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White Collar Crime 2020: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak


Speaker(s): Alixandra Smith, Andrea M. Griswold, Brian C. Rabbitt, Charles E. Cain, Christopher Cestaro, Christopher J. Morvillo, Damian Williams, David C. Pitluck, Hon. Richard J. Sullivan, Hon. Ronnie Abrams, Jacquelyn Kasulis, James J. Benjamin, Jr., Joan Mcphee, Kara Novaco Brockmeyer, Katherine R. Goldstein, Lara Shalov Mehraban, Laura Grossfield Birger, Lorinda Laryea, Manal Sultan, Marc L. Mukasey, Marc P. Berger, Martine M. Beamon, Nicolas Bourtin, Osman E. Nawaz, Paul H. Schoeman, Robert A. Cohen, Sean Hecker
Recorded on: Sep. 23, 2020
PLI Program #: 276314

Alixandra Smith is the Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York (“EDNY”).  She has investigated and prosecuted a wide variety of criminal matters against both individuals and entities, including fraud involving publicly-traded companies, market manipulation, insider trading, healthcare fraud, tax crimes, money laundering, cyber-enabled crime and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”).  Alix is also an adjunct professor at New York University Law School.

During her time at the Office, Alix has worked on significant white collar cases.  For example, Alix was the co-lead prosecutor on the case United States v. Martin Shkreli and Evan Greebel, in which a pharmaceutical executive and his attorney were charged with securities fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and securities fraud conspiracy in connection with four complex fraud schemes.  Both defendants were tried and convicted in separate trials lasting a combined total of 17 weeks in 2017.  In addition, Alix led the Office’s team that, along with the Department of Justice’s Fraud Section, investigated and prosecuted United States v. Odebrecht and United States v. Braskem, collectively one of the largest foreign bribery cases in history.  In that case, Brazilian-based companies Odebrecht and Braskem pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA for their roles in a bribery scheme that involved payments of close to a billion dollars over a 15-year period to foreign government officials in Brazil and twelve other countries to obtain and retain business in those countries.  Alix was also the lead criminal prosecutor for United States v. AmerisourceBergen Specialty Group, in which a subsidiary of a major pharmaceutical company pled guilty to a violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act for the illegal distribution of misbranded oncology drugs, and paid a total of $885 million in criminal and civil penalties. 

Prior to joining the Office, Alix was an associate at two law firms in New York; completed clerkships with the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes, United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and the Honorable Faith S. Hochberg, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey; and served as an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School.  She graduated from Harvard University and Harvard Law School.

 

 

 


Christopher Cestaro is the Chief of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) Unit within the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section, which is responsible for all FCPA investigations and prosecutions initiated and charged by the Department.  Between January 2017 and July 2019, Chris served as an Assistant Chief in the FCPA Unit, and Chris served as a trial attorney in the FCPA Unit from 2014 through January 2017.  Prior to joining the FCPA Unit, Chris worked as a Trial Attorney in the Fraud Section’s Health Care Fraud Unit, where he prosecuted Medicare fraud cases.  Before becoming a prosecutor, Chris worked at an international law firm and as a compliance counsel at a multinational corporation.  Chris graduated from the University of Richmond and the University of Virginia School of Law.


Damian Williams is the Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.  Prior to assuming that position, Mr. Williams investigated and prosecuted a wide array of significant securities fraud and public corruption offenses and tried over a dozen cases to verdict. 

Mr. Williams holds degrees from Harvard University, Cambridge University, and Yale Law School.  He served as a law clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens at the United States Supreme Court and Judge Merrick B. Garland at the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


Jacquelyn Kasulis joined the United States Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York in January 2008, and was appointed Acting Chief of the Criminal Division in March 2019, and Chief of the Criminal Division in June 2019.  After holding various supervisory positions, she was appointed Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section in April 2017.  She has investigated and prosecuted a wide variety of criminal matters, including market manipulation, fraud involving publicly-traded companies, investment adviser fraud, tax crimes, money laundering and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Bank Secrecy Act.

During her time in the Office, Jacquelyn has worked on significant white collar cases.  For example, Jacquelyn was the lead prosecutor in United States v. Martin Shkreli, in which Martin Shkreli was convicted in August 2017 of multiple counts of securities fraud relating to two separate hedge funds that he managed, and securities fraud conspiracy in relation to his attempt to control the price and trading volume of the shares of a publicly-traded company.  Jacquelyn also led the Office’s investigation and prosecution in United States v. Low Taek Jho, et al. and United States v. Leissner, in which two former bankers and a wealthy Malaysian financier were charged for their participation in a multi-billion dollar money laundering and bribery conspiracy related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s investment development fund.  Jacquelyn also led the investigation and prosecution in United States v. Bandfield, et al., in which nine defendants and six Belize-based corporations, including three brokerage firms, were charged for their involvement in an elaborate offshore securities fraud, money laundering and tax evasion scheme.  As part of that scheme, the defendants laundered approximately $250 million for their corrupt clients, who included more than 100 U.S. citizens and residents.  Additionally, Jacquelyn participated in the investigation and prosecution of nine corrupt brokers and promoters who were involved in a $131 million stock manipulation scheme related to ForceField Energy Inc., a publicly-traded company whose common stock was listed on the NASDAQ. 

Jacquelyn is also currently supervising Eastern District of New York prosecutors in United States v. Odebrecht and United States v. Braskem, collectively one of the largest foreign bribery cases in history, and United States v. Société Générale, an $860 million resolution of bribery and LIBOR manipulation charges. Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Jacquelyn was an associate in the Litigation Department of Kirkland & Ellis LLP in New York.  She graduated with honors from Columbia Law School in 2003.


Key Experience

  • Regularly advises companies, boards of directors and individuals facing high-stakes investigations by the DOJ, SEC and other regulators.
  • Counsels clients on sensitive internal investigations.
  • Served as Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Practice

Katie represents banks, private investment funds, corporations and their senior executives in investigations and enforcement proceedings arising under the federal securities and commodities laws. 

An experienced trial lawyer, Katie’s practice builds on nearly 12 years of experience as a federal prosecutor where she served in several significant leadership roles. After joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in 2004, she prosecuted a wide range of securities fraud cases, among others, and was promoted to Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force in 2015 after serving as Deputy Chief for one year, and before that Co-Chief of the General Crimes Unit for two years.

During her nearly three years as Chief, Katie supervised a team of approximately 20 senior prosecutors in connection with some of the most complex and high-profile white collar and securities matters in the country. She led all aspects of the unit’s work from investigation through prosecution, spanning a broad range of matters, including:

  • Accounting and disclosure fraud
  • Insider trading
  • Market manipulation
  • Mismarking of complex products
  • Corporate fraud
  • Fraudulent investor schemes.

Notable prosecutions brought under her leadership include a professional gambler charged with trading on inside information obtained from a board member of a publicly traded company; insider trading charges against individuals for hacking major New York law firms; corporate executives charged with honest services fraud; a hedge fund portfolio manager charged with trading on government secrets obtained from a political consultant; a hedge fund portfolio manager charged with the mismarking of illiquid fund assets; accounting fraud charges of an executive who manipulated a significant non-GAAP metric; and senior executives charged with a multi-year accounting fraud scheme at a publicly traded digital media company, as well as the market manipulation of the company’s stock. She also supervised the unit’s trials and appeals.

As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Katie was an accomplished trial lawyer and argued numerous appeals in the Second Circuit. Among the high-profile cases she tried were U.S. v. Mandell, et al. (a $100 million market manipulation and investor fraud, which resulted in a 12-year sentence) and U.S. v. Ebbers (public company accounting fraud by the CEO of WorldCom, which resulted in a 25-year sentence). As Chief of the General Crimes Unit, she supervised the office’s new Assistant U.S. Attorneys, numerous investigations and dozens of trials.

Katie is a member of the Bharara Task Force on Insider Trading, a working group composed of eight leading experts on insider trading commissioned to develop proposals to update and improve the clarity of federal insider trading laws. Led by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the group issued its report and recommendations earlier this year. (Click here to learn more.)

Katie is ranked by Chambers USA, where she is noted for her “strong reputation” and her “broad criminal defense practice” and where clients have described her as a “really excellent lawyer — very levelheaded, so smart and really able to get into the details.”

Katie received her B.A. magna cum laude in political science from Duke University, and her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School where she was co-chair of the Harvard Law Review’s Supreme Court Issue. From 2000 to 2001, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Karen Nelson Moore in the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

Representative Work

  • Conducted an investigation on behalf of an audit committee of the board of directors of a publicly traded media company in connection with allegations concerning allegedly false and misleading statements regarding recent M&A activity.*
  • Represented an individual in a criminal insider trading case culminating in a trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.*
  • Represented an audit committee of a board of directors of a publicly traded company in connection with DOJ and SEC investigations into the company’s revenue recognition practices, including counseling the audit committee through a multi-year restatement of its financial statements.*
  • Represented a special committee of a board of directors of a publicly traded company in connection with DOJ and SEC investigations into the company’s public statements about the impact on the company’s performance, business and results of a documentary film.*
  • Represented a demand committee of the board formed to respond to related shareholder derivative demands.
  • Represented a special committee and conducted internal investigations for publicly traded companies in connection with allegations concerning corporate culture issues.*
  • Represented individuals and executives in connection with investigations by the DOJ and SEC into alleged insider trading, deceptive trading practices, corruption and FCPA violations.*

    *Matters handled prior to joining Akin Gump.

Speeches

  • Practising Law Institute’s White Collar Crime 2020: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak, September 2020.
  • “Securities Litigation: The Investigation: Coordinating Requests From Government Regulators,” Practising Law Institute’s Securities Litigation 2020: From Investigation to Trial, July 2020.
  • “Handling a Regulatory Investigation – In House and Outside Counsel Perspective,” Security Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) C&L Society, Webinar, May 2020.
  • “Securities Litigation Institute: SEC Enforcement Today Panel,” New York City Bar Association, New York, January 2020.
  • “FCPA and Anti-Corruption Investigations and Enforcement,” Practising Law Institute’s White Collar Crime 2019: Prosecutors and Regulators Speak, New York, September 2019.
  • “Retail Investors: The New Enforcement Frontier?” Practising Law Institute’s Enforcement 2019: Perspectives from Government Agencies, New York, May 2019.
  • “Securities Litigation: The Investigation: Coordinating Requests from Government Regulators,” Practising Law Institute’s Securities Litigation 2019: From Investigation to Trial, New York, April 2019.
  • “The Rewards of Government Service: Leading Women in the Industry Tell Their Story,” New York City Bar Association, New York, January 2019.
  • “Enforcement Priorities,” Practising Law Institute’s Enforcement 2018: Perspectives from Government Agencies, New York, May 2018.
  • “Securities Litigation: The Investigation: Coordinating Requests from Government,” Practising Law Institute’s Securities Litigation 2018: From Investigation to Trial seminar, New York, April 2018.
  • “Mitigating Insider Trading Risk: Best Practices for Private Fund Managers Amidst the Rulings in Martoma, Newman and Salman,” The Hedge Fund Law Report, New York, November 2017.
  • “Legal and Policy Developments in Enforcement,” Practising Law Institute’s Enforcement 2017: Perspectives from Government Agencies, New York, May 2017.
  • “Securities Litigation: The Investigation: Coordinating Requests from Government Regulators,” at the Practising Law Institute’s Securities Litigation 2017: From Investigation to Trial seminar, New York, April 2017.
  • “Securities Enforcement,” American Bar Association’s 31st Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime, Miami, March 2017.

Public Service and Affiliations

  • Member, Women in the Legal Profession: White Collar Crime Subcommittee of the New York City Bar Association.
  • Member, Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s Task Force on Insider Trading.

Recognition

  • Chambers USA, White Collar Crime & Government Investigations.
  • Legal 500 USA, General Commercial Disputes, Securities Litigation and White Collar.
  • Benchmark Litigation, “Future Star.”

Publications

  • “SEC Risk Alert Addresses Private Fund Adviser Conflicts of Interest, Fee and Expense Management, and Policies and Procedures Relating to Material Non-Public Information,” Akin Gump Securities Litigation Alert, July 2, 2020.
  • “Liu v. SEC – Supreme Court Establishes Important Limitations on SEC Disgorgement,” Akin Gump Securities Litigation Alert, June 29, 2020.


Lara Shalov Mehraban is an Associate Director for Enforcement in the New York Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which means that she supervises a staff of approximately 150 attorneys, investigators, accountants and paralegals in the New York Office’s enforcement program.  She joined the SEC in 2007 and has served as an Assistant Regional Director, a member of the SEC’s Asset Management Unit, and a senior counsel.  Before joining the SEC, she was a litigation associate at for seven years, first at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and then at Stillman, Friedman & Shechtman, P.C.  Prior to her law firm practice, she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael Daly Hawkins on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  She received her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. from Duke University.


Manal Sultan is currently the Deputy Director for the Division of Enforcement and is in charge of the Division’s New York office. Ms. Sultan represented the Division in many enforcement actions, including virtual currency matters, which are filed in the United States District Court.  Many of these matters focus on allegations of manipulation, fraud, and trade practice misconduct. She has also successfully negotiated and settled many actions including benchmark cases and spoofing cases. Prior to being appointed Deputy Director, she has served as a chief trial attorney with the Division of Enforcement at the CFTC in New York. She also served as the Squad Leader of the Manipulation and Disruptive Trading squad of the Division. 


Marc Mukasey is a renowned criminal trial lawyer who defends high-profile executives and corporations in the worlds of finance, health care, energy, media, and sports. Marc is highly rated in Chambers and Partners’ USA rankings of white-collar lawyers based on praise from clients and peers: “From my perspective, he’s the best trial lawyer out there,” “he’s willing to learn every aspect of the matter and the client in order to orchestrate the best defense strategy possible.” His recent work includes three consecutive defense trial victories – the acquittal of Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher in a murder trial that captivated the nation; the first-ever acquittal in a commodities “spoofing” trial (US v. Flotron); and the successful trial defense of a bond trader (US v. Gramins).  He has also represented a major corporation in the Deepwater Horizon explosion, the CEO of a leading network, and a Hall of Fame basketball coach in criminal investigations.

Marc is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been named multiple times by Law360 as an MVP of the Year in the White Collar category, including in 2018. He is also a member of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers.

Prior to founding the firm, Marc was the Chairman of the white collar defense practices at two international law firms and a Chief in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Education:

  • Dartmouth College, B.A. 1989
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, J.D., cum laude 1993

Clerkship:

  • Hon. I. Leo Glasser, U.S. District Court, E.D.N.Y.

Admissions:

  • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  • United States District Court for the District of Connecticut
  • United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit


Marc P. Berger is the Deputy Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.  Previously, he served as Regional Director of the New York Office following his appointment in December 2017.

Before joining the SEC, Mr. Berger was a litigation partner at the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP, and the Global Co-Head of that firm’s Securities and Enforcement Practice. 

From 2002 to 2014, Mr. Berger served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, including serving as Chief of that office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force.  In that role, he supervised the investigation and prosecution of some of the nation’s highest profile financial and investment fraud cases, including the largest crackdown on hedge fund insider trading in U.S. history.  As a prosecutor, Mr. Berger also personally investigated and tried a wide variety of cases, including those involving securities and commodities fraud.

Mr. Berger received his bachelor’s degree with distinction from Cornell University in 1996 and earned his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1999.  Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Richard M. Berman of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.


Nicolas Bourtin is the Managing Partner of Sullivan & Cromwell’s Criminal Defense and Investigations Group and a co-head of the FCPA and Anti-Corruption Group. His practice spans multiple areas of white collar criminal defense, including anti-corruption, accounting fraud, criminal antitrust, sanctions, anti-money laundering and securities fraud. He has conducted numerous jury trials and internal investigations and has represented individuals and corporations in high-profile matters. He has defended some of S&C’s most prominent clients, such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Eni, Barclays, TD Bank, Standard Chartered and Popular in investigations and litigation. Previously, he served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Mr. Bourtin has been recognized by The National Law Journal as a White Collar, Regulatory and Compliance Trailblazer, and by Chambers USA as a leader in White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations and FCPA. He received his J.D. from Columbia Law School and his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame.


Osman E. Nawaz is an Assistant Regional Director for the Division of Enforcement in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York Regional Office. Mr. Nawaz leads teams of lawyers and industry experts as part of the SEC’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit. His cases focus on complex and emerging issues, as well as the structuring, sale, trading, and valuation of complex products. Prior to becoming an Assistant Director, Mr. Nawaz served as Senior Counsel in Enforcement, where he worked on matters concerning all aspects of the federal securities laws and involving financial institutions, public companies, investment advisers, and broker-dealers, among others. Before joining the SEC in 2010, Mr. Nawaz practiced law at Morrison & Foerster LLP from 2005 to 2010 where his practice involved commercial litigation and white collar work. He is an honors graduate of Baylor University and Denver University Law School.


Richard J. Sullivan was sworn in as a United States Circuit Court Judge for the Second Circuit in October 2018.  Before that, Judge Sullivan served for eleven years as a United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York.  Prior to becoming a judge, he was General Counsel and Managing Director of Marsh Inc., the world's leading risk management and insurance brokerage firm.  From 1994 to 2005, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where he was Chief of the International Narcotics Trafficking Unit and Director of the New York/New Jersey Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force.  In 2003, he was awarded the Henry L. Stimson Medal from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.  In 1998, he was named the Federal Law Enforcement Association=s Prosecutor of the Year.  Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney=s Office, he was a litigation associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York and a law clerk to the Honorable David M. Ebel of the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.  He is a graduate of Yale Law School, the College of William & Mary, and Chaminade High School on Long Island.  From 1986 to 1987, he served as a New York City Urban Fellow under New York City Police Commissioner Benjamin Ward.  Judge Sullivan is on the executive board of the New York American Inn of Court and the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s University School of Law.  He is an adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, where he teaches courses on sentencing and jurisprudence, and he previously served as an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, where he taught courses on white collar crime and trial advocacy and was named Adjunct Professor of the Year. 


Sean Hecker is an experienced trial lawyer whose practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense, government and internal investigations, complex civil litigation, and regulatory compliance.

Sean’s practice includes representing employees, officers, directors and corporations across various industries in grand jury and regulatory investigations, including those conducted by the DOJ, SEC, CFTC, FTC, IRS and federal and state banking regulators and state law enforcement agencies.  He represents individuals on matters concerning alleged securities and commodities fraud, corruption (including the FCPA), accounting fraud, money laundering, tax fraud, and antitrust violations.  He has tried numerous cases to juries in federal and state court.  He also regularly advises clients on various legal and compliance issues.

Sean is nationally recognized as a go-to lawyer for corruption and other white-collar criminal defense matters.  The Legal 500 US rated Sean as a leading lawyer in corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense, describing him as “thoughtful, commercial, and very experienced.” Chambers USA recognized him as one of the leading lawyers for FCPA matters and white-collar crime and government investigation matters, describing Sean as a “terrific,” “pragmatic and down-to-earth” lawyer.  Clients note that “Sean is an excellent partner and a pleasure to work with. He is extremely knowledgeable about the law and applies it in a very practical way.”

Sean is a member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel in the Southern District of New York, where he represents indigent federal criminal defendants.  He serves as Chairman of the Board of the Office of the Appellate Defender and of the Board of the Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., and is the Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Task Force on Mass Incarceration.  He also serves as Treasurer on the board of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers.

Prior to joining Kaplan Hecker & Fink Sean was a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP and a trial lawyer with the Federal Defenders of New York.  As a Federal Defender, Sean defended individuals charged in the Southern District of New York with a wide range of federal offenses and handled numerous trials and hearings.  Sean was a law clerk for the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, from 1998 to 1999, and for the Honorable Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York from 1997 to 1998.

Sean received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1997, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was the Senior Note Editor of the Law Review.  He received a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 1994.  He graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College in 1992.


Andrea M. Griswold is currently the Deputy Chief of the Securities and Commodities Task Force within the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. Prior to her current position, Ms. Griswold previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force for more than five years years. Since joining the Office in 2013, Ms. Griswold has also served as an Acting Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Unit and as a member of the Public Corruption Unit, where she was part of team that investigated and successfully prosecuted Michael Cohen, the former attorney to the President of the United States. In her work as part of the Securities and Commodities Task Force, Ms. Griswold has investigated and prosecuted a variety of white collar cases including those involving allegations of market manipulation, accounting fraud, valuation fraud, and insider trading. Most recently, Ms. Griswold led the criminal investigation that resulted in the 2019 indictment of senior executives at the Abraaj Group, now the world’s largest failed private equity firm, on charges that the defendants inflated the valuation of private equity investments and misappropriated investor funds, causing hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to investor-victims.                          

Ms. Griswold has also successfully prosecuted several securities fraud trials, including, most recently, the July 2019 conviction of Anilesh (“Neil”) Ahuja, the founder of NYC-based investment firm Premium Point Investments (“PPI”), and Jeremy Shor, a senior trader at PPI, for their participation in a scheme to inflate the net asset value reported to investors for hedge funds managed by PPI, by more than $100 million.

Ms. Griswold graduated cum laude from Georgetown University and earned her law degree from New York University in 2007. Prior to becoming a prosecutor, Ms. Griswold began her legal career at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, where she worked from 2007 to 2013, primarily on matters in the firm’s White Collar and Government Investigations group.


Brian C. Rabbitt serves as the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. In that capacity, Mr. Rabbitt supervises the Criminal Division’s more than 600 federal prosecutors who conduct investigations and prosecutions involving organized and transnational crime, gang violence, securities fraud, health care fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations, public corruption, cybercrime, intellectual property theft, money laundering, Bank Secrecy Act violations, child exploitation, international narcotics trafficking, human rights violations, and other crimes, as well as matters involving international affairs and sensitive law enforcement techniques.

Brian previously served as Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor to Attorney General William P. Barr.  Before joining the Department of Justice, Brian served in a senior role in the Division of Enforcement at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and as a senior advisor to Chairman Jay Clayton.  Brian previously was an attorney at Williams & Connolly, where his practice focused primarily on government investigations, enforcement matters, and complex civil litigation.  Brian began his legal career as a law clerk to Judge Henry Hudson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and, later, to Judge Thomas Hardiman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Brian earned his bachelor’s degree magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.


Christopher J. Morvillo has extensive experience representing corporate and individual clients in white-collar government investigations and prosecutions, internal investigations, and related regulatory and civil proceedings. With a particular focus on cross-border investigations, his many representations have involved allegations of accounting fraud, securities fraud, insider trading, public and foreign corruption, antitrust and economic sanctions violations, trade secret theft, and computer fraud. Chris also advises corporations and businesses on related compliance and policy matters.

From 1999 to 2005, Chris served as an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, where he investigated, tried and handled appeals in a wide variety of criminal cases. In 2005, he received the US Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service – the Justice Department's highest award for prosecutors. 

Recently, Chris successfully argued United States v. Hoskins before the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, winning a landmark victory limiting the scope of the FCPA. In recognition of his victory in the Hoskins appeal, The American Lawyer named Chris the “Litigator of the Week”.  Subsequently, following trial in the same matter, Chris obtained another significant ruling in the case when the District Court acquitted our client on all FCPA counts on the grounds that the FCPA did not apply to him.  He has also been designated as a “Thought Leader” in the International Who's Who of Business Crime Lawyer (White Collar Defense) and has been recognized in Super Lawyers New York every year since 2009 (White Collar Defense).  Chris is also an editor of The Practitioner’s Guide to Global Investigations.

Chris received a JD from Fordham University School of Law, and is admitted as an Attorney-at-Law in New York and Connecticut. He is a member of the New York City Bar Association and the Federal Bar Council, sits on the Board of the Cyrus R. Vance Center for International Justice and has also served for years as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.


Hon. Ronnie Abrams was nominated to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 28, 2011 and entered on duty on March 22, 2012. Judge Abrams received a B.A. from Cornell University in 1990 and a J.D. from Yale Law School in 1993. Upon graduation, she served as a law clerk for the Honorable Thomas P. Griesa of the Southern District of New York.

From 2008 until the time of her appointment, Judge Abrams served as Special Counsel for Pro Bono at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, where she had previously worked as a litigation associate from 1994 to 1998. Judge Abrams served in the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York from 1998 to 2008, holding the positions of Chief of the General Crimes Unit from 2005 to 2007 and Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division from 2007 to 2008. While at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Judge Abrams received several awards and commendations for her work, including the Department of Justice Director's Award for Superior Performance as a Federal Prosecutor.

Judge Abrams was an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Law School from 2008 to 2012. She presently serves on the Public Service Committee of the Federal Bar Council and has previously served on the New York City Bar Association's Council on the Profession as well as its Pro Bono and Legal Services and Government Ethics Committees. She also served as Counsel to the New York State Justice Task Force, one of the first permanent task forces to address wrongful convictions in the United States. In 2012, she received the New York State Bar Association President's Pro Bono Service Award for her Justice Task Force work.

In 2015, Judge Abrams helped create and began to run the “Young Adult Opportunity Program” a judicially supervised pretrial diversion program for non-violent young adults. She has also been involved with other criminal justice reform efforts in the Southern District of New York, including the creation of reentry courts.


Joan McPhee has more than two decades of experience representing companies and individuals in white collar criminal investigations and trials, as well as complex civil litigation and administrative enforcement matters.

Joan has handled high-profile and high-stakes matters for clients across a range of industries, including health care companies, private equity firms, financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, academic institutions and non-profit organizations. She has also represented numerous individuals, from senior executives and board members to physicians and engineers. She has defended companies and individuals in cases involving financial fraud, health care fraud, obstruction of justice, securities fraud, public corruption, tax fraud, and other alleged criminal and civil misconduct. She also counsels clients on risk mitigation and effective compliance measures.

In addition to her work on government enforcement matters, Joan is a leader of Ropes & Gray’s independent investigations group, which draws on the experience and know-how of former federal prosecutors to conduct thorough inquiries with the highest level of integrity. In 2018, she co-led a 10-month independent investigation commissioned by the United States Olympic Committee into the abuse of elite and Olympic gymnasts by Larry Nassar. The investigation culminated in a detailed December 2018 public report addressing “who knew what when” and what was and was not done in response, as well as contributing cultural conditions and underlying factors in the decades-long abuse. The detailed public report was described by the Washington Post as “thorough and unstinting.”

Prior to joining Ropes & Gray, Joan served as an Assistant United States Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Appeals Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. During her tenure as a federal prosecutor, in addition to conducting numerous investigations, Joan tried approximately a dozen cases involving a wide range of criminal conduct, including armed bank robbery, labor racketeering, financial fraud, sexual exploitation of minors and organized crime.

Throughout her career, Joan has been dedicated to public service—in government, in community organizations and in leadership roles on diversity and inclusion initiatives in the legal profession.

She has held numerous leadership positions at Ropes & Gray, serving for 10 years as a member of the firm’s governing policy committee, and for many years as head of the firm’s government enforcement practice. In addition, Joan co-chairs the firm's diversity committee. She also has served in a leadership role with the firm’s pro bono committee and participates in the Women’s Forum. She maintains an active pro bono practice, and has spearheaded the firm’s partnerships with the Innocence Project and Lawyers Without Borders. Her work with Lawyers Without Borders has included traveling to Tanzania to train local justice officials on investigating and prosecuting human trafficking crimes. Joan also is a member of the board of directors of the Legal Aid Society.


Kara Novaco Brockmeyer is a litigation partner based in the firm’s Washington D.C. office. She is a member of the White Collar & Regulatory Defense and Strategic Crisis Response and Solutions Groups, where her practice focuses on representing companies and individuals in anti-corruption, fraud and related government investigations and internal investigations, as well as advising on deal due diligence and compliance matters. Ms. Brockmeyer is ranked as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA (2020) where she is praised for her “enviable experience in major anticorruption investigations” and “expertise counseling clients on FCPA compliance programs.” Ms. Brockmeyer is also recommended by The Legal 500 US (2020).

Prior to joining Debevoise in 2017, Ms. Brockmeyer served as the Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit and directed a nationwide team of attorneys and forensic accountants investigating violations of the FCPA. During her tenure as chief of the unit, she oversaw many of the agency’s largest and most complex FCPA investigations. She was also one of the principal authors of the SEC-DOJ Resource Guide to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is widely considered the definitive government-issued guide on the FCPA.

Over a seventeen-year career at the SEC, including five years as an assistant director, Ms. Brockmeyer led and personally conducted major investigations in all areas of SEC enforcement, including financial reporting, broker-dealer and investment adviser violations, and insider trading. She was also the founder and co-head of the division’s Cross-Border Working Group, an interdisciplinary group focused on addressing accounting fraud by companies based overseas.

Ms. Brockmeyer earned her J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, magna cum laude, where she was also note editor of the Michigan Law Review. She received her B.A. from Williams College, cum laude.


Laura Grossfield Birger is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School.  Following law school, Ms. Birger clerked for the Honorable Norma L. Shapiro in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.  After a stint in private practice, Ms. Birger was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she served as Deputy Chief of Appeals and Chief of General Crimes.  Following her time at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Birger was a partner at Cooley LLP, where she focused on white collar defense and complex civil litigation.  In January 2019, Ms. Birger returned to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where she currently serves as Chief of the Criminal Division.


Lorinda Laryea has been with the Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Fraud Section since 2014, and has been an Assistant Chief in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) Unit since August 2018.  Ms. Laryea earned the Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention for her work on a lottery scam case and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for her work on the Odebrecht case.  Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Ms. Laryea clerked on the District Court for the District of Columbia and worked at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.  Ms. Laryea graduated magna cum laude from Brown University and cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center.


Ms. Beamon, a partner in Davis Polk’s Litigation Department and a former federal prosecutor, has successfully represented institutions and individuals in their most critical situations. She is recognized by Chambers USA as a Band 1 lawyer for her work in the white collar and investigations space, with clients describing her as a “phenomenal lawyer” who is “very smart” and “incredibly strong” and who won praise for her handling of a number of “sophisticated cases.”

Her matters have included grand jury, regulatory and independent investigations, representing companies, board of directors and individuals in connection with allegations of securities fraud, foreign corrupt practices, anti-money laundering, criminal tax violations, pharmaceutical marketing violations, and sexual misconduct, among other areas. Her complex civil matters have involved allegations under the False Claims Act, consumer protection and whistleblower provisions, and other state and federal statutes. Ms. Beamon also has participated in a number of confidential internal investigations on behalf of clients and has advised corporations and boards of directors on matters of corporate governance and compliance. In addition, the FBI requested that she train its agents on insider trading.

Ms. Beamon served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York, where she conducted numerous investigations and criminal trials. She received her J.D., summa cum laude, from University of Pittsburgh School of Law and her B.A., with honors, from University of Notre Dame.


Paul H. Schoeman is co-managing partner of Kramer Levin, and co-chair of the White Collar Defense and Investigations practice. He defends clients in complex and often high-profile criminal, civil and regulatory matters involving every aspect of white collar crime, including securities fraud, money laundering, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, health care fraud, insider trading, accounting fraud and tax evasion. A skilled advocate in and out of the courtroom, Paul represents corporations and individuals in investigations conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the U.S. Congress, the New York State Attorney General’s Office and other authorities. His work on behalf of his clients also includes conducting internal corporate investigations.

Among his most notable matters, Paul secured an acquittal of a former Deutsche Bank Alex. Brown investment representative on all charges of conspiring to deprive the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of billions of tax dollars through the use of allegedly abusive tax shelters, after a jury trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He also secured the acquittal of the former deputy speaker of the New York State Assembly, Clarence Norman Jr., on all charges of grand larceny and the filing of false instruments after a jury trial in New York State Supreme Court.

Paul originally joined Kramer Levin in 2003. He left in 2007 to serve as the chief assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and then rejoined the firm in 2009. As chief assistant, Paul supervised the office’s Criminal and Civil divisions. Before joining Kramer Levin, Paul served as an assistant U.S. attorney, first as a line assistant and subsequently as the deputy chief of the General Crimes section. He represented the United States as lead counsel in a wide variety of significant federal criminal prosecutions, and conducted numerous jury trials involving securities fraud, labor racketeering, tax evasion, identity theft and narcotics trafficking. He received a 2003 Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an assistant U.S. attorney.

Paul is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a distinction granted to only the top trial lawyers in the country. He has been recognized by Chambers USA and Legal 500 as one of the leading white collar criminal defense lawyers in the United States. In recent years, Chambers USA has cited clients who describe Paul as “analytically brilliant,” “a consummate legal tactician” and “extremely engaged” as well as an “extraordinary lawyer who is able to cut through to the heart of an issue extremely efficiently” and “a very steady hand with very high-quality judgment.”

Paul serves on the firm’s Executive Committee.


Robert Cohen is a partner in the Washington, DC office of Davis Polk & Wardwell. He is a member of the firm’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Government Investigations Group.

Mr. Cohen held senior positions in the Enforcement Division of the Securities and Exchange Commission during a 15-year tenure.  He served as the first Chief of the SEC’s Cyber Unit, and previously was Co-Chief of the Market Abuse Unit.  Mr. Cohen supervised a wide variety of high-profile cases, including investigations of complex insider trading; market structure violations by broker-dealers, trading platforms, and national securities exchanges; financial fraud and disclosure violations by public companies; investment adviser compliance and trading violations; cybersecurity controls; and cryptocurrency, initial coin offerings, and other digital assets.

Mr. Cohen is admitted to practice in New York and Maryland, and is practicing in Washington, DC under the supervision of partners of the firm.


James J. Benjamin Jr., a leader of Akin Gump’s securities enforcement and litigation practice group, represents institutional and individual clients in a wide variety of government and regulatory investigations and litigation. He has served as lead counsel in numerous internal investigations and has conducted numerous jury trials. He has been recognized as a leading lawyer by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in the areas of white-collar crime and government investigations.  Before joining Akin Gump, Mr. Benjamin served for more than five years as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he served as deputy chief appellate attorney and as a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Mr. Benjamin previously served as a law clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court for Justices Lewis F. Powell Jr. and John Paul Stevens. He received his A.B. magna cum laude in 1987 from Dartmouth College, where he was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and he earned his J.D. with honors in 1990 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was the research and projects editor of the Virginia Law Review.


Charles E. Cain is the Chief of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit within the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement. He has been in the SEC’s FCPA Unit since its formation in 2010 and with the Division of Enforcement for nineteen years. As the Chief, his roles include oversight of the National FPCA program, coordination with domestic and foreign law enforcement, and supervision of individual investigations. During his tenure with the SEC, he has also been responsible for numerous significant cases in other areas including financial fraud, insider trading, offering fraud, market manipulation, disclosure fraud, and broker dealer practices. Mr. Cain is a graduate of The George Washington University Law School.


David Pitluck is a Deputy Chief of the Business and Securities Fraud Section at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.  David has investigated and prosecuted a wide variety of criminal matters against both individuals and entities, including fraud involving publicly-traded companies, securities fraud, investment adviser fraud insider trading, mortgage fraud, market manipulation, tax crimes, money laundering, cyber-enabled crime and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  Prior to his appointment to the Business and Securities Fraud Section, David prosecuted and tried multiple cases involving violent criminal enterprises, resulting in several defendants’ convictions of murder and firearm- and narcotics-related offenses.

Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, David was a litigation associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York; served as a Special Assistant District Attorney for the Kings’ County District Attorney’s Office; and worked as an investment banker in New York.  David received his J.D. from Columbia Law School, his B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MSc and LLM from the London School of Economics and Political Science.