News

Harter Secrest & Emery Creates Practice Group to Focus on Government and Internal Investigations

February 25, 2013

Amid increasing federal and state oversight and aggressive enforcement efforts across industries, Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) announced that it has created a practice group dedicated to defending clients facing government investigations or prosecution and experienced in conducting internal investigations designed to identify and reduce risks in advance of government enforcement. The group includes a core of former government attorneys and prosecutors who served throughout the federal government, including Carol E. Heckman as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Buffalo and Justice Department trial attorney in Washington, D.C., Brian M. Feldman as Senior Litigation Counsel in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, Erika N. D. Stanat as a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army JAG Corps, and Jeffrey A. Wadsworth as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in Washington, D.C. Ms. Heckman, who served as a federal magistrate judge before becoming a partner in the firm’s Buffalo office, leads the group.

Among other things, the group has a wealth of experience in handling matters under the state and federal False Claims Acts, which impose steep penalties for false claims and statements tied to the receipt of government funds, such as Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, defense and other government contracting payments, or government grant funds. In addition to former government attorneys experienced in False Claims Act investigations and litigation, the group includes health care attorneys with decades of experience advising clients in False Claims Act and related matters, including Thomas G. Smith and Patrick Pullano, both recognized by their peers as leading lawyers in health care, as well as Richard T. Yarmel, who joined HSE with more than 30 years of health care experience in October 2012.

“The specter of a government investigation, and the investigation itself, can have dramatic effects on an organization, and resolving a government investigation can be equally challenging,” Heckman said. “Government investigations may begin with a letter or subpoena, a phone call from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, or FBI agents knocking on your door. As a practice group, our focus is twofold. First, we work with clients who become aware of significant problems and help them assess their possible exposure and reduce their risks. We also represent organizations that have come under investigation to ensure that they respond to investigations in the most effective manner possible.”

The creation of the Government and Internal Investigations practice group formalizes work that the firm has been doing for many years, and capitalizes on the strength and depth of experience of the team’s attorneys. For instance, HSE has recently defended clients against government investigations into alleged violations of health care, civil rights, antitrust, lobbying, and employee benefit plan laws. In each of these categories, the group offers deep experience, with a full complement of health care legal professionals, Brian M. Feldman’s experience enforcing and defending civil rights laws, HSE Senior Antitrust Counsel David A. Wier’s 25 years as chief antitrust counsel at a Fortune 100 company, Donald S. Mazzullo’s three decades of lobbying experience, and the employee benefit plan expertise of HSE lawyers Thomas J. Hurley, Erika N. D. Stanat, Mark R. Wilson, Leslie E. Desmarteau, and Joseph E. Simpson. The group has also represented colleges, universities, and academic medical centers, and includes David M. Lascell, who has a national reputation in higher education law based, in part, on his Supreme Court advocacy on behalf of educational institutions and his role in founding an insurance company covering education-specific risks.