Solyndra Asks Court for OK to Hire Lawyers; Seeks Defense in Criminal Investigation

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim McElhatton, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Weeks after the FBI raided its headquarters, bankrupt solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC is seeking permission from a federal bankruptcy court to pay $525 to $640 per hour to lawyers to represent the California-based company in an ongoing criminal probe.

In a newly filed motion in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, attorneys for Solyndra are seeking permission to hire the K&L Gates law firm as special counsel with regard to a federal criminal investigation.

The motion states that K&L Gates is already familiar with the investigation and with Solyndra's business affairs as well as many of the potential issues that may arise in the context of that investigation and potential litigation.

The FBI raided Solyndra's offices on Sept. 8, days after the company had filed for bankruptcy, but federal authorities haven't said what sort of potential criminal activity they're investigating. The company won more than a half-billion dollars in loan guarantees from the Department of Energy in 2009 but collapsed just two years later.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have raised concerns that Solyndra executives gave officials assurances that the company's business prospects were bright just weeks before it went bankrupt, suspended operations and fired more than 1,000 employees.

If the motion is approved, the company would pay $625 per hour for the services of K&L Gates' Jeffrey L. Bornstein, who joined the firm in 2005 after nearly 20 years as a prosecutor at the U. …