Mike Ferrara

Partner | New York
T: (212) 763-0883
E: mferrara@kaplanhecker.com
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Mike Ferrara

Mike Ferrara is a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. Mike has experience handling civil, criminal, and regulatory matters for individuals and corporations. A decorated former federal prosecutor, Mike has extensive experience as a trial and appellate lawyer following a career of public service that included over a decade as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York.

Mike maintains a broad-based white collar and commercial litigation practice, representing companies, boards of directors and individuals in connection with white collar criminal defense, government investigations and complex civil litigation.

Mike leverages his extensive public sector experience to help clients navigate responding to criminal prosecutions and regulatory enforcement proceedings; and conducts internal investigations and provides counsel on compliance to help them avoid such prosecutions and proceedings in the first place. His particular deep experience in complex fraud, corruption (including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) and cybercrime – combined with his familiarity and comfort with intricate, multinational settings – equips him to deliver compelling results for clients as they face their most critical legal challenges.

Mike’s current and recent representations include:

  • Represented President Biden’s daughter Ashley Biden in the SDNY criminal investigation that led to the guilty pleas of two individuals and a conviction of another in connection with the theft of Ashley’s personal diary.
  • Successfully represented E. Jean Carroll at her sexual assault and defamation trial against Donald Trump, resulting in a $5 million jury verdict in Carroll’s favor.
  • Obtaining a non-jail sentence for a BitMEX executive in connection with a prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY into alleged Bank Secrecy Act violations.
  • Representing a major cryptocurrency exchange in connection with various criminal and regulatory investigations.
  • Representing four professional golfers who have been subpoenaed as third-party witnesses in connection with LIV Golf’s lawsuit against the PGA Tour alleging violations of federal antitrust law.
  • Representing a swaps trader in a lawsuit brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleging market manipulation.
  • Obtaining immunity for an individual in connection with the Department of Justice’s prosecution of “lottery lawyer” Jason Kurland.
  • Persuading the Securities and Exchange Commission not to sue a senior executive of an online broker-dealer in connection with an investigation into execution and disclosure issues.
  • Obtaining immunity for the general manager of a Florida hotel in connection with a federal criminal investigation into the hotel industry’s alleged practice of hiring undocumented workers.
  • Representing a pharmaceutical company in connection with a federal criminal investigation into the alleged diversion of opioids, which resulted in the DOJ not bringing charges.
  • Representing an executive of a Swiss company in connection with a DOJ FCPA investigation involving the alleged payment of bribes in Brazil and Colombia.
  • Representing a former call-center employee in connection with a healthcare-fraud prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
  • Representing a subject of a criminal insider-trading investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY.
  • Representing an employee of a multinational energy and commodity trading company in connection with a DOJ FCPA investigation involving the alleged payment of bribes in Mexico, Brazil and Ecuador.
  • Representing the owner of a Swiss-based asset management firm in connection with a criminal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the SDNY of alleged stock manipulation schemes.
  • Representing the President of an SEC-registered broker in connection with an SEC investigation into execution and disclosure issues.
  • Representing an employee of a major transport-solutions company in connection with a DOJ investigation into the company’s compliance measures, which resulted in the DOJ not bringing criminal charges.
  • Representing a non-profit homeless services provider in connection with state and federal criminal investigations into its former CEO relating to embezzlement, kickbacks and harassment.
  • Representing dozens of employees of multiple Wall Street banks in connection with SEC inquiries into the banks’ preservation of off-channel communications.
  • Representing a witness in the DOJ’s prosecution stemming from the collapse of Allianz’s Structured Alpha Fund.
  • Representing the chairman of a SPAC in connection with an SEC investigation into the SPAC’s CEO’s alleged lies to investors.

As an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the SDNY, Mike investigated, prosecuted and supervised a wide range of cases; including matters involving securities fraud, insider trading, money laundering, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, bank and wire fraud, cybercrime, international drug trafficking and terrorism. During his tenure, he served as Co-Chief of both the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit and the Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit, supervising two units of approximately 25 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, investigators and other personnel in investigating and prosecuting a wide array of white collar, cyber and national security offenses. Mike also served as a member of the office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force, in which role he tried and convicted professional gambler Billy Walters for insider trading.

Other high-profile representative cases that Mike supervised or led include the prosecution of Billy McFarland, the founder and CEO of Fyre Media Inc. and Fyre Festival LLC, for defrauding over 80 investors and causing over $26 million in losses; the Panama Papers investigation, resulting in charges against four defendants for their roles in the decades-long tax scheme; the first-ever securities fraud conviction predicated on a Bitcoin Ponzi scheme; FCPA resolutions with Russian telecom company Mobile TeleSystems PJSC and its subsidiary, resulting in $850 million in penalties; and sanctions-evasion and fraud charges against Türkiye Halk Bankasi A.Ş., or “Halkbank,” for its alleged participation in a multi-billion-dollar Iranian sanctions-evasion scheme. Mike also supervised charges against nine Iranians in U.S. v. Rafatnejad for allegedly hacking the computer systems of hundreds of American universities, companies, and other victims; obtained the conviction after trial of Usama bin Laden’s son-in-law and al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghayth; and supervised the capital prosecution of Sayfullo Saipov for the alleged 2017 terrorist truck attack in Tribeca.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Mike served as a Trial Attorney in the Public Integrity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. In that role, he investigated and prosecuted a wide array of federal corruption crimes, including bribery, honest-services fraud, obstruction of justice, and extortion. Most notably, Mike led investigations of dozens of public officials and lobbyists that stemmed from the Jack Abramoff scandal, including investigations of a Congressman, several congressional staffers, and officials across the Departments of Justice, Transportation and Labor. Mike was also briefly detailed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.  

Across his 14 years in government, Mike was counsel in 11 federal criminal jury trials, one federal bench trial, and over 20 misdemeanor bench trials; briefed over 40 and argued nine appeals before U.S. Courts of Appeals; and supervised other Assistant U.S. Attorneys in all aspects of appellate advocacy as Deputy Chief of the Appeals Unit in the SDNY.

Mike has received significant recognition for his public service, both from within the government and from beyond. He is the recipient of the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, the Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team, the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation’s Federal Prosecutor Award and the Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Ensuring the Integrity of Government. Most recently, Mike was honored with the Henry L. Stimson Medal, awarded by the New York City Bar to outstanding Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the SDNY and the EDNY.

Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Mike completed clerkships for the Honorable Michael Chertoff of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and for the Honorable John Gleeson of the U.S. District Court for the EDNY.

Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Advisors for NYU School of Law’s Program on Corporate Compliance and Enforcement, which promotes more effective corporate and white collar enforcement and corporate compliance programs through research and meaningful engagement between the public and private sectors.

Mike graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where he was Managing Editor of the Stanford Law Review, Perspectives Editor of the Stanford Technology Law Review, and a member of the Moot Court Board. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Boston College.

Select Publications

  • Co-author, “Business Crime Laws and Regulations,” Global Legal Group's ICLG (2023)

Education

  • B.A., Boston College, magna cum laude, 1998
  • J.D., Stanford Law School, with distinction, 2003

Clerkships

  • Hon. Michael Chertoff, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
  • Hon. John Gleeson, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York

Fellowships, Leadership & Recognitions

  • Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations | New York, Chambers USA, 2024
  • FCPA | USA - Nationwide, Chambers USA, 2024
  • Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation, 2023 and 2024
  • Future Star, Benchmark Litigation, 2022
  • 500 Leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon, 2024
  • 500 Leading Litigators in America, Lawdragon, 2024
  • The Henry L. Stimson Medal, New York City Bar, 2019
  • Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, U.S. Department of Justice, 2011
  • Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team, U.S. Department of Justice
  • Federal Prosecutor Award, Federal Law Enforcement Foundation
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for Ensuring the Integrity of Government, U.S. Department of Justice

Bar and Court Admissions

  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York
  • New York

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