Sean Hecker is a partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, resident in the New York office.
Sean is an experienced trial lawyer whose practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense, government and internal investigations, complex civil litigation, and regulatory compliance.
Sean’s practice includes representing officers, directors and corporations, across various industries, in grand jury and regulatory investigations, including those conducted by the DOJ, SEC, CFTC, FTC, IRS and federal and state banking regulators and state law enforcement agencies. He represents companies and individuals on matters concerning alleged securities and commodities fraud, corruption (including the FCPA), accounting fraud, money laundering, tax fraud, and antitrust violations. He has tried numerous cases to juries in federal and state court. He also regularly advises clients on various legal and compliance issues.
In one particularly notable matter, Global Investigations Review honored Sean’s work in U.S. v. Bogucki by naming the case its 2019 “Most Important Court Case of the Year.” Serving as lead counsel to Robert Bogucki, who was accused of orchestrating an alleged $6 billion fraudulent scheme, Sean secured a rare acquittal at the conclusion of the Government’s case. Finding that no jury could reasonably convict Bogucki on the evidence presented, the presiding judge noted that he had never granted such an acquittal in his twenty years on the bench. Sean also recently successfully represented Cheikh Gadio, the former foreign minister of Senegal, in a complaint alleging FCPA violations. Sean was able to secure a government dismissal of the complaint against Mr. Gadio, as well as a non-prosecution agreement.
Sean maintains an active pro bono practice, including successfully securing a temporary restraining order in early 2019 that restored legal visitation rights at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, NY after visits had been suspended in violation of the constitutional right to counsel.
Sean’s other current and recent representations include:
- Representing a former officer of a fortune-500 company in connection with a DOJ/SEC accounting fraud investigation, resulting in both agencies declining to bring charges
- Representing the founder and former CEO of a brand management company in a SDNY criminal case scheduled to be retried after the initial trial resulted in an acquittal on conspiracy charges and a hung jury on the substantive accounting fraud charges relating to the company
- Representing multiple current and former employees of a major financial institution in connection with a DOJ investigation concerning sales practices
- Representing a fund manager in connection with a DOJ and SEC short-selling investigation
- Representing a consulting firm in an SEC investigation related to SPACs
- Representing a law firm in a dispute with a former partner of the firm
- Representing a non-profit organization in connection with an SDNY and Bronx DA investigation into the business practices of the non-profit, focused on the serious allegations made against its former CEO
- Representing Stefan He Qin, in U.S. v. Qin and a parallel SEC enforcement action
- Representing several individual executives of a global logistics company in relation to a DOJ FCPA investigation of the company’s activities in the Middle East
- Representing two New York State elected officials who were assaulted, pepper sprayed, and had their right to protest aggressively curtailed by the NYPD at a protest in Brooklyn in May of 2020
Sean has authored numerous amicus briefs and publications concerning criminal justice issues and anti-corruption compliance. His publications include:
- “Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Anti-Corruption Compliance And Antitrust Law In Russia,” CEE Legal Matters (May, 2015)
- “DOJ Officials Encourage Companies to Cooperate Against Potentially Culpable Individuals,” “Just Blogs” section of Main Justice (October, 2014)
- “Conspiracy and the ‘Indefinite Payments’ Doctrine,” New York Law Journal (February, 2014)
- “Anti-Corruption Compliance in 2013: Post-Guidance and Signals for the Future,” Financial Fraud Law Report (February, 2014)
- Financial Fraud Law Report (November/December, 2013)
- “Should FCPA ‘Territorial’ Jurisdiction Reach Extraterritorial Proportions?,” American Bar Association's International Law News (Winter, 2013)
- “The Bourke Conviction And Willful Blindness: Did The Second Circuit Get It Right?,” Financial Fraud Law Report (June, 2012)
- “Corrupt Intent, Relationship Building, And Quid Pro Quo Bribery: Recent Domestic Bribery Cases,” Financial Fraud Law Report (February, 2012).
Prior to joining Kaplan Hecker & Fink, Sean was a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP and a trial lawyer with the Federal Defenders of New York. As a Federal Defender, Sean defended individuals charged in the Southern District of New York with a wide range of federal offenses and handled numerous trials and hearings. Sean was a law clerk for the Honorable John M. Walker, Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, and for the Honorable Sidney H. Stein, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.
Sean is a member of the Criminal Justice Act (CJA) Panel in the Southern District of New York, where he represents indigent federal criminal defendants. He is the President of the New York Council of Defense Lawyers, is a member of the board and past Chair of the Office of the Appellate Defender and the Federal Defenders of New York, Inc., and previously served as Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Mass Incarceration Task Force.
Sean is nationally recognized as a go-to lawyer for corruption and other white-collar criminal defense matters. He was recently named a Leading Individual by Who’s Who Legal (“WWL”) in their Investigations 2022 rankings, with sources recognizing Sean as "a super-strategic and sharp advocate" who provides "practical and strong advice" to clients in complex investigations. WWL also named Sean as a Global Thought Leader in “Business Crime Defence – Individuals.”
He was named the 2020 White-Collar Crime/Investigations/Enforcement Attorney of the Year by Benchmark Litigation, which has also recognized him as among the Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the country. Sean was also recently inducted as a fellow into the American College of Trial Lawyers, one of North America’s premier legal associations. Chambers USA and Chambers Global have both ranked Sean as one of the leading trial lawyers in the country and globally, describing him as “winning universal acclaim for his sophisticated practice.” Sean is also ranked by Chambers as “Band 1” among white-collar defense lawyers in New York, and is also nationally ranked by Chambers for his work on FCPA matters.
Sources describe Sean to Chambers as “truly one of the most gifted trial lawyers,” calling him a “terrific,” “pragmatic and down-to-earth”, “first-rate attorney”, who is “trustworthy beyond any question” and whose “judgment is unfailingly good.” Clients note that Sean is “extremely well respected by people on all sides and is one of the best in the white-collar space,” and a “very tenacious advocate.” “He is extremely knowledgeable about the law and applies it in a very practical way.” The Legal 500 US similarly rated Sean as a leading lawyer in corporate investigations and white-collar criminal defense, describing him as “incredibly smart and [he has] great experience”. Sources refer to Sean as “one of the leaders in the NY white-collar defense bar.”
Sean has also been named an Elite Boutique Trailblazer by The National Law Journal, 2020 "Winning Litigator" by The National Law Journal, a 2019 White Collar MVP by Law360, a 2020 Best Lawyer in America in the field of Criminal Defense: White-Collar, a Leading Lawyer in America by the Lawdragon 500, a “New York Super Lawyer,” and a Thought Leader by Who’s Who Legal & Global Investigations Review. He is also listed by Benchmark Litigation as a “National Practice Area Star” and a “Local Litigation Star” in New York, and was named a “Client Service All-Star” by BTI Consulting Group in 2013.
Sean received his J.D. from Stanford Law School in 1997, where he graduated Order of the Coif and was the Senior Note Editor of the Law Review. He received his MPP in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University in 1994. He received his B.A., magna cum laude, from Columbia College in 1992.