Greg Reyes has it hard these days. As the first executive accused by the SEC and Justice Department of backdating stock options, the former Brocade CEO faces expensive civil charges, potential jail time, and an uphill battle to resume a once-promising career.
So far, his defenses — which have ranged from blaming Larry Sonsini to pointing out that he never backdated his own options — haven’t done much good. But it’s become clear since he was charged last week that Reyes has one thing working for him: Mike Sitrick.
The legendarily abrasive — and effective — L.A. PR expert (who’s well-described by Los Angeles Magazine, via the blog LA Observed) has a staffer, former New York Times writer Seth Faison, working on Reyes’ case. While the government charges may have made it hard to stem major reputation damage, the decision to hire Sitrick & Company by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom — the law firm representing Reyes — seems to indicate a plan to go on the offensive.
That’s what Sitrick is known for, and his aggressive methods of killing, spinning and planting stories often pop up in Hollywood’s constant stream of public embarrassments. His ability to cow reporters makes him a particularly valuable person to have in a case; as one L.A. lawyer puts it “you only hire him when you want to go to war with the First Amendment.”
Reyes’ lawyer, Richard Marmaro, had nothing to say about Sitrick on Thursday. But Faison — formerly the Times Shanghai bureau chief — said the Reyes mess is a plum assignment. “This is a great case to work on, as Greg Reyes is being wrongfully prosecuted by the government,” Faison said. “He’s a scapegoat.”
— Justin Scheck