Joseph J. Aronica, a trial lawyer with over 25 years of litigation experience, has tried over 40 jury trials and argued numerous appeals in federal courts around the country. Most recently, Mr. Aronica was lead counsel on behalf of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight in its special examination of Fannie Mae, which resulted in a settlement by Fannie Mae of $400 million, and in its administrative prosecution of charges against the former CEO, CFO, and controller of Fannie Mae, seeking millions of dollars in penalties. Mr. Aronica also, following a four-week arbitration between joint-venture partners, obtained a $35 million award and attorneys' fees in favor of client for the joint-venture partner's failure to pay a note and dividends due under the parties' agreement, together with a finding of no liability on a $59 million counterclaim against the client. Mr. Aronica also defended, in a jury trial, the former general counsel of a publicly traded company on an indictment alleging insider trading.
Mr. Aronica's practice focuses on white-collar criminal defense, securities enforcement, including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations and false claims cases, complex civil and administrative litigation, internal corporate investigations, and compliance and corporate matters. Mr. Aronica has defended corporations, corporate executives, government officials, lawyers and others in a broad range of white collar criminal cases, including securities and commodities, bank, bankruptcy and procurement fraud; tax; customs and export violations; and bribery. He is a frequent lecturer on white collar crime, internal investigations, banking crimes, money laundering and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act issues.
Before entering private practice, Mr. Aronica was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, where he served as senior litigation counsel, chief of the Special Prosecutions Group and chief of the Criminal Division. He received the Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award for his role as lead counsel in the "Illwind" nationwide defense procurement fraud investigation. The investigation, praised by Attorney General Janet Reno as "one of the most successful undertaken by the Department of Justice against white collar crime," resulted in 65 convictions of major defense contractors, corporate executives, consultants and high-level government officials, including a former assistant secretary of the Navy and a former deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force and monetary recoveries in excess of $400 million. Mr. Aronica also prosecuted other high-visibility complex cases, including espionage, major arms and technology export violations, securities fraud, tax offenses, murder, healthcare fraud and banking cases, and has handled cases involving the Classified Information Procedures Act and the extensive use of wiretaps.
Mr. Aronica is a member of the American, Virginia and Federal bar associations. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia, New York, Virginia, Maryland and before the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center (LL.M.), a graduate of the University of Richmond Law School (LL.B.), where he was a member of the University of Richmond Law Review and the McNeill Law Society, and a graduate of the University of Richmond (B.A.). Mr. Aronica also holds the rank of colonel in the United States Army (Ret.).
- Defended the former general counsel of a publicly traded company on insider trading charges in a one week jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Represented two high-level corporate officials in separate options backdating investigations conducted by the SEC.
- Represented two corporate officials in a bankruptcy fraud and SEC investigation.
- Defended the president, CEO and chairman of the board of a publicly traded company on securities fraud charges in a three month jury trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.
- Defended a London-based solicitor and criminal court magistrate on securities fraud-related charges involving falsification of business records in a six week trial in New York Supreme Court, New York County.
- Represented the former executive assistant to the Secretary of HUD in the appeal of her conviction to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which resulted in dismissal of certain counts, and in her Petition for Certiorari to the Supreme Court and through her resentencing on conspiracy, receipt of gratuities, and perjury before Congress.
- Defended the superintendent of a District of Columbia paving company on charges of bribery and fraud in a one-week jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
- Defended the president of a printing company for violations of the Clean Air Act and filing of false documents charges in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Indiana.
- Represented a defense contractor in allegations of bribery of foreign government officials.
- Defended various individuals in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York including: (1) a bank vice president and real estate developer on bank fraud charges; (2) a broker on commodities and securities charges; and (3) a college president on tax fraud charges.
- Defended the owner of an exporting business in California on export violations in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
- Defended various individuals in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, including: (1) a securities broker on securities fraud charges involving a vast "pump and dump" scheme; (2) a real estate developer on bank fraud charges; (3) a lawyer on bankruptcy fraud charges; and (4) a former president and CEO of a defense contractor (a subsidiary of a major international European company) in a grand jury investigation into possible false statements in government contracts and bribery of foreign officials; and (5) a physician's widow in a bankruptcy fraud investigation.
- Represented a former FBI agent in his testimony at a closed hearing before a United States Senate subcommittee investigating irregularities at Los Alamos and representation before an administrative inquiry by the Department of Justice and FBI.
- A major energy company in its development and construction of power generation facilities in the Far East
- A major defense contractor into possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for bribing foreign officials in an award of government contracts
- An international chemical company into allegations of commercial bribery in its overseas sales operations
- A manufacturer in its overseas distribution networks into allegations of commercial bribery
- An investigation into possible kickbacks for the medical division of a multi-national company
- Represented SOC-SMG, Inc. (SMG) in securing confirmation of a $41 million award against Day & Zimmerman, Inc. and The Day & Zimmerman Group, Inc. (DZI), in connection with a joint venture between SMG and DZI to provide international security to government clients.
- Lead counsel on behalf of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight in its special examination of Fannie Mae, which resulted in a settlement by Fannie Mae of $400 million, and in its administrative prosecution of charges against the former CEO, CFO, and controller of Fannie Mae seeking millions of dollars in penalties. Continued representation to the successor agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, in multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and in a separate multidistrict litigation dealing with subprime issues in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
- Following a four-week arbitration between joint-venture partners, obtained a $35 million award and attorneys' fees in favor of client for the joint-venture partner's failure to pay a note and dividends due under the parties' agreement, together with a finding of no liability on a $59 million counterclaim against the client. In addition the panel awarded $ 5+ million in attorney’s fees after contentious motions practice. Now involved in the enforcement of the award in actions filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Represented a chief engineer of a major technology and information systems company in investigations into the alleged manipulation of the California energy market in 2000 - 2001 conducted by the California State Senate, the California Attorney General's office, a United States House of Representative subcommittee, a grand jury, and in a class action lawsuit.
- Represented a financial leasing company in a breach of contract dispute against two companies, one of which was a publicly traded company in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
- Represented a California leasing company in a contract dispute in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County.
- Represented a defense contractor in a two-week jury trial in the Fairfax County Virginia Circuit Court regarding allegations of misappropriation of trade secrets.
- Defended a Broadway producer in his divorce action in New York State Supreme Court against his third and fifth wives and represented his sixth wife in subsequent probate litigation after his death.
- Represented the widow of an art philanthropist and owner of two museums through his art foundation in a three-week probate trial in the Cook County Circuit Court, Chicago, Illinois, and advice on foundation matters.
- Represented a U.K. formula-one engine manufacturer in a breach of contract AAA arbitration claim against an auto racing organization.
- Represented a psychiatrist in license revocation proceedings in several state administrative actions.
- Represented a whistleblower in a false claims action alleging bribes of foreign government officials and failure to disclose $25M in commissions to a foreign agent against a Florida company in its sale of irrigation equipment to Nigeria funded through Exim Bank loans.
- Represented the State Legislature of Alaska before the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and in its Petition for Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court involving its dispute with the State Governor and the Attorney General regarding the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
Internal Corporate Investigations
Areas of Practice
- Complex Civil, Criminal and Administrative Litigation
- Internal Corporate Investigations
- Corporate Advice
- Compliance Matters
- District of Columbia
- New York
- Supreme Court of the United States
- U.S. Court of Military Appeals
- U.S. Court of International Trade
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
- Georgetown University Law Center, LL.M.
- University of Richmond, B.A.
- University of Richmond Law School, LL.B.
- Duane Morris LLP
- Partner, 2003-present
- Porter Wright Morris & Arthur, LLP, Washington, D.C.
- Partner, 2001-2003
- Dechert, Washington, D.C.
- Partner, 1995-2001
- Mudge Rose Guthrie Alexander & Ferdon, LLP, Washington, D.C.
- Counsel, 1994-1995
- United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria, Virginia
- Assistant United States Attorney, 1979-1994
-- Senior Litigation Counsel
-- Chief, Special Prosecutions
-- Chief, Criminal Division
- Shawe & Rosenthal, Baltimore, Maryland
- Labor Attorney
- Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Government Regulations and Labor Section, Washington, D.C.
- Trial Attorney
- U.S. Army
- Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana
- USAR SUPTHAI, Korat, and Camp Samae San, Thailand
- Defense Appellate Division, U.S.A.L.S.A., Falls Church, VA
- U.S. Army Reserve
- American Bar Association
- Virginia State Bar Association
- Federal Bar Association
Honors / Awards
- Listed in Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers, 2013
- Recipient, Attorney General's Distinguished Service Award, 1991 (Second highest award given annually by the Department of Justice)
- Numerous other Department of Justice awards
- Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
- AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
- Co-author, "DOJ and the SEC Issue New FCPA Guidance," Duane Morris Alert, November 15, 2012
- Co-author, "Changes in SEC Investigations Outlined by Director of Enforcement Division," Duane Morris Alert, August 6, 2009
- "Big Mouths: Enron Chiefs Lay and Skilling took the stand and sank their own defense," Legal Times, June 5, 2006, Vol. XXIX, No. 23
- "Silicon Valley East - The Eastern District of Virginia: A Seurat Painting Approach to the PSLRA and Other Issues in Securities Litigation," Securities News (published by the American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Committee on Securities Litigation), Vol. 11, No. 1, Winter 2001
- "The Dangers for Community Bankers," Community Banker (published by America's Community Bankers), October 2001
- "Globalization of Law Enforcement Efforts," Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 4, No. 4, Spring 2001
- "New Federal Enforcement Developments and Trends," (USA Patriot Act and Doing Business Overseas/FCPA, Export Controls and other government regulations), Columbus, Ohio, November 6, 2002
- American Banker's 2nd Money Laundering Symposium, Washington, D.C., June 12-13, 2002
- "Working Together to Increase U.S. Exports," 2002 National District Export Council Conference (Money Laundering), Washington, D.C., June 6-7, 2002
- "The World of International Business Regulation Since September 11," (Money Laundering), Baltimore, Maryland, April 11, 2002
- "Money Laundering: Prevention Compliance and Best Practices," (post September 11 changes, USA Patriot Act), Columbus, Ohio, January 31, 2002
- America's Community Bankers Annual Conference, (Money Laundering), Cleveland, Ohio, October 1-3, 2001
- "Investigations and Litigation - Hot Buttons for Advisers and Funds," (conducting an internal investigation in a foreign setting), New York, New York, January 31, 2001
- "Globalization of Corporate Criminal Law," (MLATs and cooperation among law enforcement authorities), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 18, 1999
- "International Business Communications - Private Equity Investments in Emerging Markets," (FCPA/Money Laundering), New York, New York, July 21-22, 1997
- "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: Learn What You Can and Cannot Do," American Conference Institute, Washington, D.C., November 1996; (FCPA), New York, New York, June 10-11, 1997
- "Government Investigative Tools," Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 1997
- Money Laundering/Banking Seminar, sponsored by Titmuss Sainer/Dechert, London, England, April 1997
- "The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: How to Comply and Compete in International Markets," (FCPA recent cases and investigations), American Bar Association, Marina del Rey, California, February 21, 1997
- "Government Contract Litigation Issues in the Spotlight," Boards of Contract Appeals Judges Association Annual Seminar, (Government Procurement Fraud), Alexandria, Virginia, April 1996
- "Outlook for Foreign Banks in 1995 - Financial Institution Crimes; Compliance and Ethics Programs, Cooperation with the Government," Los Angeles, California, April 1995
- "Burning Issue for the Corporate General Counsel - Cooperation with the Government - A Good Idea or Not?" Corporate Compliance and Ethics Programs, 7th Tulane Corporate Law Institute, New Orleans, Louisiana, March 1995
- "Corporate Criminal Liability - The Cooperating Company," Fourth Annual Institute on Federal Program Fraud, Washington, D.C., September 1994
Numerous Department of Justice conferences and seminars for prosecutors and agents on various white collar crime investigative and prosecutive issues