Government and Internal Investigations

HSE provides strategic counsel to corporate and individual clients facing government investigations, and we vigorously defend clients subject to potential prosecution or other enforcement actions. Whether responding to a government investigation or acting proactively to avoid a problem, we regularly conduct internal investigations to advise clients of any potential exposure, and to guide clients to optimal outcomes. Likewise, we perform independent investigations as special counsel to businesses or their boards seeking advice from an objective source, and we successfully partner with federal and state law enforcement to facilitate prosecutions for victims of fraud.

We have assembled a deep bench of exceptionally qualified attorneys of all levels, many of whom cut their teeth at Am Law 100 firms, gained important insights from judicial clerkships, or served in strategically important government positions such as Justice Department officials, an Assistant U.S. Attorney, and a Judge Advocate in the U.S. Army JAG Corps, before joining HSE.

Civil, Regulatory, and Criminal Investigations
HSE represents individual and corporate clients in a wide range of federal, state, and local investigations. Our attorneys have experience in civil, regulatory, and criminal investigations and in handling antitrust, civil rights, health care, fraud, securities, and tax evasion investigations, among others. Whether our clients are potential defendants, targets, subjects, witnesses, or victims, we provide them with our expertise and insight to understand the nature of the government investigations they face, and with strategic support in navigating investigations to obtain the best possible outcomes.  In short, we robustly protect our clients’ rights in challenging circumstances.

Our lawyers regularly defend clients under investigation by federal and state enforcement agencies.  At the federal level, this includes investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and various U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of State and its Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Education and its Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Labor, among others.  Within New York State, our lawyers have handled investigations by the New York State Attorney General and its Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, various District Attorneys’ Offices, the New York State Office of the Medicaid Inspector General, the New York State Department of Health, New York State Department of Education, and the New York State Department of State, the State Board of Elections, and the Joint Committee on Public Ethics, among others.

Complex Government Settlements
Government investigations often result in settlements that may include non-prosecution agreements, consent decrees, money judgments, corporate integrity agreements, or court-appointed monitors. These settlements may be complex, and their terms may span months or years. At HSE, our attorneys are experienced in negotiating government settlements to achieve results in our clients’ best interest. We guide clients through the crucial processes of obtaining a settlement and, where necessary, administering those settlements after their execution.

Employee Benefit Plan Investigations
Employee benefit plans are subject to a myriad of complex rules and regulations. The Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation have vigorous examination procedures to ensure that these plans are in compliance with the law. These government agencies have broad powers to impose penalties for non-compliance. HSE has considerable experience representing plan sponsors and fiduciaries in government investigations of employee benefit plans. We guide clients through the entire audit process from the initiation of the investigation until final conclusion, including negotiations to reduce or eliminate penalties wherever possible.

False Claims Act/Qui Tam Litigation
Perhaps the most powerful tools in the government’s arsenal are federal and state laws known as False Claims Acts. These statutes enable the federal and state governments to recover treble damages plus statutory penalties for claims wrongfully paid by governments. In addition, these statutes provide for qui tam actions, in which whistleblowers (or relators) may commence a lawsuit and collect a portion of any judgment or settlement.

HSE has an established track record of representing clients, including health care professionals and health care systems, federal contractors, and government grantees and subsidy recipients in assessing possible exposure under the False Claims Act, self-reporting and negotiating settlements, and responding to investigations and lawsuits by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the New York Attorney General’s Office, in particular, New York’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU). Our attorneys have experience in defending clients in all types of False Claims Act cases and are well-positioned to guide clients in these cases.

Internal Investigations and Independent Investigations
HSE conducts effective internal investigations for clients where a potential government investigation is anticipated or where wrongdoing within a business is suspected. Through our internal investigations, we advise clients on how to handle difficult situations by providing them with realistic assessments of their exposure along with practical advice as to how to craft the most effective response. In response to serious allegations against a company’s management, a board of directors or an audit committee is often best served by retaining an outside law firm without pre-existing engagements with the company. In those cases, HSE serves as independent outside counsel for new clients seeking advice from a neutral source through independent investigations. Representative clients include health care providers (e.g., hospitals and hospital systems, nursing homes, clinics, and physician practices), colleges and universities, and financial institutions.

Government Subpoena Response
Government investigations often begin with a subpoena. At HSE, our attorneys not only guide clients through the subpoena response process, but also help our clients understand what the subpoena reveals about the government’s investigation. We have experience with federal and state subpoenas, including grand jury subpoenas, civil investigative demands (CIDs), administrative agency and inspector general subpoenas, Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) subpoenas, and health care fraud subpoenas. We lead clients in responding to all such demands for documents or testimony, ensuring that they fully comply with their legal obligations without sacrificing any of their rights.  We make sure they are well positioned to gain the trust of law enforcement without running afoul of the myriad privacy and disclosure laws that govern their response.

Government Relations Compliance
Complex rules at the federal and state level govern lobbying activities and campaign finance. Violations of those rules may subject businesses and individuals to severe criminal and civil sanctions. At HSE, we have maintained an active lobbying practice for more than twenty-five years and are well versed in the myriad lobbying and campaign finance rules and regulations. We have aided clients in responding to federal oversight entities, such as the Federal Election Commission and the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as New York State authorities, including the New York Joint Commission on Public Ethics and the New York Board of Elections.

Through consent decrees, corporate integrity agreements, or otherwise, courts and regulators may require businesses to implement prospective measures in order to resolve government investigations. These measures may often include the retention or appointment of a monitor to ensure compliance with legal obligations. HSE’s attorneys, including its team of former government lawyers, have the investigative experience and integrity to serve as retained or court-appointed monitors.

Our Clients

  • Businesses
  • Publicly-Traded Companies
  • Individual corporate officers or board members
  • Government contractors
  • Health care professionals
  • Health systems and hospitals
  • Colleges, universities, and academic medical centers
  • Private, public, and charter schools
  • Not-for-profit organizations
  • Associations
  • Victims of fraud

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This website presents only general information not intended as legal advice. Although we encourage calls, letters and emails from prospective clients, please keep in mind that merely contacting Harter Secrest & Emery LLP (HSE) does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Confidential information should not be sent to HSE until you have been notified in writing by HSE that a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Information sent to us before then may not be treated as confidential by HSE or the court.

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