News

Top Defense Lawyers Join Arnold & Porter's White Collar Group

March 10, 2010

Former Federal Prosecutors John Nassikas and Baruch Weiss Bring Substantial Experience at Trial and Appellate Levels in Federal Criminal and Enforcement Actions; Laura Lester Has Extensive Background in Corporate Investigations

Washington, DC, March 10, 2010 -- In response to increased demand for white collar expertise, Arnold & Porter LLP has strengthened its white collar criminal defense practice with the addition of two partners, John Nassikas and Baruch Weiss, and counsel Laura Lester, all of whom have joined the firm in Washington, DC.

Mr. Nassikas is a former Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (1991-1995) and headed the white collar defense and government investigations practice group at his former firm. He advises and defends companies, executives, and foreign governments and handles complex parallel criminal and civil litigations and internal corporate investigations, particularly in the areas of healthcare fraud, financial fraud, antitrust, and securities enforcement. He will be undertaking the lead coordinating role for Arnold & Porter's white collar group. Mr. Weiss has held senior positions at the US Department of Homeland Security and the US Treasury, and served as an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1984-2002). He represents individuals, national and international corporations, and a foreign government in a variety of matters, including parallel SEC and DOJ securities fraud investigations, FCPA investigations, criminal and civil OFAC enforcement matters, internal investigations, public corruption prosecutions, and criminal and administrative immigration enforcement actions against employers. Ms. Lester represents individual and institutional clients in federal and state criminal healthcare, antitrust, public corruption, and government contracts investigations nationwide.

"Our partners knew John, Baruch, and Laura from their previous work, and the fit with our practice is especially good," said Arnold & Porter Chair Thomas Milch. "We are particularly excited about their helping us in areas in which we are already strong, including investigations relating to our healthcare, financial services, antitrust, securities enforcement, government contracts, and national and homeland security practices."

Mr. Nassikas and Mr. Weiss won a historic victory in 2009 in the foremost First Amendment prosecution, the so-called "AIPAC Espionage Act case," brought by the Justice Department against two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in an effort to impose secrecy in the name of national security on private citizens. The case had been the subject of numerous editorials and opinion pieces in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and other major newspapers. Earning praise from the presiding judge for "zealously and very effectively" pursuing the defense with "vigor," they won a series of judicial rulings both in the district court and the court of appeals making the case virtually impossible for the prosecution to win. After ten years of investigation and prosecution, the Justice Department dropped the case shortly before trial.

When Mr. Nassikas served as Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, he was responsible for major felony prosecutions, from grand jury through trial and appeal, in areas including financial, telecommunications, and government contracts fraud. In recent years, Mr. Nassikas has defended a wide range of companies in the United States and abroad and numerous individuals including government officials, lobbyists, doctors, lawyers, accountants, and corporate employees in investigations by federal and state prosecutors nationwide. He currently leads defense teams in complex medical device and pharmaceutical company investigations and in large criminal antitrust, government contracts, and SEC enforcement probes.

While at the US Department of Homeland Security (2003-2006), Mr. Weiss served as Acting Deputy General Counsel, overseeing all of the department's legal issues and its 1,400 attorneys. He served as Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement at the US Department of the Treasury (2002-2003), where he managed the legal work of more than 250 attorneys and oversaw matters relating to customs enforcement, customs trade, criminal law, and national security. As an Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mr. Weiss investigated and prosecuted, at both the district court and appellate level, cases involving securities fraud, bank fraud, healthcare fraud, wire and mail fraud, money laundering, public corruption, RICO, and tax evasion. He also handled a number of significant terrorism matters.

Ms. Lester has notable experience representing corporations and individuals in complex multijurisdictional criminal litigations and internal investigations in the areas of FDA enforcement and healthcare fraud, government contracts, public corruption, and antitrust. In private practice, she has managed criminal cases in all phases, from grand jury proceedings through trial. Ms. Lester's recent work includes leading defense teams in large FDA criminal litigations as well as representing numerous individuals and organizations in investigations by DOJ's Public Integrity Section, HUD's Office of Inspector General, DOJ's Antitrust Division, GAO, and federal prosecutors around the country and at the Justice Department in Washington, DC.

The attorneys in Arnold & Porter's white collar criminal defense practice represent corporations and individuals, both in the United States and internationally, in grand jury and administrative enforcement proceedings, compliance programs, criminal trials, and internal investigations. The team works in concert with members of the litigation group, public policy practitioners and lawyers with experience in such fields as antitrust, healthcare, food and drug, financial institutions, securities, government contracts, national security, tax,corporate law, and environmental law.

Last year, Arnold & Porter expanded its white collar practice when Marcus Asner, former Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who served as Chief of the Major Crimes and Computer Hacking/Intellectual Property Unit, joined the firm in New York. In addition to Mr. Asner, prominent members of the team include Craig Stewart, former Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division and Chief Appellate Attorney for the Criminal Division in the Southern District of New York (1987-1998), and James W. Cooper, former Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in the US Attorney's Office in the District of Columbia, Assistant US Attorney, and Trial Attorney in DOJ's Public Integrity Section (1994-2007).

Arnold & Porter LLP, an international law firm of more than 675 attorneys, has offices in Brussels, Denver, London, Los Angeles, New York, Northern Virginia, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. The firm, founded in 1946, maintains more than 25 practice areas spanning a broad spectrum of the law, with a primary focus on litigation, transactional matters, and regulatory issues.


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