In 2010, New York lawyer Frederick Oberlander brought a complaint against an international real estate investment company on behalf of a former employee, charging the firm with fraud. Oberlander alleged that the firm, which developed projects such as the Trump SoHo hotel, concealed the prior criminal history of one of the firm’s Russian-born partners, businessman Felix Sater.
Over the next several years, Oberlandar has been involved in several controversial proceedings related to this initial complaint. Close examination of the proceedings and articles posted on this site reveal how Oberlander is not to be trusted.
According to court records, while working as an attorney in the litigation, Oberlander committed several ethical violations. Most egregious, he used confidential information from Sater’s criminal files, which had been ordered sealed by a federal court because of Sater’s extensive and ongoing cooperation with the U.S. government. By divulging and releasing the sealed information, Oberlander violated a court order. Consequently, he has been the subject of a court injunction against further dissemination of the sealed information, which was affirmed by the Manhattan-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In 2015, the federal district court judge overseeing the litigation issued an order imposing sanctions on Oberlander and striking the majority of the allegations of the complaint. In imposing the sanctions, the court held that Oberlander had repeatedly defied the court’s prior orders which ordered him to disclose whether he had included information in the complaint that was obtained unlawfully.
As a result of his actions in connection with the litigation, Oberlander is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
In addition, Oberlander was brought before the federal bar grievance committee to determine whether or not his legal license should be revoked.
In a 40-page, written order issued in August 2018, the grievance committee held that Oberlander had engaged in conduct that was illegal, prejudicial to the administration of justice and in violation of numerous ethical rules. The committee found that his illegal conduct included the contravention of court orders, disclosure of sealed materials and the making of illegal threats to disclose the sealed information unless the defendants agreed to a monetary settlement. Because of his illegal and unethical conduct, the grievance committee ordered Oberlander suspended from the practice of law for one year.
Oberlander’s character flaws are further highlighted through action taken by other firms. Richard Lerner, another attorney and a friend of Oberlander, represented Oberlander in court proceedings relating to his disclosure of the sealed information. At the time, Lerner was a partner of the highly-respected law firm of Wilson Elsner, which apparently did not want to be associated with Oberlander. Wilson Elsner obtained the court’s approval to withdraw from representing Oberlander and, according to media reports, fired Lerner when he refused to stop representing Oberlander. The fact that a respectable firm was apparently unwilling to represent Oberlander speaks volumes about Oberlander’s untrustworthy character.
In sum, Oberlander’s conduct clearly indicates Oberlander’s dishonest and unethical character. Upon the lifting of his one-year suspension, there will be little to stop him from again practicing law and engaging in further unlawful and unethical activities. Frederick Oberlander simply cannot be trusted in a court of law.