E. Robert Wallac overshadowed his career as a heavyweight attorney in California with one of the biggest corruption scandals that hit Washington during the Reagan administration on May 15, Alameda, California. Died at home near Berkeley in California. He was 88 years old.
His daughter Nancy Garvey confirmed her death, but did not identify the cause.
From the moment he graduated from the top of the Law School at the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Wallac was widely regarded as one of the best personal injury lawyers in California.
It wasn’t his favorite field. A child of a factory worker in New York, he dreamed of entering labor law, but there was no work available. Instead, by the 1970s, he was known to have won a headline-making verdict, including one of California’s first $ 1 million medical malpractice verdicts.
A progressive Democrat who drives a vintage Jaguar and wears a Brioni suit, he embodies the combination of San Francisco’s idealism and material success. The Los Angeles Times called him “a sophisticated liberal lawyer in this sophisticated liberal city.”
He was known for his eccentricity. He preferred to spell his full name in all lowercase — his friends called him “lowercase Bob” — and in 1976 he ran for the US Senate on a platform that demanded non-criminalization of marijuana. did. (He dropped out before the primary.)
So when he stopped practicing in the early 1980s and moved to Washington to become an unofficial adviser to Edwin Meese III, his best friend since law school who became president Ronald Reagan’s counselor, shocked many. Gave. Meese was a teacher at the University of San Diego, but Wallach advised him to come into power.
At a luncheon in San Francisco, Mr. Wallac told a group of lawyers and judges that he could be the door to the White House. For some, it was an ironic move to monetize his sudden approach to power. But Mr. Wallac argued that he was only trying to help his progressive allies during a conservative government.
And in fact, most of his work in Washington was free, including advising a small defense industry contractor called Wedtech in South Bronx. Mr. Wallac was drawn into the story of the company’s bootstrap — its founder was a working-class immigrant — and he agreed to help it win a contract to build a small engine for the Army. did.
Wallach wrote a note to Meese, who praises Wedtech. Meese now urged skeptical Army officials to sign a contract, and in 1982 Wedtech won a $ 32 million free contract.
Mr. Wallac wasn’t the only person in Washington to work with Wedtech. It was later revealed that the company had invested huge amounts of money in the financial resources of politicians, lobbyists and former government officials to win large-scale transactions in the Pentagon and invoice to hide bribes.
It worked: Wedtech quickly signed a $ 250 million deal. However, prosecutors became aware of the company’s tactics and began accusing company executives and top Washington figures of a long list of crimes in 1986.
By that time, Mr. Meath was President Reagan’s Attorney General and Mr. Wallac was a vassal of Wedtech. In the process, Mr. Wallac persuaded Mr. Mees to hire a financial adviser named W. Franklintin to handle the nest eggs in a blind trust. Mr. Chin happened to be a member of Wedtech’s board of directors.
Wedtech went bankrupt in 1986, and the following year, Mr. Wallac, Mr. Chin, and another person were charged with 18 charges, including postal fraud, securities fraud, and a plot to deceive the US government.
The Iran-Contra affair remains a decisive scandal in the late Reagan era, but the Wedtech affair was just as disastrous.It led to more than a dozen convictions, including: Lynn NofujigerA former spokesman for Reagan (whose conviction was overturned by an appeal).
Mr. Mies has already overcome several scandals, and by 1988 bipartisan pressure had asked him to resign. The lawyer’s report accused him of ignoring the spirit of government ethics, even though an independent lawyer refused to prosecute him for the crime. He finally resigned in August 1988.
Mr. Wallac claimed that he was a victim and an ideal naif manipulated by Wedtech executives. “I found myself so cute in the woods,” he told The Washington Post in 1987.
Nevertheless, he was convicted of fraud in 1989 and sentenced to six years in prison.
He sued and became like Cause Celebrity by using Mr. Wallac to meet Mr. Mies and even Mr. Reagan between both left and right lawyers who believed the case was a political motive. ..Conservative lawyer Robert Bork Organized his defense. Dennis P. RiodanA defender of the Black Panthers in California joined the effort.
During the appeal, it was revealed that two witnesses of the prosecution had perjuryed themselves, and that the prosecution knew about the perjury but remained quiet. The case was dismissed, but the government filed a new proceeding against Mr. Wallac in 1991.
This time, Mr. Wallac decided to protect himself. It was a dangerous decision, especially given that the southern part of New York, led by Rudolph Giuliani at the time, brought legal firepower to him.
The incident lasted for two years, but Mr. Wallac won. In 1993, a jury trial got stuck and the Justice Department decided to resign as a jury trial.
Mr. Wallac was legally clear, but financially ruined. Almost ten years after he earned his regular income, the incident ran out of his savings, especially when he returned to California, where his reputation was tattered.
Unexpectedly, he returned to the Bay Area. He quickly won the proceedings and rebuilt his reputation. During his 58-year career, he ruled 283 cases, of which only 14 were lost.
He taught at several Bay Area law schools, coached dozens of young lawyers, provided court tips, and impressed them with the importance of mastering court proceeding skills.
In a telephone interview, Sullivan & Cromwell’s lawyer best friend Robert J. Jufra Jr. said, “He said all trials were a wonderful drama dominated by the hidden truth of humanity.” Said. “Most people explain that Bob was considered one of the greatest lawyers of his generation.”
Eugene Robert Wallach was born on April 11, 1934 in Manhattan. His parents Ben and Eva (Lowenstein) Wallac met as workers at the Harlem hat factory. They divorced when Bob was seven, after which he and his mother moved to Los Angeles.
During World War II, Mrs. Wallac found a job to build a bomb bay door at Lockheed’s aircraft factory. She was the real “Rosie the Riveter,” Wallac said.
A high school teacher introduced him to the debate, and he was good enough to win a full scholarship to the University of Colorado. He later transferred to the University of Southern California and graduated in 1955. He worked in college and law school. While in Berkeley, he worked in a canning factory.
He met Mr. Meath in the third year. There they both belonged to a mock trail team. They were politically opposed, but became close friends. When Mr. Wallac’s wife Barbara was hospitalized, Mies took care of Wallac’s three daughters. Later, when Mies’ son died in a car accident while outside the town, Mr. Wallac identified his body.
Mr. Wallac’s marriage ended with a divorce. Along with his daughter Nancy, he is surviving by two other daughters, Jamie Wallac and Bonnie Wallac, and seven grandchildren.
Mr. Wallac began his career at the San Francisco company Walker & Downing and became independent in 1971. While in Washington, he was appointed to the US Public Diplomacy Advisory Board and later to the United Nations Ambassador. Human Rights Commission.
After returning from Washington, he worked as hard as he used to. He spent 10 years as Senior Counsel for Sharper Image, spending 134 days in court at the age of most lawyers retirement in 2012 and 2013, working on three trials. In 2016, he became Senior Counsel for Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver.
He did not regret the time he spent in Washington, but expressed remorse for encouraging Mr. Mies to join the Reagan administration.
“Ed was wondering if he would go to Washington,” he told The Washington Post. “Whatever role I played, I regret it to this day.”