Ex-A&O, Bingham Partner Gets 17 Years for Child Porn Plea

, The Am Law Daily

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Edward De Sear, a former partner at Allen & Overy and Bingham McCutchen, was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to federal child pornography and sex trafficking charges.

In admitting to the crimes of which he is accused, the 67-year-old resident of Saddle River, N.J., acknowledged sexually molesting a 6-year-old boy in a Brussels hotel room in June 2011 after arranging for the youth to travel there from Paris, according to a press release and superseding information disclosed Thursday afternoon by the U.S. attorney's office in Newark.

De Sear pleaded guilty to one count of sex trafficking with a child and four counts of distributing child pornography before U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark, who handed down the 210-month negotiated sentence and ordered De Sear to pay $1.2 million in restitution to the victims of his various crimes.

The Am Law Daily reported in July 2011 that federal prosecutors in Newark had charged De Sear with distributing child pornography. At the time, De Sear was a partner in the New York office of Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy, which immediately severed its relationship with him.

De Sear had arrived at Allen & Overy a year earlier from Bingham McCutchen, a firm whose partnership he joined in 2009 when it absorbed his previous firm McKee Nelson. De Sear's high-profile move to McKee Nelson in 2003 from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, whose structured finance practice he once chaired, was covered by sibling publication Legal Times.

As it turned out, legal bona fides were masking a dark side. A year after Allen & Overy cut its ties to him, federal law enforcement authorities arrested De Sear on additional charges, according to our previous reports. In connection with that arrest, prosecutors unsealed a graphic 21-page indictment that detailed De Sear's use of a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to download hundreds of illicit images and videos depicting the sexual exploitation of young children.

The indictment claimed that De Sear used the wireless network of the firm where he was working in 2010 to access the peer-to-peer network. In a statement to The Am Law Daily, a Bingham spokeswoman said that the firm "cooperated fully with authorities in their investigation while [De Sear] was briefly with the firm and after his departure in July 2010."

On Thursday, De Sear thanked prosecutors and the FBI for tracking him down.

"I am crushed with remorse and shame," the disgraced lawyer told Martini, according to a report on Thursday's proceeding by The Record of Bergen County. "The FBI may have saved me from hell. And I hope to do some good with my life."

The Record reports that De Sear's lawyers turned over checks for the $1.2 million in restitution during Thursday's court appearance. The sentencing terms call for him to pay $1.1 million to the boy he abused and another $100,000 to the victims of his illegal downloading.

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