Criminal enforcement has stepped up in recent years in the areas of securities and finance, antitrust, tax, foreign contracting and Food and Drug Administration regulation. Harsh penalties such as stiff fines and lengthy incarcerations are being sought and sometimes obtained against business executives.
We have unparalleled experience guiding individuals and corporations, large and small, through the treacherous waters of criminal investigations and trials. For more than three decades, white collar criminal defense has been a core part of our practice, and our attorneys have been nationally heralded as top practitioners in the field. Much of our criminal work results in favorable resolutions before a case goes to trial or becomes public.
John Keker and Jan Nielsen Little were awarded the NACDL's White Collar Criminal Defense Award in 2014.
Chambers lists Keker & Van Nest as one of the top white collar litigation firms in the country, and has individually recognized John Keker, Elliot Peters and Jan Nielsen Little as Leading Lawyers in White Collar Crime and Government Investigations.
John Keker, Robert Van Nest, Jan Little, Elliot Peters and Stuart Gasner are listed in the Best Lawyers guide for White Collar Criminal Defense.
Legal 500 described the firm as "peopled with a preponderance of outstanding trial lawyers ... the team excels at representing high-level company executives in criminal trials across the waterfront of offences including securities fraud and insider trading."
Cases of Note
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Former Chief Executive Officer:
We are currently defending the former CEO of Fannie Mae in an SEC action filed in the Southern District of New York related to Fannie Mae’s disclosures regarding its exposure to “subprime” and “Alt-A” residential mortgages.
United States v. Executive:
Our client hired us two months after his four-week trial resulted in a conviction for bid-rigging conspiracy and obstruction of justice. We were hired for post-trial motions, sentencing and appeal. Within two weeks, the judge granted our motion for a judgment of acquittal on the obstruction count pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 29. We are currently working to secure a new trial on the antitrust conspiracy conviction.
United States v. Chief Financial Officer:
We represented the Chief Financial Officer of an energy company in a three-year, high-profile investigation spanning multiple jurisdictions. Ultimately, no charges were filed against our client.
United States v. Lance Armstrong:
We represented American cyclist and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice's investigation into professional cycling, which terminated on February 3, 2012 with the announcement that there would be no charges and the investigation was being closed.
United States v. Executive:
We defended a high-ranking company official in one of the nation’s first criminal stock options backdating cases to go to trial. We obtained the dismissal of the majority of the charges. Our client was sentenced to 60 days imprisonment on the remaining charges.
United States v. Investment Banker:
We defended a former Silicon Valley investment banker on obstruction of justice charges. After two trials and a successful appeal, all charges were deferred. Related charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the National Association of Securities Dealers were also dismissed.
Department of Justice v. Major League Baseball Players Association:
We successfully represented the Major League Baseball Players Association in its high-profile battle with the U.S. government. In August 2009, an en banc panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal investigators unlawfully seized drug-testing records of more than 100 athletes. In September 2010, the court issued a revised opinion that upheld its ruling.
United States v. Former Chief Executive Officer:
We represented the former CEO of a public company in a criminal investigation, a Securities and Exchange Commission suit, a derivative shareholder suit, a breach of contract suit by our client against his former company, and that company's counterclaim for hundreds of millions. All of these matters were related to the company's historical stock option granting practices. We resolved all of the matters against our client with net payments of more than $10 million to our client.
Securities and Exchange Commission v. Former Chief Financial Officer:
We represented a chief financial officer charged in one of the largest criminal securities fraud cases in recent U.S. history. We represented him in the criminal and administrative investigations, as well as in parallel civil litigation. Following pretrial litigation, our client pled guilty and received a six-year prison sentence. Civil litigation was favorably settled.
United States v. Bruce Karatz:
We represented the former CEO of a public company in a criminal stock options backdating trial. Following a six-week trial in Los Angeles federal court, jurors acquitted our client on 16 of 20 counts. A federal judge then threw out one of two mail fraud counts. Despite the government's recommendation of a six year prison term, our client only received eight months of home confinement and a fine.