United States National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien
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A deeper dive into the Pierce Bainbridge operations, financial arrangement with Rudy Giuliani, as well as the relationship with Virage Capital, coupled with the potential role, if any, of the Russian connections, would presumably expose a fascinating landscape.

John Pierce was warned two year ago about “ending up in jail.”

John Pierce, and all his warts, is now openly taunting the FBI and the CIA.

Will the Pierce Bainbridge founder end up like Marc Dreier?

Time will tell. Time has already told a remarkably interesting tale, as follows…

The $65 Million & The Loser Cases

The massive $65 million debt was amassed in just one year to Houston-based litigation financier Virage Capital Management. The primary purpose of the funding was to pursue litigation. Pierce Bainbridge only won 1 trial in 3-plus years with a net verdict of $500K. The firm’s failures, however, were plentiful.

  • “$1 Billion in prospective damages” lawsuit against Microsoft, nothing recovered.
  • “$50 Million” lawsuit for Tulsi Gabbard against Google, nothing recovered.
  • “$50 Million” lawsuit for Tulsi Gabbard against Hillary Clinton, nothing recovered.
  • “$50 Million” lawsuit for a Russian Oligarch, nothing recovered. (An appeal is pending.)
  • Carter Page lawsuit against the Democratic National Committee, nothing recovered.

Perhaps indicative of the firm’s operations, an article in Techdirt.com said the Gabbard lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, signed by David L. Hecht, now the boss of Hecht Partners, was “laughable” and Hecht should be “embarrassed.”

Scores of other lawsuits failed.

Red Flags, Russia & Cayman Islands

Red Flags

In addition to the continuous stream of litigation losses, Virage appears to have ignored or overlooked several additional red flags.

After infusing Pierce Bainbridge with $28.5 million in April 2019, Virage is said to have committed another over $30 million in capital in November.

By this point, six partners had recently quit the firm, most after just a few months. Pierce also had a domestic violence restraining order entered against him a few months earlier. Accusations of financial malfeasance at Pierce Bainbridge had received widespread attention, including in Forbes. A Pierce document dated a week before the infusion suggests Pierce was beyond broke and owed:

  • Over $1 million in taxes
  • $90,000 to Citibank
  • $27,000 to his ex-wife’s mother

Citibank seems odd given that the Los Angeles-based Pierce was reduced to absconding with $2.5 million from “a payday lender” at “residential address” in Flushing, Queens just this past February.

Russia

The pervasive discussion of certain Russian influences potentially corrupting the United States financial and political landscapes, renders notable the “Russian” ties of Pierce Bainbridge, Rudy Giuliani and Virage Capital.

A 2018 article in Newsweek states, “experts say Giuliani’s ties to individuals from the former Soviet Union go back decades.” A UCC filing related to the November multi-million Virage infusion is dated eight days after Giuliani announced he hired the firm.

In addition to Rudy’s “decades” of connections, the Virage Capital General Counsel, Burke McDavid, is “fluent in Russian” and has spent extensive time in the region doing work related to “alternative investments.” (McDavid appears to run the Virage show with Martin Shellist (founding partner at Shellist Labarz Sloblin LLP) and Edward Ondarza (formerly of Enron).

Pierce Bainbridge completes the triad, as firm founder John Pierce was counsel for a Russian Oligarch’s Sergey Grishin’s venture capital fund in 2016 and sometime thereafter. Grishin became a Pierce Bainbridge client in 2018, and recently followed ex-firm Los Angeles Office Managing Partner Amman Khan to Withers Bergman / Withers Worldwide.

Perhaps this all means something, perhaps not. Given, however, the massive disconnect between Pierce Bainbridge results and the multi-millions from Virage, these are interesting points to consider in trying to make sense of a situation that appears on its face to be inexplicable.

Cayman Islands

Adding intrigue is the activity of a Virage LLC in Cayman Islands, Ugland House.

There are three notable SEC filings where this entity is involved in issuing/selling securities to undisclosed investors.

  • March 7, 2019. Per an SEC filing, $73,800,000 worth of securities were sold out of an “indefinite” offering. The sale included 8 undisclosed investors.

(This is the day before UCC filings indicate that Pierce Bainbridge’s initial funder Pravati Capital declared a $9.1 million default. It is also around one month before Virage commenced its $65 million capital infusion to Pierce Bainbridge.)

  • September 23, 2019. Per an SEC filing, $282,878,489 worth of securities were sold out of an offering of $1,250,000,000. The sale included 20 undisclosed investors.
  • September 17, 2020. Per an SEC filing, 380,498,149 worth of securities were sold out of an offering of $422,374,932. The sale included 30 undisclosed investors.

The identity of the investors would presumably help clarify the picture; be that as it may, the dollar amounts, and in some respects, timing of these transactions, is of interest.

Finally, even after the disaster with Pierce Bainbridge, Virage appears to have funded Hecht Partners, where all of the partners are ex-Pierce Bainbridge, in at least the “bizarre” Boeing 737 Max litigation.

Shady at the Top

As it turns out, Virage may have gotten burned again, Hecht Partners recently bowed out of the Boeing case. Sworn deposition testimony of three Boeing plaintiffs says David L. Hecht engaged in deceit to get them as clients. An excerpt from one of the depositions is telling.

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Excerpt from the sworn deposition testimony of a plaintiff in the Boeing 737 Max Case.

The sworn accusations against Hecht perhaps align with a polluted top-down culture at Pierce Bainbridge. For example, ex-General Counsel Carolynn K. Beck has been accused of suborning perjury and spearheading fraud on a court; a motion is pending. Ex-Co-Founder James D. Bainbridge was in the crosshairs of the Federal Trade Commission earlier in his career for allegedly spearheading an $80 million telemarketing scheme on the public. Hecht has been involved in several additional dubious issues, including being accused of lying to a federal court and having a federal judge write an opinion that Hecht acted “inconsistent” with the ethical Rule of Professional Conduct on “dishonesty and misrepresentation.”

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Ex-Pierce Bainbridge name partners and ex-firm client Rudy Giuliani. Max Price is not pictured.

Pierce’s poor behavior has sunk so low that we have asked “Is John Pierce’s former Road Dog David Hecht Down on Him Too?”

Felonious Pierce Bainbridge Clients

The firm’s felonious clients check off yet another box. Pierce actually declared “clients pick PB because our DNA is precisely the same.” The civil litigation law firm represented three convicted felons — Lenny Dykstra, George Papadopoulos and Michael Avenatti — and Giuliani’s business dealings were under criminal investigation while he was with Pierce Bainbridge.

Given the DNA declaration, perhaps fittingly, Pierce, and ex-Pierce Bainbridge partners Caroline Polisi and Christopher N. LaVigne, appear with Papadopoulos in a Lincoln Project video about Donald Trump’s “felons.” The same Polisi was criticized for discussing the Mueller investigation on CNN but not disclosing she was counsel for Papadopoulos. (A photo of the Lincoln Project scene, which occurs at the 21-second mark of the video, is below)

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Photo from NPR. John Pierce and George Papadopoulos in the front. Ex-Pierce Bainbridge partners Caroline Polisi and Christopher N. LaVigne in the back.

Yet another felon, Pierce Bainbridge ex-client Michael Avenatti, was arrested in January while accompanied by former firm partner Thomas Warren.

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Avenatti’s name has surfaced several times as colorful attorney Robert Barnes has skewered John Pierce over his handling of the Rittenhouse matter. Barnes has opined that Pierce is an “incompetent joker” and the “Michael Avenatti of the right.” In the video below, Barnes provides a Denzel Washington in Philadelphiaexplain it to me like I’m 2 years old” analysis on Pierce; it touches on many problematic issues, and is absolutely worth your time.

The felonious Pierce Bainbridge narrative was bolstered by a May 2019 judicial statement of ex-firm partner Denver G. Edwards, co-founder of Bradford Edwards & Varlack, who said allegations against the firm “if true, would constitute criminal activity.” Edwards lied under oath the same in day another proceeding to try to keep those same allegations from becoming public.

Edwards co-founders are ex-Pierce Bainbridge attorneys Patrick Bradford and Camille Varlack, but perhaps most notably, ex-Pierce Bainbridge Chief Financial Officer Kevin Cash is also with the new Edwards firm. The video below provides a 90-second overview of Pierce Bainbridge finances; most of this occurred under Kevin Cash’s watch; speaks for itself.

Questionable Pierce Bainbridge Activity

There plume of smoke billowing from the “dramatic disintegration” of Pierce Bainbridge is substantial. A representative list of problematic issues is telling.

  • Pierce Bainbridge repeatedly pledged the same alleged collateral in exchange for tens of millions in cash, which lending activity has resulted in several lawsuits against the firm and related entities.
  • The multiple pledging appears to have commenced as early as around March 2019, shortly before the firm’s first funder declared a $9.1 million default; it picked up in November 2019 and the firm appears to have quintuple-pledged the same collateral from November through March.
  • Pierce essentially absconded with $2.5 million from a cash advance lender in late February 2020. Around one month later, his co-named partners David L. Hecht and James D. Bainbridge formed, Hecht Partners and Bainbridge Law APC, respectively.
  • A $4 million money judgment has been entered against the firm and related entities for stiffing a cash advance lender.
  • Investor solicitation materials for a Pierce Bainbridge tied litigation fund named Talon LF LLC, contain representations about the firm’s litigation track record which appear to be misleading.
  • Five vendors of legal services have sued the firm for alleged failure to pay debts as they became due.
  • A legal service vendor recently requested a default judgment on a $3,600 alleged unpaid Pierce Bainbridge obligation.
  • Pierce Bainbridge partners lied under oath, violated ethical rules and have been accused of committing fraud on courts.
  • An ex-partner expressed concerns about the Pierce Bainbridge firm tax situation.

Perhaps an appropriately ugly bow in which to wrap this up, Pierce had a second domestic violence restraining order entered against him in July of 2019. A sample of the text messages he sent to mother of his children is disturbing.

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Publicly filed texts in the Superior Court of the State of California County of Los Angeles, Central District. CASE No. BD 639 740. Texts dated July 27, 2019, authenticity was verified by an IT professional

Regardless of how corrupt Pierce Bainbridge may have been, it is disheartening to hear that the firm was accused of “stonewalling” a subsequent subpoena for financial records from Pierce’s former spouse. Pierce’s partners seem to have circled the wagons around protecting his at all costs. In addition to the firm founder’s laundry list of transgressions, one wonders what would motivate lawyers, or anyone for that matter, to protect an individual with two domestic violence restraining orders.

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The saga of John Pierce and Pierce Bainbridge continues to unfold, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

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