Insights & News

White-Collar Defense Alert, July 2019
Be In the Know: The Future of White-Collar Enforcement in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

July 12, 2019
Client Alert

On July 10, William M. McSwain, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA), presented an overview of the current status and future developments for white-collar enforcement in this district. U.S. Attorney McSwain emphasized that white-collar cases are a focus for his office as it has the resources and the sophisticated means to prosecute these more complex matters. The U.S. Attorney also made clear that white-collar enforcement efforts would focus on protecting the integrity of our financial markets.

During his remarks to members of the white-collar defense bar, U.S. Attorney McSwain provided a brief analysis of the statistics since he has been in office, which demonstrated an overall increase in the number of cases and the number of defendants charged, including white-collar prosecutions which have increased by roughly 30% in the last year.

A continued increase in white-collar crime enforcement in the district is centered around the following matters that are now a priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in EDPA:

(1) matters that involve defendants in a position of trust, i.e., lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc.;

(2) matters related to individual liability in a corporate context, where the office will prosecute individuals in cases of corporate misconduct if the facts and evidence support such charges;

(3) violations of securities laws; and

(4) criminal tax enforcement.

U.S. Attorney McSwain also emphasized significant civil enforcement efforts that have a direct correlation to fraud investigations. The Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Strike Force has been created within the office’s civil division to investigate, and if necessary, file lawsuits to prosecute fraud and abuse against government programs. The U.S. Attorney asserted that his office has opened more affirmative civil cases in the first seven months of 2019 than were opened in all of 2018. A large number of these cases relate to various provisions of the False Claims Act and many times are based on information supplied by a qui tam relator. U.S. Attorney McSwain further emphasized the office’s intention to increase its utilization of the Health Care Strike Force to focus on criminal fraud in this industry. Both civil and criminal enforcement in the healthcare sector appear to be a priority in the EDPA.

Another key takeaway for corporations under investigation in the EDPA is that the U.S. Attorney’s Office does not have a standing policy on Deferred Prosecution Agreements (a disposition that resolves criminal conduct without a conviction pending the fulfillment of certain requirements). Although U.S. Attorney McSwain indicated that it would be a rare occurrence for a case to resolve through such an agreement, he stated that his office would be willing to consider a Deferred Prosecution Agreement in an appropriate case.

Finally, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in EDPA has instituted a new procedure designed to monitor the length of time white-collar investigations take prior to declination or indictment. The new office policy monitors for any white-collar investigation that has been in the office for 18 months and then creates a tracking system for supervisors to regularly follow up with the assigned Assistant U.S. Attorney as to the status of the case. While some cases may need an extended period of time to be prosecuted, U.S. Attorney McSwain made clear that his office is focused on resolving matters in an expeditious manner.

There is no doubt that U.S. Attorney McSwain’s future white-collar enforcement agenda includes the investigation and prosecution of a wide variety of conduct impacting numerous industries. Individuals and entities who find themselves under investigation in the EDPA will require the assistance of knowledgeable and experienced white-collar defense counsel. If faced with the daunting task of navigating a federal criminal investigation or prosecution, contact Stradley Ronon whose white-collar defense team is comprised of uniquely qualified attorneys who can guide you through any civil or criminal enforcement matter.

Information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice or opinion or as a substitute for the advice of counsel. The articles by these authors may have first appeared in other publications. The content provided is for educational and informational purposes for the use of clients and others who may be interested in the subject matter. We recommend that readers seek specific advice from counsel about particular matters of interest.

Copyright © 2019 Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, LLP. All rights reserved.

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