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Apple Nemesis Resigns From DOJ

By: David Utter

Prominent US Attorney Kevin Ryan abruptly resigned his position, in the middle of investigations into the stock option practices of Apple and other tech companies in Silicon Valley.

Apple Nemesis Resigns From DOJThe departure of Ryan from the US Attorney's office for the Northern District of California must have come as a relief to a number of firms being held to the flames of justice for backdating stock options. Apple has been a particularly plum target for Ryan.

But the prosecutor has decided to call it quits, and resigned his position. A spokesperson for the Department of Justice said in a BusinessWeek report that Ryan has been planning to step aside since summer.

Evidently there was not much love for Ryan, a Bush appointee, among the attorneys working under him. Several veteran prosecutors bailed rather than work for Ryan, with one openly ripping him as he headed out the door, according to SF Weekly:

Before leaving for private practice last year, Prosecutor John Hemann e-mailed his colleagues a copy of an open letter addressed to Ryan. He described a staff beset by low spirits and high attrition, and a U.S. Attorney inclined to ignore their concerns.

"There are problems in the office now that have not existed in kind or magnitude since I got here in 1995 ... ," wrote Hemann, who served on the federal Enron task force that prosecuted the company's executives. "It is no solution to deny these problems exist. ...

Apple probably felt the same way. An internal investigation into the company's backdating practices resulted in two people departing Apple. But the investigating committee and Apple's board gave CEO Steve Jobs their stamp of approval not long before Macworld in San Francisco.

Now Apple just has to hope the next US Attorney will have greater interest in other matters besides stock options. If that is the case, Jobs may be home free to helm Apple as long as he cares to do so. The board, investors, and Apple's fans want him to stay; they may just get their wish.


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