Three Things About Showtime’s ‘Billions’

You may have been hooked by Showtime’s Billions over the last few months. With Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti it was pretty hard to turn away from. It’s a fictional story of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (a very real office), Giamatti, and a billionaire hedge fund manager operating out of Westport, Connecticut played by Lewis.

Giamatti is convinced that Lewis cheats the markets, uses inside information, bribes officers and directors of publically traded companies and a host of other white collar crimes. Lewis is all Giamatti despises in the post-recession world and he makes him the target of his office’s very deep resources.

Lewis, for his part, knows Giamatti is coming and pretty much goads him on. He, obviously, has vast resources himself and would rather employ them – legal and quasi-legal – than settle with the ‘government’ and go on with his life.

There’s a lot more to it, of course, and a lot of it is high drama, some of it’s fairly funny, most of it is implausible, but it does suck you in.

In the course of the first season that just ended last Sunday, there have occurred – maybe once or twice a show – a few fundamental truths of how the federal system works in regard to white collar investigations.

These moments may be missed under the glitz and great acting, but to someone who defends white collar cases they were jolting in their realism.

Take, for instance, the propensity for federal agents to raid houses – sometimes just to bring people in for ‘a chat’ – in the early morning hours. Fast, quick, brutal, they don’t knock, they burst in, drag people out. Yes, it’s dramatized, stylized for television, but it happens. All the time. It’s the reason my slogan is “I’m the guy you call when the feds knock on your door at 6 in the morning.”

About halfway through the season, Giamatti’s team has discovered that one of Lewis’ traders used inside information on a series of trades. They bring him in to offer him a deal – his boss for immunity. This is very realistic, if not a constant motif in TV and the movies. The different thing about Billions though, is this: the guy turns them down, tells them to prove the allegations.

In investigating further, they discover that the trader shared his ‘good fortune’ with his parents, who promptly enriched their retirement account, although it’s clear they had no idea of the origins of their son’s tip.

Giamatti, his assistants, and several FBI agents show up at a park in Greenwich, CT where the trader is coaching a Little League game, his parents are in the stands. Giamatti tells the trader he’s come to arrest his parents – unless, of course, he now wishes to cooperate. It’s a chilling moment. It’s also real. It happens.

25-billions-02.w529.h352The season’s finale finds Giamatti on the trail of a corrupt judge. He has him dead to rights. Giamatti meets with him – a fairly creepy Anthony Edwards – and convinces him to resign from the bench while promising that the Southern District has no interest of dragging him and the court system through the mud of a trial.

Edwards resigns … and is promptly arrested by the Eastern District U.S. Attorney’s office. A perplexed Edwards turns to Giamatti, he explains, “Hey, I said you had nothing to worry about from the Southern District, I can’t speak for other jurisdictions.”
The one thing to take from all this? Don’t talk, don’t believe anything you’re told, don’t react, listen and take notes . . .  then leave it to an experienced – as in seen everything the fed has to dish out and more – attorney to deal with.

If you find yourself in need of an attorney, contact Tim Anderson Law for an initial, confidential consultation at 732-212-2812.


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