Government Enforcement and White-Collar Defense

Overview

When facing government scrutiny, businesses, nonprofits, and individuals turn to Robinson+Cole's Government Enforcement and White-Collar Defense Team. We understand that the government often comes knocking without warning, and for decades we have navigated clients through the uncertainties of complex civil, criminal, and administrative investigations and enforcement actions around the country. Our clients come from myriad industries, including manufacturing, health care, financial services, education, construction, and technology.

Our Services and Our Team

The firm's Government Enforcement and White-Collar Defense Team comprises lawyers with extensive experience handling all types of government disputes. We routinely represent clients in the investigative phase, which involve measures such as civil investigative demands, grand jury subpoenas, and search warrants. As government scrutiny of the private sector has intensified, so has our work defending clients against adversarial enforcement actions, which have run the gamut from cease and desist orders to administrative and civil hearings to criminal jury trials.  Although we have extensive trial experience against the government, we believe—particularly in heavily-regulated industries or when government contracts are at issue—that it is equally important to engage in early efforts with regulators to pursue alternative solutions that impose only the most reasonable burdens on our clients, using measures such as consent agreements, deferred prosecution agreements, and nonprosecution agreements to amicably resolve disputes, including those in which the amounts at issue reached nine figures

As a result of our team's experience in these matters and our credibility with government personnel overseeing enforcement actions, we are frequently engaged to advise our clients on compliance practices and programs, as well as internal compliance investigations.   

Our team has represented clients in connection with matters involving federal and state agencies, including the following:

• the United States Department of Justice, including Offices of the United States Attorneys, the Office of Special Counsel (Special Counsel: Robert Mueller), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation

• the Department of Health and Human Services 

• the Federal Trade Commission 

• the Department of Defense 

• the Internal Revenue Service

• federal and state banking and financial services regulators, including the SEC and FINRA

• federal and state environmental regulators, including the Environmental Protection Agency

• federal and state Departments of Labor

• Customs and Border Protection

• the Office of Civil Rights

• state insurance regulators

• state attorneys general and consumer protection agencies  

Banking and Financial Services

In the last ten years, federal and state regulators have brought the banking and financial services industries under intense scrutiny. With experience in regulatory examinations, investigations, enforcement proceedings, and litigation, we represent the full spectrum of businesses in this industry, from publicly traded national banks to investment firms to accounting firms.

Our team has been called upon by a number of national mortgage companies to defend them from serious government claims potentially threatening their continued ability to operate. We have been involved in some of the most significant and contentious proceedings launched by state financial regulators in recent years and have been successful in defending and ultimately negotiating the settlement of government claims on terms that have allowed our clients to continue to conduct business. Our success on behalf of our clients stems from a team approach that capitalizes on our deep industry experience balanced with regulatory and litigation experience that serves our clients well. Our team also defends clients that are targets or witnesses in investigations by financial services regulators, including the SEC and FINRA.

False Claims Act/Government Contracting Disputes

The federal government increasingly has used the False Claims Act to enforce compliance with a variety of federal statutes and regulations against companies that either contract with or receive funding from the federal government. We have represented clients in an array of False Claims Act matters and related investigations. Our team possesses experience with industries that are frequently the focus of False Claims Act enforcement, including health care, defense, aerospace, manufacturing, construction, and technology, and with the complexities of the False Claims Act statute. 

Foreign Corrupt Practice Act/Trade Compliance

We regularly advise manufacturers and other businesses on compliance with U.S. export and import regulations, including the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) as well as on the development of trade compliance policies and procedures. We assist clients in assessing the risks associated with sanctions regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which includes providing guidance to U.S. companies on financial transactions having potential sanction country involvement and anticorruption risk and in reviewing and developing anticorruption compliance procedures.

Health Care

We represent providers and other companies in the health care sector in a variety of government enforcement matters, including the following:

  • clients facing allegations of fraudulent billing, anti-kickback violations, and other health care fraud
  • clients facing exposure under the False Claims Act due to health care fraud allegations
  • providers facing audits or other inquiries from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, the Department of Justice, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and state Medicaid programs.
  • law enforcement investigations of criminal allegations involving hospital, practices, physicians, and DME companies, including investigations concerning the opioid crisis. 

Attorney General Enforcement Actions/Consumer Protection
Our team has experience dealing with investigations and enforcement actions brought by various states’ attorneys general, whether the potential exposure was civil or criminal in nature. These matters most often arise in the consumer protection context, and we have counseled and litigated to bring successful conclusions to these disputes for business across myriad industries.

Environmental

We represent companies in environmental and worker safety investigations and prosecutions conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Labor, Coast Guard and ultimately the Department of Justice, as well as their state equivalents across the country. We have defended clients in enforcement matters involving air, water, solid and hazardous waste, and worker health and safety. We draft sophisticated and defensible compliance programs, respond to multimedia inspections and search warrants, negotiate resolutions of enforcement actions or vigorously defend them, and conduct thorough internal investigations involving all manner of environmental issues. We routinely work with a network of highly skilled environmental consultants and engineers who possess a deep understanding of the complex technical regulatory framework that governs environmental compliance. 

Tax

In connection with investigatory matters involving federal (the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Unit) and/or state taxing authorities, our team works with both corporate and individual taxpayers to establish, document, and minimize tax liabilities. These tax liabilities may take the form of underpayments of tax, penalties, and interest due. Civil tax liability may arise both when the client is the target or begins as a witness in an investigation. Our team is well versed in assembling voluntary disclosures to minimize tax liability before demand is made by a taxing authority, and we also have extensive experience working with forensic accountants to determine liability where records may be incomplete or lacking. Regardless of the scope of the potential tax exposure, our team takes a careful and deliberate client-focused approach. 

Education/Civil Rights

We represent a variety of educational institutions, ranging from training programs to private secondary schools to large public and private universities, both in the United States and overseas. These institutions face complex regulatory, fiduciary, and ethical challenges ranging from Office of Civil Rights investigations to law enforcement investigations. Our experience includes representing clients in a variety of matters involving alleged employee misconduct in investigations of data security breaches by the U.S. Department of Education.  

Political Corruption/Elections Disputes

Our team has served as legal counsel to municipalities, government officials, and political organizations in a wide variety of investigations and litigation involving elected officials and elections.   

White-Collar Criminal Defense

Our team represents companies, municipal entities, and individuals in all manner of white-collar cases, including antitrust, contracting fraud, mail and wire fraud, public corruption. We also represent clients in non–white-collar criminal cases. Our lawyers have been appointed by courts to represent clients in serious felony cases, including death penalty–eligible crimes, through jury trials.

    • Experience
      • Routinely represent nonprofit and for-profit institutional clients in various industries (for example, health care, accounting, financial services/banking, manufacturing, consumer, and education) in connection with civil and criminal federal investigations in Connecticut and Massachusetts involving the United States Attorney's Office, the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Labor, and state attorneys general.

      • Obtained an acquittal for a corporate client after an eight-week federal antitrust trial. The government had alleged a customer and geographic market allocation scheme in the waste hauling industry in Connecticut.

      • Obtained the acquittal of an attorney charged with defrauding the Internal Revenue Service.

      • Successfully defended a corporate executive in a three-week federal criminal trial in which the government had alleged contracting fraud. The government claimed that client had engaged in a scheme to defraud the government in connection with the sale of rocket fuel. The jury took less than 30 minutes to acquit.

      • Obtained the acquittal of a chemical manufacturing company that had been charged with criminal violations of the State Environmental Protection Statute.

      • Obtained the acquittal of a precious metals recovery company that had been charged with criminal negligence in the death of an employee.

      • Successfully represented durable medical equipment company in connection with joint federal and state investigation and related False Claims Act lawsuit filed in federal court against the company. Following extensive investigation and negotiation, the matter was successfully concluded with a settlement at a small fraction of the potential exposure and the government's initial demand.

      • Represented Rhode Island construction company in connection with claims that the company was defrauding the federal government in connection with an ongoing project. After conducting an internal investigation for the company, we worked with the company to prepare a self-disclosure to the federal government demonstrating the isolated nature of the issue and the company's remedial action. In response, the federal government decided to take no action whatsoever against our client. 

      • Counseled Rhode Island medical practice in connection with government investigation related to alleged fraudulent billing. As a result of our prompt and targeted internal investigation, which was conducted contemporaneously with the government's investigation, we were able to identify the source of the incorrect allegations and shared that with law enforcement, leading to the closure of the investigation of our client with no adverse action against it. 

      • Represented consumer-facing company in joint investigation and lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission and the Connecticut Attorney General's Office regarding nationwide Internet marketing practices. Ultimately negotiated a favorable financial resolution and settlement terms.

      • Obtained for a manufacturing client a declination of prosecution in a substantial environmental investigation by the Connecticut United States Attorney’s Office and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

      • Represented corporate officer during all stages of criminal investigation and federal prosecution by United States Attorney's Office. Argued for and obtained non-United States Sentencing Guidelines and nonjail sentence for corporate officer.

      • Represented lead defendant in multiweek federal murder and drug conspiracy trial. The defendant was accused of serving as the leader of a gang in Hartford's North End and participating in a related murder.

      • Represented Criminal Justice Act clients through all stages of federal prosecution by the United States Attorney's Office.  

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