Valarie Hays leads the Chicago office’s White Collar Defense & Investigations practice. Ms. Hays is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who represents companies and individuals in government inquiries and complex commercial litigation. She also conducts corporate internal investigations and advises clients on the execution of their compliance programs across a broad range of industry sectors, including healthcare, financial services, retail, and oil and gas. A first chair trial lawyer, Ms. Hays has tried 17 jury trials over the course of her career.

Ms. Hays has deep experience handling matters involving alleged violations of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) and cases involving allegations of money laundering, bank fraud, auction fraud, violations of the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, public corruption, bankruptcy fraud, tax fraud, and antitrust violations. Her civil litigation practice involves complex matters across the country in both federal and state courts, where she has consistently achieved favorable results for her clients. She is known for her strong courtroom presence and ability to find and leverage the hidden weaknesses in the government’s and her opponent’s cases.

Experience

  • Financial institution in DOJ and OCC investigation of lending practices and BSA/AML program.
  • Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in multiple litigation matters and investigations involving alleged negligence and wrongdoing by bank directors and officers.
  • Financial institution in investigation related to a bank executive’s alleged involvement in a multi-million dollar Ponzi and bank fraud scheme.
  • Bank executive in a DOJ and OIG/SBA case charging client with SBA loan fraud.  Obtained complete dismissal of all charges against client. 
  • Global device manufacturer in an investigation related to allegations of false statements to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents.
  • Global device manufacturer in investigation related to alleged FCA violations for billing Medicare for equipment after customers were deceased.
  • Global device manufacturer in multiple investigations related to allegations of employee misconduct, including violations of the company’s conflict of interest policies, falsification of work orders, whistleblower retaliation, workplace safety, and theft of proprietary information.
  • Global device manufacturer in developing and monitoring its compliance program to ensure compliance with federal healthcare program requirements and a Corporate Integrity Agreement.
  • Global device manufacturer in a global FCPA risk assessment of operations in Germany, India, United Arab Emirates (“UAE”), China, and Singapore.
  • Corporate provider of skilled nursing facilities in a DOJ investigation involving allegations of FCA and Anti-Kickback Statute violations committed by the company’s top executives. Obtained prosecution declination for the company.
  • Corporate provider of skilled nursing facilities in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) lawsuit. Obtained favorable settlements for client.
  • Doctor in DOJ FCA investigation related to allegations of billing Medicare for unnecessary full body patient scans. Obtained prosecution declination for client.
  • Private university in conducting an assessment related to its department of safety and security’s community engagement in the wake of the George Floyd murder.
  • Private university in investigating and responding to a student death after hazing incidents.
  • Education tutoring company and its president in a DOJ False Claims Act investigation related to allegations of artificially inflating the number of student tutoring hours.
  • Employee of public school system in an investigation involving allegations of bribing school officials for admission into selective enrollment high schools.
  • Police department in investigating internal complaints of harassment and discrimination and evaluating the department’s policies and procedures.
  • Hospital in investigating and responding to a hostage situation.
  • Automotive component manufacturer and its CEO in DOJ Antitrust investigation related to allegations of bid rigging. Obtained prosecution declination for the company and CEO.
  • Flooring company in DOJ Antitrust investigation related to allegations of bid rotation.
  • Gas company under federal investigation for Clean Water Act violations. Obtained prosecution declination for the company.
  • Chemical manufacturer employees related to investigation of the company by OSHA and the Chemical Safety Board related to a plant explosion that killed four individuals.
  • Electric company sued by the DOJ for violations of the New Source Review, Prevention of Significant Deterioration provisions of the Clean Air Act.
  • Corporate executives in government investigations and litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Real estate developer charged with felony Clean Air Act violations. The government ultimately dismissed the charges based on successful defense.
  • Chemical company in a structuring investigation.
  • General contractor and its president in DOJ investigation related to alleged Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) fraud.
  • Heating and cooling company and its owners in City of Chicago investigation related to alleged Minority Business Enterprise (“MBE”) and Women Business Enterprise (“WBE”) fraud.
  • Global hotel supply distributor in lawsuit alleging fraud and breach of contract. Obtained dismissal of complaint for client.
  • Global hotel supply distributor in developing and monitoring its anti-bribery compliance program.
  • Global airline company in conducting FCPA risk assessment and developing and monitoring third party due diligence program.
  • Real estate investment trust that specializes in the ownership and management of health care facilities in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in conducting compliance program risk assessment, including FCPA risk assessment.
  • Wire manufacturer in an investigation related to allegations that the client’s joint venture partner provided bribes to foreign government officials.
  • Defense technology company manager in DOJ FCA investigation related to allegations of a widespread practice of improperly billing for on-call employee time overseas. Obtained immunity deal for client.
  • Global consumer goods company in a product liability lawsuit alleging that one of the company’s hair relaxer products caused permanent hair loss due to containing ammonium thioglycolate.
  • Retailer of animal health products in lawsuit related to non-compete agreements.
  • Local government agency in investigation related to allegations that the former General Counsel was receiving improper benefits.
  • Organization governing intercollegiate activities in investigation related to whistleblower allegations of improper benefits to a group of college students.
  • Electronics company in investigation related to employee accounting improprieties to cover up theft of electronic goods.
  • Former Michigan State University professor charged with wire fraud. Trial resulted in a hung jury that ultimately led to the government dismissing all charges against him.
  • Oil and gas trader charged with market manipulation. The government ultimately dismissed the charges based on successful defense.
  • Owner of auction house charged with auction fraud.
  • Accountants in a federal investigation and trial related to allegations that one of their clients, an aircraft leasing company, engaged in investor fraud and obstructed a SEC investigation.

Perspectives

BitConnect Enforcement Actions Demonstrate SEC and DOJ’s Regulatory Authority in Cryptocurrency Arena
Enforcement Edge: Shining Light on Government Enforcement
Fireside Chat with Ramona Romero, General Counsel of Princeton University
Moderator, Harvard Law Society of Illinois
View on Current Issues in Education
Panelist, League of Women Voters
Maintaining Motivation in the Heart of the Pandemic
Panelist, Harvard Law Society of Illinois Webinar
Trends in Public Safety Reform
Deerfield Rotary Club
More

Recognition

Chambers USA
Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations (Illinois) (2021)
Thomson Reuters
Illinois Super Lawyers, (2017-2021)
Illinois Rising Stars (2013-2015)
Crain’s Chicago Business
Chicago’s Notable Women in Law, (2020)
More

Credentials

Education
  • JD, Harvard Law School
  • BA, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, summa cum laude
Admissions
  • Illinois
  • Northern District of Illinois Trial Bar
  • US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
  • US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
  • US District Court, Northern District of Florida
  • US District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • US District Court, Southern District of Indiana
  • US District Court, Western District of Michigan
Government & Military Service
  • Assistant US Attorney, Chicago
Clerkships
  • US District Court, Northern District of Illinois, The Honorable Suzanne Conlon
Activities
  • American Bar Association, Section of Litigation
  • Former Board of Directors, Finance and Governance Committee, Federal Bar Association
  • Board of Directors, Harvard Law Society of Illinois
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • Women’s White Collar Defense Association (WWCDA)
Overview

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