Wes helps businesses and professionals respond to government investigations or criminal prosecutions. A former federal prosecutor, Wes uses his insight to frame his client’s situation, while attempting to mitigate the damage these investigations frequently bring. The earlier he is involved, the more likely he can alter the direction of the case. Wes also draws on his experience when conducting internal investigations of potential wrongdoing and advising private clients on appropriate responsive actions.
Wes tells his clients, "Where you begin your response to a government investigation often dictates where you end. Generally, the most critical moments in responding to a government investigation are the first ones. Successfully navigating the initial interactions with government agents, or initial request for documents by a government agency, can significantly impact the outcome of the investigation." Wes' clients benefit from his perspective on how a government investigation develops and the tactics that prosecutors and investigators will likely use to build their case. Wes' counsel aids clients in avoiding criminal charges and achieving other non-public outcomes.
Wes has spent his entire career litigating cases in the federal courts of North Carolina, both for and against the United States Department of Justice. His experience includes high-stakes matters involving health care fraud, Clean Water Act, violations, mail and wire fraud, racketeering and public corruption, computer hacking, customs violations, money laundering, False Claims Act violations, immigration law violations, and federal firearms violations. Despite the wide range of these subjects, Wes approaches each case with a common philosophy—a commitment to creative and innovative strategic thinking, hard work, and relentless attention to detail.
Computer Hacking: Tried what is believed to be the very first computer hacking prosecution in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina under 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(5)(A), the most serious violation possible under the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Mail Fraud / Wire Fraud: Represented client in responding to prosecution for fraud scheme involving diversion of corporate marketing funds. After multiple vigorously contested sentencing proceedings, the Court sentenced client to 18 months, with a recommendation for immediate designation to a halfway house. This sentence was a downward variance from the advisory guideline sentence, and well below the sentence sought by the government.
False Claims Act: Successfully negotiated a civil, rather than criminal, resolution on behalf of a client accused of submitting false information in connection with a federal contract regarding air quality testing conducted pursuant to the Clean Air Act.
Medicare Fraud: Represented client accused of Medicare overbilling scheme with estimated loss of approximately $5,000,000. Successfully negotiated plea agreement limiting client’s exposure to 60 months imprisonment.
Clean Water Act: Litigated on behalf of client accused of Clean Water Act violation for failing to comply with municipal ordinance regarding wastewater pretreatment. After trial, client was acquitted of multiple counts, and for the counts of conviction, was sentenced to pay a fine of $150,000—a fraction of what the government sought at sentencing.
Post-conviction litigation: Represented client in post-conviction proceedings in which he sought to have his money laundering conviction vacated based on the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Santos. The District Court granted the requested relief, and modified the client’s sentence to time served, and reducing his restitution judgment from approximately $8,000,000 to nothing.
Restitution and forfeiture are the primary tools in the government's arsenal to address the consequences of economic crimes. In the past few years, these remedies have become an increasingly emphasized (and very expensive) aspect of government investigations and prosecutions. Wes has significant experience with restitution and forfeiture, representing both persons accused of financial crimes, as well as the victims of financial crime. For example, Wes helped a financial institution recover more than $3 million in loan collateral that was seized by the government in connection with the prosecution of one of the institution's former customers. He has also partnered with a team of South Carolina attorneys to successfully resolve the restitution and forfeiture issues in their client's criminal prosecution. His focus on and experience with federal forfeiture matters in North Carolina is extensive.
* Please see the following websites for an explanation of the membership standards for the following recognitions: www.bestlawyers.com; businessnc.com/special-sections/legal-elite/; and www.superlawyers.com/north-carolina.
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