Nicola T. Hanna is a litigation partner and member of the White Collar Defense and Investigations, Class Action and Complex Litigation, and Healthcare Practice Groups.
Mr. Hanna is an experienced trial lawyer and a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has been recognized annually as one of the top criminal defense attorneys in California by Chambers USA Guide, listed in Best Lawyers in America®, recommended for class actions and white collar crime in Institutional Investor’s Benchmark Litigation Guide, and routinely named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” for white collar defense by Los Angeles magazine.
Focusing on complex criminal, SEC, and regulatory enforcement matters, Mr. Hanna has represented individuals and corporations in a wide array of cases, including alleged health care fraud, securities fraud, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations, insider trading, and environmental crimes. Mr. Hanna also frequently counsels clients on compliance program enhancements and best practices.
Additionally, Mr. Hanna is often engaged by leading companies and by Audit and Special Committees of Boards of Directors to conduct sensitive internal investigations. Mr. Hanna has conducted investigations throughout the world, including Argentina, China, Colombia, Dubai/UAE, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Malaysia, Russia, and Venezuela.
Mr. Hanna’s civil practice includes representing businesses in high-stakes litigation in state and federal courts around the country. He has represented numerous clients in actions brought pursuant to the False Claims Act against government contractors, health-care providers, and educational institutions. He also has successfully handled cases involving consumer and shareholder class actions, unfair business practices, misappropriation of trade secrets, and civil fraud.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Hanna served as a federal prosecutor in Southern California for eight years. Mr. Hanna was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Central District of California in Los Angeles from 1990 to 1994, handling matters involving illegal export of high-technology computer equipment, money laundering, financial structuring, narcotics, and other violent and economic crimes. From 1995 to 1998, Mr. Hanna was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of California in San Diego, where he served as Deputy Chief of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force. In that capacity, he was responsible for prosecuting cases involving major money laundering and narcotics trafficking organizations, criminal tax violations, and international chemical diversion. As an Assistant United States Attorney, Mr. Hanna has represented the government in numerous federal court jury trials and has briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He has received many awards and commendations from state and federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, IRS, and the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Mr. Hanna received his law degree magna cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 1987, where he served as Associate Editor of the Georgetown Law Journal. He earned his B.A. degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1984.
Mr. Hanna’s professional associations include the State Bar of California (admitted 1987), and the Orange County and Federal Bar Associations. Mr. Hanna previously served on the Board of Directors of the Public Law Center, Orange County’spro bono legal aid organization.
- Represented a major U.S. Bank targeted in a federal grand jury investigation into alleged money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act violations for failure to report suspicious transactions. Successfully negotiated a Deferred Prosecution Agreement with DOJ and simultaneously resolved all regulatory actions.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
- Served as one of the lead lawyers on a team of U.S. FCPA counsel to an overseas Independent Compliance Monitor appointed in connection with the largest-ever FCPA settlement.
- Represented an officer of an off shore drilling contractor in an SEC enforcement action (SEC v. Jackson et al.) alleging improper payments in Nigeria. Settled the case on the eve of trial with no admission of liability and no monetary penalties, in what legal commentators called a “defeat” for the SEC and “significant victories for the individuals.”
- Represented the former CEO of a valve manufacturing company charged criminally with FCPA and Travel Act violations involving alleged payments to foreign officials in 30 countries. In defense of this action (United States v. Carson), filed the first substantive challenge to the FCPA’s “foreign official” definition, a motion recognized by The Wall Street Journal and The American Lawyer as breaking new ground in FCPA litigation.
- Conducted an FCPA investigation in China on behalf of a Silicon Valley technology company following a voluntary disclosure; the DOJ and SEC later closed their investigations without action.
- Conducted an FCPA investigation in Russia on behalf of a major consumer products company.
- Represented one of the country’s largest publicly traded proprietary school companies in a nationwide federal criminal and SEC investigation alleging fraudulent student recruitment and financial aid practices. DOJ declined prosecution and the SEC closed its investigation without action.
- Represented a defense contractor in a federal False Claims Act investigation alleging fraudulent overhead. Settled the case on favorable terms with DOJ and obtained a “no action” letter from the Department of Defense.
- Defended a large engineering/construction firm in a federal False Claims Act investigation relating to military housing. Convinced DOJ not to intervene and the relator to dismiss his fraud claims voluntarily.
- Represented a Fortune 500 health care company in a federal criminal investigation alleging unnecessary open heart surgeries. No charges filed.
- Defended a hospital company in a $300 million federal False Claims Act suit alleging Medicare overbilling at over 100 hospital facilities nationwide.
- Represented various hospitals in a series of federal False Claims Act cases alleging upcoding, cost report violations, and laboratory unbundling. Successfully negotiated favorable settlements with state and federal regulators of all cases with no debarment.
- Served as lead counsel to an Independent Compliance Monitor appointed by DOJ to oversee an orthopedic implant manufacturer’s compliance with the terms of a Deferred Prosecution Agreement arising from alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
- Represented the former CEO of a biotech company in parallel DOJ and SEC investigations into allegations of falsified R&D test results and related public disclosures. Secured declination from DOJ and termination without action from the SEC.
- Represented CEO of a major health plan in state criminal investigation relating to Medi-Cal payments. Obtained declination from State Attorney General’s Office.
- Defended a pension board trustee in a state conflict of interest prosecution regarding the alleged $1.4 billion underfunding of a municipal employee pension system. Successfully obtained pretrial review and dismissal of all charges by the California Supreme Court. In January 2011, the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journalsrecognized the case (Lexin v. Superior Court) as a Top Appellate Reversal for 2010. Following dismissal, successfully sued the City of San Diego for attorneys’ fees.
- Represented a City Councilwoman in a federal grand jury investigation alleging insider trading and mail fraud in connection with votes to fund a new major league baseball park. Successfully obtained a transfer to state court and negotiated a plea to two state misdemeanors.
- Represented a group of independent directors in class action securities lawsuits and related federal grand jury and SEC investigations into the collapse of a publicly traded subprime mortgage company. Class action settled on favorable terms and no action by DOJ or SEC.
- Represented a public company in federal grand jury and related SEC investigations alleging wire and securities fraud. No charges filed.