The Frederick Oberlander Story
In 2010, New York lawyer Frederick Oberlander brought a complaint against Bayrock Group LLC, an international real estate investment company on behalf of a former employee, charging the firm with fraud. Oberlander alleged that Bayrock, which developed projects such as the Trump SoHo hotel, concealed the prior criminal history of one of the firm’s partners, a businessman named Felix Sater.
Over the next several years, Oberlander 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 Oberlander worked as an attorney in the litigation, Oberlander committed several ethical violations. Most egregious, Oberlander 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 issued 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 original fraud litigation issued an order imposing sanctions on Oberlander and striking most of the allegations of the complaint. In imposing the sanctions, the court held that Oberlander had repeatedly defied the court’s prior orders forcing him to disclose the source of information in the complaint that Bayrock claimed he had obtained unlawfully.
Owing in part to his actions in connection with the fraud 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 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 Elser, which apparently did not want to be associated with Oberlander. Wilson Elser obtained the court’s approval to withdraw from representing Oberlander and, according to media reports, forced Lerner’s departure from the firm when he refused to stop representing Oberlander. The fact that a highly respected law firm was apparently unwilling to represent Oberlander speaks volumes about Oberlander’s untrustworthy character and decision-making.
Upon the lifting of his one-year suspension, there will be little to stop Oberlander from again practicing law and engaging in further unlawful and unethical activities. Frederick Oberlander simply cannot be trusted in a court of law or the court of public opinion.