Plato Cacheris,Washington ‘Super Lawyer’ in Headline Cases, Dies at 90


Mr. Cacheris negotiated a deal with prosecutors for the sheikh to testify against Clark Clifford, a venerable Washington lawyer, and his law partner, Robert A. Altman, the chairman and president of First America, both of whom faced charges of perjury for denying knowledge of the takeover. Despite the sheikh’s testimony, they were not convicted, but they agreed to forfeit a total of $5 million in a settlement.

In exchange for his testimony, the sheikh was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and pay a fine of $105 million. Mr. Cacheris carried the big check from Saudi Arabia to Dulles International Airport and marked “yes” on a customs form that asked if he was carrying more than $10,000. The customs officer was stunned when he saw the check, made out to a prosecutor’s office. But, as Mr. Cacheris later told reporters, “I was welcomed into the U.S.”

Plato Cacheris was born in Pittsburgh on May 22, 1929, to Greek immigrants, Christos and Phaedra (Economou) Cacheris. They moved to Washington when Plato and his younger brother, James, were boys. The elder Mr. Cacheris was a founder of a chain of Washington waffle shops, and Plato and James, who became a federal judge, worked in one as they grew up in Washington.

Plato graduated from Western High School in Washington in 1947. He then attended Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, with the vague idea of someday becoming the United States ambassador to Greece. But he had taken some undergraduate law courses, and by the time he earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in 1951 he was more interested in law as a profession.

He served two years in the Marine Corps. Because he had legal training, he was assigned to defend accused Marines in court-martial cases. (He later earned the rank of captain in the Marine Reserves.) After mustering out, he attended the Georgetown University School of Law and received his juris doctor in 1956.

In 1955, Mr. Cacheris married Ethel Dominick. They had two children, Lisa and James Byron, who survive him, as does his wife. He is also survived by his brother and a granddaughter.

After law school, he joined the Justice Department as a prosecutor in the foreign agents registration section. From 1960 to 1965, he was the first assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

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