Photograph of Preston L. Pugh

Preston L. Pugh


Preston Pugh helps companies, board committees, and large organizations conduct internal investigations and respond to government investigations, often stemming from high stakes whistleblower complaints. He is a partner at Crowell & Moring and co-leads its False Claims Act Practice. For more than 20 years, he has helped clients navigate many different types of crises—including commercial and government contract fraud investigations; C-suite corporate ethics concerns; whistleblower retaliation claims; broad-based harassment and discrimination complaints; investigations by Congress; and related litigation. He has been recognized by the Legal 500 for his work in investigations.

Preston is skilled in governance, risk management, and compliance. He is frequently called by clients to navigate reputational concerns. He has gained critical perspective from his service as an assistant U.S. attorney working on both civil and criminal cases at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago; at GE Healthcare, where he was the senior counsel for investigations and litigation and led global investigations; and as a compliance monitor appointed multiple times in cases throughout the country. He is also skilled in trial and appellate advocacy—he has served as a FINRA arbitrator, successfully tried a wide variety of federal cases, and has argued civil appeals in the majority of 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.

Contributing to the legal profession and mentoring are important parts of Preston’s work. He is currently a member of the ABA Criminal Justice Section Council, which advises on criminal justice policy issues, both federal and state. He is also a co-chair of the ABA CJS Qui Tam Subcommittee, a co-chair of the ABA Global Anticorruption Committee, and served as a member of the ABA task force that drafted the first-ever ABA standards for corporate monitors. He is active in the National Bar Association as well. For ten years, he served as a member of the national faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, teaching trial advocacy throughout the country. He currently serves on several nonprofits boards of directors, and has served as a mentor in the Washington, DC-based Abramson Foundation, as well as informally as a mentor to several junior attorneys.


Whistleblower Investigations

  • Led Fortune 100 board-level investigation of misconduct alleged by an anonymous whistleblower focused on the company’s CEO and CHRO.
  • Currently representing a quasi-public entity in a grand jury investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, focused on allegations of conflicts and bid rigging by the entity’s CEO.
  • Led a team in the investigation of the chief of police for a large county authority, focused on more than ten years of workplace allegations of harassment, bullying and discrimination. Reported to and advised executive director of the county, and also county board of directors, regarding the same.
  • Led the successful defense of a large healthcare provider in a ten-month OSHA whistleblower investigation regarding allegations of noncompliance with OSHA safety reporting standards and the provision of N-95 masks.
  • Led an investigation of collective whistleblower concerns at a large nonprofit regarding racism, noncompliance with ADA standards, favoritism and bullying.
  • Part of a team that investigated whistleblower allegations of misconduct against the executive director of a large museum.
  • Led the internal investigation of a government contractor in the technology sector with respect to whistleblower concerns about the hiring of a third party in South America.
  • Jointly led the investigation into allegations by a whistleblower regarding accounting and internal governance/compliance issues of a $5B non-U.S. headquartered company and its U.S. subsidiary, reporting results to external auditor.
  • 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.
  • 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 senior transportation executive for allegedly rigging a hiring process for pilots seeking promotion.

Government Investigations and Compliance Counseling

  • Led team that represented former DNC Consultant/Chair of DNC Ethnic Council in foreign assistance investigation by the U.S. Senate.
  • 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 an 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 extensive OSHA investigation, which resulted in no adverse findings against the hospital.
  • 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 crisis 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. Drafted public report issued to all university alumni.


  • Currently representing a large MCO in arbitration of U&C claims against pharmacies for fraud and breach of contract.
  • 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.
  • 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.


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


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

"How Can Companies Prepare For The Upcoming Wave Of ESG Whistleblowers In Europe?," Chief Executive (May 3, 2022). Authors: Preston L. Pugh, Stefanie, Stefanie Tack, Jessica S. Nam.
Refresh Anti-Harassment Training Following Law Barring Mandatory Arbitration SHRM Online (April 29, 2022)
Press Coverage
American Forest & Paper Association General Counsels Coordinating Committee Fall Meeting 2021 (April 20, 2022). Speakers: Chris Cole and Preston Pugh.
"Governance Trends in ESG for the Aerospace and Defense Sector," Crowell & Moring Webinar. (March 1, 2022). Speakers: Robert Holleyman and L. Preston Pugh.
The Institute for Well-Being in Law Kicks Off First Conference (January 13, 2022)
Firm News / Announcement
Companies Setting Climate Goals Without Tracking Emissions, Survey Finds Corporate Secretary (December 15, 2021)
Press Coverage
"ESG Survey: Environmental Performance and the Stakes for Your Business," Crowell & Moring Webinar (December 9, 2021). Speakers: John B. Brew, Christopher A. Cole, Elizabeth B. Dawson, Thomas De Meese, Thomas A. Lorenzen, and Preston L. Pugh.
Companies Are Setting Environmental Goals, But Questions of Measurement Persist, Crowell & Moring Survey Finds (December 1, 2021)
Firm News / Announcement
"A Focus on Multinationals: Adding Enterprise Value Through Global Whistleblower Protocols and Promoting Employer Values," Labor & Employment Law Alert - US (November 12, 2021). Contacts: Preston L. Pugh, Trina Fairley Barlow, Rachel Lesser
Client Alert / Newsletter
Crowell & Moring Named to "GIR 100" for Seventh Consecutive Year (November 11, 2021)
Firm News / Announcement

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Crowell & Moring LLP is an international law firm with offices in the United States, Europe, MENA, and Asia that represents clients in litigation and arbitration, regulatory and policy, and transactional and corporate matters. The firm is internationally recognized for its representation of Fortune 500 companies in high-stakes litigation and government-facing matters, as well as its ongoing commitment to pro bono service and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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