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Plato Cacheris Has Been One of the Nation’s Best Criminal Defense Attorneys for the Past Forty-Eight Years

published June 24, 2013

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Personal Life

Plato Cacheris Has Been One of the Nation’s Best Criminal Defense Attorneys for the Past Forty-Eight Years
Plato Cacheris Has Been One of the Nation’s Best Criminal Defense Attorneys for the Past Forty-Eight Years" vspace="5" width="250" /> Plato Cacheris is a name partner of Washington D.C.'s Trout Cacheris. He has been a leading member of the criminal defense bar for forty-eight years. Mr. Cacheris has represented corporations and individuals involved in a variety of investigations, which include espionage, obstruction of justice and perjury, securities violations, food and drug violations, bank fraud, bribery and public corruption. His practice also includes civil actions involving conspiracy, fraud, and theft of trade secrets, as well as SEC and other administrative enforcement actions.

Mr. Cacheris is well known for representing Monica Lewinsky together with Jake Stein as co-counsel during the independent counsel's investigation of former President Bill Clinton. He represented Fawn Hall during the Iran Contra obstruction of justice investigation and he served as co-counsel with Bill Hundley for former Attorney General John Mitchell during the Watergate prosecution. Mr. Cacheris was appointed by the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia to represent former CIA agent Aldrich Ames and former FBI agent Robert Hanssen, two of the most significant espionage prosecutions in American history.

Before entering private practice, he served as the Principal Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia during the early 1960's. He also served as a trial attorney in the DOJ from 1957 to 1960. Mr. Cacheris is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the Virginia State Bar. He has been admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, the U.S. court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Cacheris is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers and the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Over the years, he has been awarded with several distinctions. Mr. Cacheris is listed in Washingtonian Magazine's Top Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and The Best Lawyers in America. He is a well-known member of the Virginia Bar Association, the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Mr. Cacheris was born in Pittsburgh, PA, and raised in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Mr. Cacheris went on to serve as a lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After serving in the marines, he earned his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

When the fearless attorney isn't working, he enjoys reading. Mr. Cacheris is an avid Washington Redskins fan. He is a frequent visitor of Washington DC's i Ricchi, the Palm and Al Tiramisu restaurants.

Mr. Cacheris' Successful Law Career

Does Mr. Cacheris have a most memorable law school experience? He said he served as a lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps before he attended law school. "There wasn't one memory that stood out, but law school as a whole was exciting and I enjoyed it immensely."

Why did the Super Lawyer decide to become an attorney? Mr. Cacheris noted that his undergraduate courses influenced his decision to go to law school. "I took undergrad law courses, which I found interesting. I also handled court-martial cases while I served in the Marine Corps. These factors influenced my decision to become an attorney."

So what is the best part of his job? "My independence in choosing cases. I am active in court and I enjoy helping individuals with cases that appeal to me."

What is Mr. Cacheris known for professionally? "I am known to be a good trial lawyer and negotiator."

What area of the law is he most passionate about? "White-collar criminal defense."

Is there an area of practice Mr. Cacheris would like to develop further into? "Not necessarily. Not at this point in my career."

When asked what his strengths and weaknesses were, he acknowledged, "My strength is my ability to try cases and to negotiate with prosecutors so they will not indict my clients." Mr. Cacheris also pointed out that he negotiates with prosecutors to grant immunity or to reduce the charge(s) against his clients. As for his weakness, the trial lawyer said, "We will let others decide that."

What does Mr. Cacheris think about the legal field today? "I have been disappointed since the sentencing guidelines have been put in place."

If he weren't a lawyer, what would Mr. Cacheris probably be doing? "I would be retired from the foreign service."

The trial lawyer was asked where he sees himself in five years' time. Mr. Cacheris jokingly stated, "I hope I am living." He said he's 84 and he will retire soon.

What motivates Mr. Cacheris to be an attorney every day? "I am motivated to help people who are in trouble."

How does the former Assistant U.S. Attorney want to be remembered? "As a good trial lawyer who faithfully represented his clients."

High Profile Cases

Robert Philip Hanssen was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent who spied for the Russian and Soviet intelligence services against the U.S. from 1979 to 2001. On February 18, 2001, Hanssen was arrested at Foxstone Park and was charged with selling U.S. secrets to the Russians in exchange for more than $1.4 million in diamonds and cash for more than twenty-two years. Mr. Cacheris negotiated a plea bargain that permitted Hanssen to avoid the death penalty in exchange for co-operating with authorities. On July 6, 2001, Hanssen pleaded guilty to fifteen counts of espionage in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. He is currently serving fifteen consecutive sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole at the U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, CO. The U.S. Department of Justice's Commission for the Review of FBI Security Programs described Hanssen's activities as "possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. history."

Aldrich Hazen Ames was a Central Intelligence Agency counter-intelligence officer and analyst who spied for Russia and the Soviet Union. To this day, Ames compromised the second-largest number of CIA assets (Hanssen is the only individual who has compromised more U.S. secrets). On February 21, 1994, he was arrested and later charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with spying for Russia and the Soviet Union. Ames' betrayal compromised approximately one hundred CIA operations and caused the deaths of an estimated ten U.S. sources. On April 28, he pleaded guilty and received a sentence of life imprisonment. Ames is currently serving his sentence at the high-security Allenwood U.S. Penitentiary, located near Allenwood, PA.

Mr. Cacheris handled Hanssen and Ames' cases at the request of the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia. What did he learn from this experience? The candid attorney replied, "I worked for the Department of Justice so I am familiar with such prosecutions and I had experience with espionage cases both as a prosecutor and as a defense attorney."

Mr. Cacheris explained that Attorney General John Ashcroft pushed for the death penalty in the Hanssen case, but he prevailed for his client. Since Hanssen escaped the death penalty, was this one of Mr. Cacheris' greatest achievements? "I think so, because the Hanssen case was a hot matter and it was one of my achievements as an attorney."

John Newton Mitchell served as the Attorney General of the U.S. from 1969 to 1972 under President Richard Nixon. On February 21, 1975, Mitchell was found guilty of perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy and he was sentenced for his involvement in the Watergate break-in and cover-up. He served his sentence at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, AL, in a minimum-security prison. Mr. Cacheris represented Mitchell during the Watergate prosecution. How did he handle the media coverage? Was Mr. Cacheris pleased with the outcome of the case? "This was my first high profile case. You don't handle the media, you just survive. President Nixon resigned and we [Cacheris and Hundley] did the best we could with the media. I wasn't pleased with the outcome of the case because my client was convicted and sentenced to prison. We preferred something better. I did enjoy handling the case."

Fawn Hall served as Oliver North's secretary from February 1983 until she was fired on November 25, 1986. She was accused of smuggling papers that were confidential out of her employer's office, which she was accused of hiding inside her leather boots. This incident caused President Ronald Reagan to create a task force, which put Hall and North on trial. In exchange for Hall's testimony, she was granted immunity. The former secretary admitted to shredding quite a few documents. On March 22, 1989, Hall began two days of testimony at North's Iran-Contra trial in Washington, D.C. Mr. Cacheris represented Hall during the Iran Contra obstruction of justice investigation. Was he pleased with the outcome of this case? "Yes. I received immunity for Fawn from the prosecution, so I was pleased with the outcome of the case."

Monica Lewinsky was a White House intern with whom U.S. President Bill Clinton admitted to having had an "improper relationship" in 1995 and 1996. Lewinsky was called before a grand jury. She received transactional immunity by the U.S. Office of the Independent Counsel in exchange for her testimony. During the independent counsel's investigation of former President Clinton, Mr. Cacheris represented Monica Lewinsky together with Jake Stein as co-counsel. How was this experience? "It was a very interesting case that rivaled the Iran-Contra and Watergate cases. It might exceed them because it involved President Clinton. Jake and I were pleased with the outcome of the case because Lewinsky received immunity and was not prosecuted."

Mr. Cacheris' Mentors and Mentoring Others, Pro Bono Work and Goals

Who are Mr. Cacheris' mentors? Is he a mentor? "As a prosecutor, I had several mentors. Abe Portez and Bill Hundley were my mentors while I served eight years as a prosecutor for the government. Over the course of my career, I mentored several individuals. I mentored John Hundley (son of Bill) over a period of time."

Does Mr. Cacheris handle pro bono work? He said Hanssen and Ames' cases were pro bono work.

Does the Super Lawyer have goals? "I have fulfilled the goals I have set for myself during my practice."
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