Michael L. Lipman is a partner in Duane Morris’ Trial Practice Group with more than 40 years of experience trying criminal and civil cases in state and federal courts. His primary focus is on all aspects of white-collar criminal defense and related parallel proceedings, regulatory and licensing matters, and business litigation. He has had more than 50 jury trials and is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He brings the judgment of a trial lawyer and former senior federal prosecutor to a variety of issues facing clients, both individuals and entities, including the defense of white-collar crimes and responding to government investigations related to such matters as securities fraud, insider trading and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, healthcare fraud, criminal tax matters, antitrust violations, mortgage fraud, government contract fraud, criminal environmental violations, public corruption and campaign finance violations, financial institution fraud, money laundering and bank secrecy violations, and export-control violations. He also has substantial experience conducting internal investigations, defending civil securities cases, civil RICO, Civil False Claims Act and qui tam actions.
Mr. Lipman has conducted or participated in numerous internal investigations for both private and public entities, and has prepared and assisted in making presentations involving voluntary disclosures and amnesty applications to the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Defense, IRS, the Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) and EPA. He has also represented clients in suspension and debarment/exclusion proceedings against various components of the U.S. Department of Defense, including the Navy, Air Force and Defense Logistics Agency; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Counsel to the chief financial officer of a San Diego public company accused in a federal criminal securities fraud case of manipulating reserves to overstate revenues; Seven-week trial in federal court.
- Counsel to a San Diego commodities trader accused of defrauding investors of more than $10 million and tax evasion; six-week trial in federal court.
- Represented the controller of a San Diego high-tech public company in Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice investigations and civil cases arising out of securities fraud related to revenue-recognition and insider-trading issues.
- Counsel to founder and former chief executive officer of an Orange County high-tech public company in an options backdating investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Convinced the government not to file any charges against a senior tax counsel at a Los Angeles public company in an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice of improper revenue-recognition and transfer-pricing issues.
- Representation of prominent scientist in investigation by DOJ and the SEC into allegations of violations of the FCPA. Convinced both agencies not to file any charges.
- Represented executive of a defense contractor in an internal investigation regarding overseas payments implicating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
- Represented an employee of international government contractor in an internal investigation of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act violations.
- Obtained acquittal for Los Angeles businessman in criminal insider-trading case after two-week trial in federal court in Los Angeles; Securities and Exchange Commission case was settled on terms the client found favorable.
- Representation of an East Coast businessman in connection with alleged insider trading. Persuaded the San Diego U.S. Attorney's Office to settle for a deferred prosecution with no admissions, and the SEC to settle without having the client charged with insider trading violations, but rather naming the client only as a Relief Defendant who disgorged his "profits."
- Representation of a San Diego businessman in an investigation of insider trading and convinced both the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office and the SEC not to file any charges.
- Counsel to San Diego insurance executive in Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice investigations of insider trading relating to trading in community bank stocks.
- Represented a patent agent at San Diego biotech public company in Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice investigations of insider trading in the company's stock. Negotiated a plea agreement and convinced the sentencing judge not to impose any custody notwithstanding the government's argument for a substantial jail sentence.
- Counsel to a member of Board of Directors of San Diego public company in Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice investigations of insider trading.
- Represented a businessman in a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of insider trading in high-tech company stock.
- Counsel to an Orange County businessman in Securities and Exchange Commission and DOJ investigations of insider trading in Orange County public company stock that involved former Major League baseball players. Convinced both the U.S. Attorney's Office in Orange County and the SEC not to file any charges.
- Negotiated civil resolution of case for an investment advisor in connection with allegations of misrepresentations made to his investor clients, without precipitating any governmental investigations.
- Represented a securities broker in investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Department of Justice into embezzlement of more than $5 million of client funds.
- Counsel to a commodity pool operator in connection with investigations by the U.S. Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the U.S. Department of Justice into a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.
- Represented a client charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Riverside County District Attorney's Office in the largest Ponzi scheme in the county's history.
- Counsel to an Investment Advisor in connection with an SEC examination relating to misrepresentations allegedly made to its clients regarding fee structures.
- Counsel to a partner in a major accounting firm under investigation by the SEC for insider trading.
- Representation of the CEO of a Cayman Islands-based family office who has been indicted for securities fraud, and charged as well in a SEC complaint, both in the Southern District of California.
- Counsel to a Korea-based senior executive of a Korean multinational company in a criminal antitrust investigation regarding price fixing in the DRAM chip market.
- Represented a San Diego business in a criminal bid-rigging investigation involving art auctions in the Southern District of New York. Resolved the investigation with a corporate guilty plea with no individual charged.
- Counsel to a San Francisco businessman in a criminal bid-rigging investigation by the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice involving the sale of foreclosed real estate.
- Represented a project manager of a multimillion-dollar contract to remove pipe wrap containing asbestos from nine miles of pipe at a San Diego Gas & Electric facility. Client and SDG&E were indicted for criminal violations of the Clean Air Act. After a seven-week trial in federal court, the client was acquitted of all but one charge. The court's grant of our motion for a new trial was upheld by the Ninth Circuit, and the government was persuaded to dismiss all remaining charges.
- Represented a cruise-ship line charged criminally for releasing oil in the port of Los Angeles. Persuaded the Los Angeles city attorney to dismiss the criminal case and resolve the matter with a civil settlement.
- Counsel to a San Diego ship-repair company accused of illegal dumping of waste materials. Convinced the government to resolve the case with a misdemeanor guilty plea and avoided debarment of the company.
- Represented a Fortune 500 company in criminal investigation for improperly transporting and disposing of hazardous material in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Persuaded the federal and state prosecutors to resolve the investigation with a civil settlement.
- Counsel to a developer accused of illegally polluting the San Diego River in violation of the Clean Water Act. Ultimately convinced the government to resolve the case with a civil settlement with no criminal charges filed.
- Counsel to the owner of a large plant nursery charged with illegally grading property without the required permits.
- Counsel to owners of a chain of pharmacies in a joint FBI/DEA investigation of diversion of oxycontin and hydrocodone, Medi-Cal billing fraud, and claims for millions of dollars in civil penalties under the federal Controlled Substance Act.
- Represented the owner of a group of Southern California methadone clinics in an investigation into allegations of $14 million in Medi-Cal billing fraud. Negotiated a resolution of the matter without any individuals being criminally charged and with a civil settlement involving structured payments, a compliance program and no program exclusions.
- Counsel to an oncologist who was under investigation for purchasing drugs from non FDA licensed foreign suppliers and billing Medicare for the cost of the drugs. Convinced the San Francisco U.S. Attorney's Office not to file criminal charges and settled civilly without any allegations of fraud and with an agreement from HHS that they would not pursue a Medicare exclusion.
- Represented an owner of a nationwide home oxygen supply company in a federal investigation of Medicare durable medical equipment (DME) billing fraud. Investigation was resolved with a civil settlement and compliance program.
- Convinced the San Francisco U.S. Attorney's Office not to file criminal or civil charges against the physician-president of a large Monterey, Calif., practice group initially accused of defrauding Medicare in an upcoding billing scheme.
- Counsel to a prominent San Diego ophthalmologist who, after a federal criminal tax conviction, had his license revoked by the Medical Board of California. Obtained a reversal of the board's decision after litigation in Superior Court of California and the Court of Appeals.
- Represented a psychiatrist accused of having improper sexual relations with his patient. Case was resolved without any criminal charges or license revocation.
- Represented an ophthalmologist in parallel criminal and civil False Claims Act investigations into allegations he defrauded Medicare by upcoding laser surgeries. Convinced the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office to settle civilly with no criminal charges filed and no discipline against his license. Convinced 60 Minutes to kill the story it was about to run on the case.
- Counsel to a surgeon in a civil False Claims Act investigation in which he was accused of defrauding Medicare by billing for unapproved surgical procedures.
- Represented a prominent Los Angeles ophthalmologist in civil litigation in which he was accused by insurers of billing for cosmetic eye surgeries as if they were necessary medical procedures.
- Counsel to an internist in parallel criminal and civil False Claims Act investigations into allegations he had defrauded Medicare by misbilling for cardiac rehabilitation procedures.
- Counsel to physician in criminal investigation into allegations he had conspired to defraud Medicare by allowing operators of clinic to bill Medicare using his provider number when he never saw patients at the clinic or reviewed patient charts.
- Counsel to the President of an ambulance company in investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office, the OIG of HHS and the FBI into fraudulent billings to Medicare for medically unnecessary transports for dialysis patients.
- Persuaded a San Diego federal district court to reverse the appointment of a receiver and to vacate an order freezing more than $600 million in assets in a civil case brought by the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice accusing the owner of a financial holding company of operating a multimillion-dollar tax and investment fraud. The case was dismissed, and the government was convinced not to file any criminal charges related to this conduct.
- Represented a prominent Los Angeles certified public accountant in a criminal tax case involving more than $9 million in taxes avoided by his clients.
- Convinced the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office not to file criminal charges against a Los Angeles businessman in a criminal tax investigation involving fraudulent charitable gifts to a New York religious organization.
- Counsel to San Diego restaurant owners in criminal tax-skim investigation. Convinced the government that the case should be resolved with a corporate guilty plea with no individuals charged criminally.
- Convinced the government not to file either criminal or civil charges against one of the owners of Metabolife in a criminal tax investigation in which the government had alleged that the client was involved in a scheme to evade more than $80 million in taxes.
- Represented a certified public accountant in an investigation by the California Board of Accountancy into abusive tax shelters involving billions of dollars of taxes.
- Counsel to an insurance agent charged with defrauding carriers in the sale of STOLI life insurance policies and concurrent scheme to avoid millions of dollars in taxes.
- Represented a San Diego businesswoman implicated in a cross-border tax-evasion scheme. Convinced the Tax Division of the U.S. Department of Justice not to follow the internal recommendation to file criminal charges.
- Counsel to a San Diego certified public accountant in a criminal tax investigation involving a fraudulent transfer-pricing scheme.
- Represented a tobacco wholesaler in a federal criminal investigation into a scheme to defraud the California Board of Equalization of millions of dollars in tobacco excise taxes. Convinced the U.S. Attorney's Office in Sacramento not to file criminal charges.
- Counsel to a businessman in connection with a voluntary disclosure to the Internal Revenue Service involving undisclosed foreign bank accounts and Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) issues.
- Representation of a prominent San Diego surgeon in an ongoing criminal tax investigation.
- Representation of a San Diego DOD contractor in investigation alleging false certifications to the SBA that it was a “small business” eligible for SBA contracts, notwithstanding the SBA “affiliation” regulations. Matter was resolved civilly without any criminal charges and the company paid approximately $12 million when its potential exposure was more than three times that amount.
- Represented an aerospace fastener manufacturer in multijurisdictional federal investigation into government-procurement fraud arising out of sale of inferior quality materials and the falsification of quality-control documentation regarding military specifications items. Case was the subject of congressional hearings.
- Counsel to a large school district in connection with investigation by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the National Science Foundation into misuse and fraud in connection with millions of dollars in grant funds. After an internal investigation, the matter was resolved with a small civil settlement and the implementation of a compliance program.
- Counsel to the chief financial officer of a San Diego biotech company in connection with a criminal investigation into improper charges on contracts with the National Institutes of Health. Convinced the San Diego U.S. Attorney's Office to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and all charges have now been dismissed.
- Represented an executive of a San Diego hospital in connection with a criminal investigation of the procurement of health care contracts from the ministers of health of several South Pacific island governments. Case was resolved without any criminal charges being filed.
- Represented several San Diego shipyards, ship-repair companies and other Department of Defense contractors in criminal investigations involving mischarging on government contracts, providing inferior materials, falsifying quality-control documentation and failing to provide agreed-upon deliverables.
- Counsel to the owner of a San Diego logistics company in connection with parallel criminal and civil False Claims Act investigations of overcharging on Department of Defense contracts.
- Represented the chief operating officer of a San Francisco health care company in parallel criminal and civil False Claims Act investigations into government-contract fraud.
- Representation of government contractor in connection with proposed debarment by the Air Force as a result of mis-billings on contracts. Convinced the debarring officials to terminate the proceedings when client entered into a compliance agreement.
- Counsel to business in Los Angeles named as defendant in a Qui Tam False Claims Act civil case. Persuaded the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office not to intervene in the case.
- Representation of a client indicted in the Central District of California for both bank fraud and tax evasion involving more than $50 million.
- In the criminal and regulatory investigations that followed the government's takeover of one of the largest failed savings and loan institutions, convinced the government not to file criminal charges and negotiated a resolution with the banking regulators on behalf of the chief executive officer.
- Represented a senior partner and major rainmaker at a large San Francisco law firm in connection with a federal criminal bank-fraud investigation. Retained by client after the government informed him that he was going to be indicted for bank fraud. After three months of work, convinced the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Jose not to charge the client.
- Represented a real estate broker in a criminal investigation of bank fraud in connection with dozens of fraudulent short sales. Negotiated a favorable plea agreement with the Los Angeles U. S. Attorney's Office and convinced the District Court judge not to impose any period of incarceration notwithstanding a sentencing guideline that would have resulted in a presumptive jail sentence.
- Representation of a San Diego businessman under investigation for bank bribery in connection with the purchase of nonperforming loans. Convinced the San Diego U.S. Attorney's Office not to file any charges.
- Represented the chief executive officer of an international corporation who was one of Jack Abramoff's largest client in the criminal investigation of Abramoff and Congressmen Tom Delay. Government was ultimately convinced not to bring any criminal charges against the client.
- Counsel to the owner of a government contractor alleged to have bribed Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.
- Represented a prominent California state senator from Los Angeles in the investigation and prosecution by the Department of Justice of corruption in the California State Legislature.
- Represented a senior executive of a large San Diego hospital implicated in a federal corruption investigation outside of California. The matter was resolved with a civil settlement without any criminal charges.
- Counsel to national election consultant under federal indictment in San Diego for campaign financing violations in connection with the primary and general elections for Mayor of San Diego.
- Represented a real estate development company in criminal campaign-money-laundering investigation and related investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.
- Counsel to gaming executive in investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into payoffs allegedly made to members of Midwestern Indian tribe.
- Represented the owners of a California cardroom/casino and its individual shareholders in obtaining a unanimous approval from the California Control Commission to obtain their gaming licenses and to complete the purchase of a card-room/casino in Chula Vista, California.
- Representation of the owners of a California cardroom/casino in the defense of an Accusation filed by the Bureau of Gambling Control, arising out of a federal criminal investigation of another casino the group was attempting to purchase. The Accusation was settled with a fine of $500,000, but no negative impact on the gaming licenses. Assisted the clients to obtain approval from the Bureau of Gambling Control and the California Commission of Gambling Control for the purchase and license to operate an additional cardroom/casino.
- Counsel to a San Diego businessman in connection with voluntary disclosure to the Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Asset Controls (OFAC) regarding possible violations of the Iranian sanctions.
- Represented several Major League Baseball players in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative (BALCO), Roger Clemens and MLB drug investigations.
- Counsel to a Hollywood producer in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice criminal investigation of illegal wiretapping by Anthony Pellicano. Ultimately convinced the government not to criminally charge the client.
- Represented a former executive of a mortgage broker in a criminal investigation into a scheme to fraudulently obtain funding for home loans.
- Defended an entrepreneur criminally charged by the San Diego District Attorney with four counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering, false advertising, unauthorized computer use and identity theft in connection with his internet-based affiliate marketing business, resulting in a dismissal of all felony charges in exchange for the client’s plea to a single misdemeanor with no jail time and no probation, and a charitable donation of $500,000.
- Successfully defended a prominent Orange County attorney in a State BAR investigation that could have resulted in discipline to her license to practice.
- Representation of a well-known Bay area Yoga instructor in connection with allegations regarding inappropriate interactions with students.
- Representation of a national swimming pool franchisor in an investigation dealing with the unlawful removal of negative comments from several fraud alert web pages.
- Representation a wealthy businessman after a collectible judgment of $33 million was entered against him individually after trial. Representation included the post judgment collection proceedings and a new fraudulent conveyance lawsuit. As a result of some effective utilization of procedures to block post judgment discovery, both the judgement and the new lawsuit were resolved in mediation for only $8 million to be paid as a settlement by the client’s corporation.
- Representation of a nationwide property management company and several of its subsidiaries in connection with a three year civil investigation by the U.S. DOJ and the California Attorney General into violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act regarding evictions of service members from military housing. The matters were settled with the client agreeing to injunctions and a nominal payment to each agency. All the legal fees and penalties were paid by the client’s prior counsel.
- Counsel to San Diego real estate syndicators accused of defrauding investors by making misrepresentations regarding the financial affairs of the company.
- Recovered assets valued in excess of $4 million on behalf of San Diego high-tech company that had $2.5 million embezzled from it by its controller.
- Represented a San Diego businessman in dispute with his former partner regarding fraudulent tax allocation in the dissolution of their partnership and embezzlement by the ex-partner. Obtained a multimillion-dollar settlement.
- Obtained on behalf of a prominent former San Diego attorney the dismissal of a civil RICO case filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota by parties he had previously sued for securities fraud. The plaintiffs claimed that they would never had settled the underlying securities case had they known that the attorney and his partners had engaged in criminal conduct and failed to reveal that they were compensating their expert on a contingent basis.
- Counsel to a San Diego bank in a case involving civil RICO allegations that officers of the bank had conspired with a bank customer to defraud investors.
- Counsel to an insurance agent in connection with claims of fraud in the sale of multimillions in dollars of stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI).
- Representation of a religious congregation that was the victim of a significant embezzlement by its executive director. Obtained a large insurance payout to the congregation and assisted the DOJ in obtaining a guilty plea and custodial sentence for the perpetrator.
Securities Fraud, Insider Trading and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Government Contract/Grant Fraud
Areas of Practice
- White-Collar Criminal Law
- Commercial Litigation
- New York
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
- Columbia Law School, J.D.
- State University of New York at Buffalo, B.A.
- Duane Morris LLP
- Coughlan, Semmer & Lipman LLP
- Finley Kumble Wagner et al.
- U.S. Attorney's Office. Southern District of California
- Assistant U.S. Attorney / Chief of Fraud Unit
- National Commission for the Review of Federal and State Laws Relating to Wiretapping and Electronic Surveillance
- Deputy Counsel
- Bronx District Attorney's Office
- Assistant District Attorney
- American Bar Association
- Section of Litigation
- White Collar Crime Committee
- Association of Business Trial Lawyers
- Founding Board Member of the San Diego Chapter
- Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference
- Attorney Representative
- California Academy of Attorneys for Health Care Professionals
Honors and Awards
- Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers
Named a "Lawyer of the Year" in Criminal Defense: White-Collar—San Diego by The Best Lawyers in America, 2020
- Listed in San Diego Super Lawyers for White-Collar Criminal Defense
- Listed in The Best Lawyers in America for Criminal Defense: White Collar
- Listed in "2013 Guide to San Diego's Top 25 Lawyers" by SDMetro
- Listed in Best Lawyers for over a decade
- 2012 San Diego County Top Attorney
- AV Preeminent® Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®
- Quoted, "Getting 'Fat Leonard' Extradited to the US from Venezuela after Capture Could Be Challenging," ABC10 News San Diego, September 22, 2022
- Quoted, "Theranos May Face More Legal Trouble after SEC Settlement,"San Francisco/Los Angeles Daily Journal, March 15, 2018
Selected Speaking Engagements
Speaker, "Criminal Tax Procedure Workshop," USD School of Law Annual Conference, University of San Diego, San Diego, California, July 20, 2018
Speaker, "Significant Legal Developments in the Regions," ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime, San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, California, February 28, 2018