Cahill Gordon hires ex-prosecutor in McAfee crypto case

Picture illustration of crytocurrencies
Representations of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies on a screen showing binary codes are seen through a magnifying glass in this illustration picture taken September 27, 2021. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration
  • Samson Enzer joins firm after eight years as prosecutor
  • Prosecuted "cutting edge" crypto cases

(Reuters) - A former prosecutor in Manhattan who charged John McAfee with cryptocurrency fraud has joined Cahill Gordon & Reindel, where he hopes to build a crypto defense practice.

Samson Enzer started on the "ground floor" of cryptocurrency enforcement by prosecuting some of the earliest cases brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, he said in an interview on Monday.

The case prosecutors brought in March alleging McAfee and an associate used Twitter to engage in a cryptocurrency pump-and-dump came together in part because of the pandemic, Enzer said.

"Suddenly, everything stopped. There were no more court deadlines," he said. "I had time to just read documents that we had collected."

While the case had "a sad ending" with McAfee's June 2021 death in Spanish custody while awaiting extradition, Enzer said it was "cutting edge" and marked the first time that touting an initial coin offering without disclosing compensation was charged as a crime.

McAfee's alleged co-conspirator has pleaded not guilty to the charges and faces parallel civil lawsuits by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

As counsel at Cahill Gordon in New York, Enzer hopes to use his experience to advise both entrepreneurs and financial institutions, he said.

Enzer said he plans to build a crypto-related defense practice at the firm, which has established white collar and financial services practices.

Herbert Washer, who chairs Cahill’s litigation department, called Enzer an "exceptional addition" to the firm in a statement on Monday.

A born-and-raised Manhattanite who earned his law degree at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, Enzer practiced at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison before going on to spend eight years as a prosecutor.

For the last three years, he prosecuted financial crime, including cryptocurrency schemes, as a member of the securities and commodities fraud task force.

In 2018, Enzer and colleagues charged the three founders of Centra Tech Inc, a company that claimed to have developed a cryptocurrency debit card.

It was the first initial coin offering case to be charged as securities fraud in the Southern District of New York, and involved cooperation with the SEC's newly created cyber unit, he said.

"I got to be part of the discussions where we were really breaking the ground on how to think about those issues," Enzer said.

All three men pleaded guilty, and two have been sentenced to prison. The third awaits sentencing.

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Jody Godoy reports on banking and securities law. Reach her at