Attorneys Debate Former HR Exec Role in Brocade Backdating Scheme

November 27, 2007 ( - Dutiful subordinate or partner in crime? That is the question attorneys are debating concerning the involvement of former Brocade Communications human resources executive Stephanie Jensen in the firm's stock options backdating scheme.

According to, Keker & Van Nest partner Jan Little, in defending Jensen against charges that she falsified Brocade’s books to facilitate stock option backdating, said the procedures for handling options were already in place when Jensen joined the company. Little also argued Jensen has a background in HR, not accounting, so she was guided by her bosses: former CFO Michael Byrd and former CEO Gregory Reyes, according to the news report.

The defense is considering asking Reyes to testify about his and Jensen’s roles in granting stock options, saying his testimony will refute the government’s claim that Jenson knowingly and intentionally participated in the illegal backdating, driven by pressure to recruit and retain qualified engineers. Reyes was convicted in August of 10 felony counts relating to the backdating of stock option grants to company executives (See Former Brocade CEO Gets 10 Guilty Verdicts for Backdating Charges ).

The government was not allowed to tell the jury in the Jensen trial of Reyes’ convictions, reports, but if the defense decides to put Reyes on the stand to prove Jensen only served in an administrative role, the government could bring in Reyes’ convictions to attack his credibility, according to defense lawyers not involved in the proceeding. While some believe if Jensen’s lawyers call on Reyes, they would risk associating her with his wrongdoing, some defense lawyers say Reyes’ conviction is not entirely harmful to Jensen, if her team can convince the jury that the government already got its man and justice has been served.

However, also at issues, according to some defense lawyers, is whether Reyes’ testimony could hurt his own sentencing.

In explaining the concept of backdating to the jury, the government’s counsel pointed out that board minutes reporting on meetings that never actually occurred are enough to show Jensen knew she was breaking the law. Jensen’s counsel said she was just doing her job.