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Preston L. Pugh

Partner

ppugh@crowell.com
Phone: +1 202.624.2669
1001 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004-2595

Preston L. Pugh is a trial and investigations lawyer with extensive prosecutorial, complex internal and government-initiated investigations and high profile court-appointed monitor experience. Preston represents corporations in multiple stages of crisis management, often in cases that have a complex employment component. He has extensive experience handling matters involving the civil False Claims Act (FCA), misstatements of financials, workplace violence, trade secrets disputes, regulatory inspections, the full range of employment discrimination litigation, and insider threats. He is a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office, working with the Government Contracts, White Collar and Regulatory Enforcement, Labor and Employment, and Health Care groups. Preston is also a member of the FCA Steering Committee.

As a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, senior compliance investigations counsel at GE Healthcare responsible for global investigations and commercial litigation, and a seasoned compliance monitor, Preston uses his diverse experience to assist clients operating in competitive and complex markets. He helps clients understand not only whether "noncompliance" occurred, but also the root cause of the concern – not just "putting out fires," but finding an efficient, effective solution that resonates with regulators, eliminates excessive risk in specific areas, and constructs enduring cultural change.

He was appointed by a federal district court in one of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) largest monitorships to date involving racial discrimination and harassment. At the conclusion of the monitorship, the district court observed, "You're that outsider coming in... Not easy to do, but you did it well...." He was also the first monitor appointed by the Waterfront Commission of New York and New Jersey Harbors, overseeing a stevedore's efforts to root out organized crime. 

Preston is a known advocate in both trial and appellate courts. He has successfully tried a wide variety of federal cases, and has argued civil appeals in the First, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and District of Columbia Circuits in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. He has succeeded in two cases of first impression: one in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and another, as amicus counsel, in the Illinois Supreme Court.

Previously, he was a partner at a well-respected Washington, D.C. firm and a prominent trial boutique in Chicago. He was recognized as an "Illinois Super Lawyer" from 2011 to 2017 and received multiple Special Service Awards during his time at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago. For 10 years, he served as part of the national faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and has been an adjunct professor in appellate advocacy at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

Representative Matters

  • Led a top-to-bottom risk assessment of a global manufacturer in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, U.S., and Asia Pacific covering anti-corruption, third-party due diligence, cartels, government contracts, trade controls, and the use, availability, and structure of its whistleblower reporting channels.
  • Represented the second largest hospital in Wisconsin after the tragic onsite homicide of a nurse-practitioner. Led a team to conduct internal investigation of the homicide and hospital security protocols. Advised the hospital regarding communications and discussions with internal and external stakeholders. Represented the hospital in associated OSHA investigation, which resulted in no adverse findings against the hospital.
  • Jointly led investigation into allegations by a whistleblower regarding accounting and internal governance/compliance issues into $5B non-U.S. headquartered company and its U.S. subsidiary, reporting results to external auditor.
  • Jointly led the internal investigation of an airline in an industry-wide False Claims Act (FCA) and false statements investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The investigation was both domestic and global, took place over several years, and involved dozens of witnesses.
  • Defended FCA and criminal false statement allegations against a Division I university following a well-publicized 2013 dawn raid by 54 federal and state law enforcement agents. Advised university regarding communications, discussions with law enforcement, internal and external stakeholders, and internal investigation of the issues. After several years, the DOJ closed the investigation with no charges filed.
  • Jointly led an independent investigation of alleged conduct by coaches on a Big Ten sports team, including highly publicized allegations by student-athletes of abuse, favoritism, and racism. Public report issued to all University alumni.
  • Defended three executives of a large Wall Street financial institution in a nationally publicized trade secrets and non-solicitation lawsuit filed by the executives’ former employer/financial institution. The case was litigated in both the Illinois Chancery Court and FINRA. The allegations were not sustained.
  • Retained by a board of directors to investigate numerous code of conduct complaints against the CEO of a large hospital, including conflicts of interest and other allegations.
  • On behalf of a large corporation, investigated the company's Deputy Chief of Human Resources for numerous alleged code of conduct breaches.
  • Investigated transportation executive for allegedly rigging a hiring process for senior managers seeking promotion.
  • Conducted a nine-month internal investigation of a health care medical device company regarding allegations of kickbacks, off-label marketing, and other health care compliance issues.
  • Defended a bank accused of widespread racial discrimination against its customers. Arbitrated the case in 2018, showed allegations had no merit and ultimately achieved a complete victory on the merits of the case.
  • Wrote the successful argument in one of the leading FCA implied certification qui tam cases in the Seventh Circuit, U.S. ex rel. Bragg v. SCR, part of the circuit split that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar.

Education

  • Cornell University, B.A. (1994)
  • New York University School of Law, J.D. (1997)

Affiliations

Admitted to practice: District of Columbia; Illinois; New York and before the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth and Seventh Circuits

Professional Activities and Memberships

  • Co-Chair, Global Anti-Corruption Committee, American Bar Association
  • Co-Chair, Qui Tam Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association
  • American Bar Association's Task Force on Corporate Monitors
  • Leadership Greater Chicago, Class of 2012
  • Former Member, Character and Fitness Committee, Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee
  • Former Chair, Labor and Employment Committee, Chicago Bar Association

View More

"Conversation with the Honorable G. Zachary Terwilliger, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia," OOPS 20/20 - Setting Your Sights (October 20, 2020). Moderators: Preston L. Pugh and Alexis Victoria DeBernardis.
Speech/Presentation
"Trump Executive Order Barring Race and Sex “Stereotyping and Scapegoating” Poses Special Challenges for Universities and Colleges ," (October 19, 2020). Contacts: Laurel Pyke Malson, Preston L. Pugh, Rebecca L. Springer, Amanda Shafer Berman
Client Alert / Newsletter
Courting Disaster: When CEOs Circumvent Their GCs Law360 (October 6, 2020)
Media Mentions
"FCA Suit Alleging Manufacturer Fraudulently Induced HHS to Stockpile $1.4B of Tamiflu to Prevent Influenza Pandemic Allowed to Proceed," False Claims Bullet Points (October 5, 2020). Contacts: Brian Tully McLaughlin, Preston L. Pugh, Sean K. Griffin
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Asking the Right Questions: How Corporate Boards Can Better Respond To Race Discrimination and Harassment," Corporate Counsel (October 1, 2020). Authors: Preston L. Pugh, and Michelle Onibokun.
Publication
"Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping Bans Some Diversity Training, Raises Significant Constitutional and Other Questions for Contractors ," Government Contracts Bullet Points (September 23, 2020). Contacts: Trina Fairley Barlow, Adelicia R. Cliffe, Kris D. Meade, Preston L. Pugh, Rebecca L. Springer, Jillian Ambrose
Client Alert / Newsletter
"Dismissal, Says Who? Recent Seventh and Ninth Circuit Decisions Offer Competing Views on DOJ’s Dismissal Authority under the False Claims Act, But Congress May Have the Last Word," Government Contracts Bullet Points (September 18, 2020). Contacts: Brian Tully McLaughlin, Jacinta Alves, Preston L. Pugh, Lyndsay A. Gorton, Sean K. Griffin
Client Alert / Newsletter
"FEATURE COMMENT: You Win Some, You Lose Some: In Wake of Ninth Circuit Defeat, the Governments Gets a Big Win from Seventh Circuit Ruling Expanding its Dismissal Authority over FCA Qui Tam Actions," The Government Contractor, Vol. 62, No. 34 (September 16, 2020). Authors: Brian Tully McLaughlin, Jacinta Alves, Preston L. Pugh, Lyndsay A. Gorton, and Sean K. Griffin.
Publication
"Funds Today, Investigation Tomorrow: SBA OIG Warns of Serious Concerns of Rampant Fraud with COVID-19 Relief Funds and Calls for Immediate Action," Government Contracts Bullet Points (August 4, 2020). Contacts: Mana Elihu Lombardo, Brian Tully McLaughlin, Amy Laderberg O'Sullivan, Preston L. Pugh, Lyndsay A. Gorton, Olivia Lynch
Client Alert / Newsletter
Trusted Investigations Counsel and Court-Appointed Monitor Preston Pugh Joins Crowell & Moring (Aug.03.2020)
Firm News / Announcement

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