Dan Garner* John Mark Pierce is out at Pierce Bainbridge. His own partners have placed him on leave for financial foul play. State government filings show Pierce entering into a lending arrangement with a payday lending type entity at a residential address in Flushing, Queens; a location hounded by reports of unsavory activity.
According to the American Lawyer, a firm spokeswoman said: “A preliminary investigation has revealed that John M. Pierce accepted money from Karish Kapital, LLC for his personal use.”
What Pierce is accused of, may sound unbelievable, but only if you’ve not been paying attention; it aligns with what former partner Don Lewis has said for almost a year.
As a clear example, Lewis’s complaint dated May 16, 2019 alleged:
Pierce Bainbridge has apparently attempted to frame this as an isolated incident. Unless the entire partnership is exceedingly naïve, the notion of financial malfeasance from Pierce as a surprise is, in our opinion, not credible. It is on par with Michael D. Yim of Putney Twombly and S. Jeanine Conley of Littler Mendelson – defendants in Lewis’s lawsuits against his former firm – claiming ignorance with respect to the overwhelmingly unethical behavior of John Pierce and the Pierce Bainbridge firm.
Tellingly, it was well over a year ago that partner Christopher N. LaVigne, expressed serious concerns about Pierce’s financial dealings.
LaVigne in Fall 2018 – Firm Taxes
LaVigne in Fall 2018 – Pierce Should Be Reported
LaVigne after receiving details about Pierce siphoning $200,000 in firm funds in August and September 2018 and directing the bookkeeper to use firm funds for his $21,000/month alimony payments.
Notwithstanding these concerns, LaVigne “eventually lied under oath in a sworn affidavit to smear me and protect Pierce,” says Lewis.
Lewis Former Partners Are Notified of Pierce’s Financial Shenanigans
Lewis’s former partners, in addition to being in possession of Lewis’s detailed allegations of financial misconduct since March 2019, were aware as of at least November 2018 that Lewis had expressed concerns. A letter Lewis’ sent to all of his former partners (from his counsel) stated:
The partners who received that letter, all of whom received the draft complaint, are (with prior stations in parentheticals):
Amman Khan (Glaser Weill), Andy Lorin (Drinker Riddle & Reath), Carolynn Beck (Murchison & Cumming), Caroline Polisi (former PB partner), Christopher N. LaVigne (Success Academy Charter Schools), Conor McDonough (Paul Weiss), Craig Bolton (Wilson Sonsini), David L. Hecht (Steptoe & Johnson), Doug Curran (Covington & Burling), Eric M. Creizman (now at Armstrong Teasedale), James D. Bainbridge (unknown), Jonathan Sorkowitz (White & Case), Max Price (Quinn Emanuel), Melissa Madrigal (now at Armstrong Teasedale), Mike Pomerantz (Grais & Ellsworth) and Patrick Bradford (New York City Council).
The fact of the matter is that financial malfeasance appears to have been the norm, rather than the exception, for Pierce. The question becomes: Why all of a sudden do his partners care?
Karish Kapital LLC, John Mark Pierce Enterprises LLC and Talon LF
To secure the Karish Kapital funds, Pierce filed a lien on the assets of the Pierce Bainbridge firm, Pierce individually, and the relatively newly created John M Pierce Enterprises LLC; interestingly, this entity appears on two lending filings in two days (filing one – Karish Kapital (2/25/20) and filing two – unclear (2/26/20).
Notably, the filings list differing addresses for JMP Enterprises, and a prior iteration of the firm, “Pierce Burns,” is listed as a debtor. The Karish Kapital restriction on “further encumbering” the listed collateral is noteworthy given the collateral listed in the filing the next day; as well of other filings where Pierce Bainbridge is a debtor.
JMP Enterprises may not be Pierce’s only “side” entity. He we reportedly involved in the incorporation of a litigation financing entity named Talon LF LLC in September 2018; the same month when Pierce reportedly siphoned $95,000 from firm accounts; which was the month after he reportedly siphoned $110,000.
These massive amounts, as well as Pierce claiming he did “not take any salary,” coupled with Pierce’s seven-figure outstanding tax liens, raises eyebrows.
“He Ended Up in Jail”
It appears that Chief SEAL Pierce has basically been dishonorably discharged for now. Where John Mark Pierce and the Pierce Bainbridge firm end up once the dust has settled, remains to be seen; however, Pierce’s recent shenanigans, coupled with the firm’s response, dovetails with an e-mail from a NYC attorney who rejected Pierce’s recruitment efforts in the Summer of 2018; the lawyer stated:
“[John] you have an unsustainable business model. . . Trying to do what you are doing – build a major NYC firm overnight is hugely risky because you need to attract real talent. The last person who tried it in NY was Mark Dreier. He ended up in jail.”
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