Michelle Nasser is a Chambers-ranked former federal prosecutor with extensive first chair trial and investigation experience and a broad national civil and criminal litigation practice.
As a former AUSA, Michelle specializes in white collardefense and internal investigations. Michelle acts as lead attorney in representing companies and individuals who are targets, defendants and witnesses in financial fraud and white collar matters, including healthcare and government contract fraud, accounting and securities fraud, False Claims Act, FCPA, tax fraud, and public corruption. Michelle has successfully represented publicly-traded companies, corporate executives, doctors, and high-ranking government officials in sensitive, complex, and high-profile white-collar matters initiated by the United States Department of Justice, U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, and prosecutors in various jurisdictions. Michelle regularly represents a large healthcare corporation in responding to federal CIDs issued across the country, defends companies and medical providers in FCA litigation, and leads a variety of corporate internal investigations related to government inquiries. Michelle is recognized in the Chambers and Partners Guide for her accomplishments in “Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations.”
Michelle maintains an equally active civil litigation practice, routinely representing corporations and individuals in a variety of complex civil commercial litigation matters, including both the defense and prosecution of an array of claims such as breach of contract, fraud, unjust enrichment, employment discrimination, theft of trade secrets, and negligence in state and federal courts. As part of her civil practice, Michelle was one of the lead lawyers representing St. Louis and the Regional Stadium Authority in the high-profile litigation arising out of the Rams’s 2016 relocation from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Michelle conducted and defended numerous depositions of key witnesses in the NFL matter, which resulted in a historic $790 million settlement against the NFL and its teams shortly before trial.
As a lead trial counsel, Michelle has tried to verdict 15 federal district court jury trials and one federal district court bench trial. She also was a lead trial counsel in a state court matter that was dismissed by opposing counsel after four days of jury selection. She has questioned scores of witnesses in court and has taken and defended depositions of both fact and expert witnesses. She also has argued countless contested hearings involving constitutional, statutory, evidentiary and sentencing issues.
As appellate counsel, Michelle has briefed and personally argued 11 appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Before joining Dowd Bennett, Michelle served for more than 13 years as a federal prosecutor and supervisor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, serving in the office’s Major Case, Financial Crimes, General Crimes, and Violent Crimes sections. She led and supervised government investigations, prosecutions, trials and appeals involving various criminal offenses, ranging from complex financial, tax and healthcare fraud, to embezzlement, identity theft, money laundering, cybercrime, racketeering, violent crime, civil rights violations, extortion, human trafficking and public corruption. From 2010-2016, in addition to her other responsibilities at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michelle led the office’s Human Trafficking Program, which entailed supervision of all federal human trafficking investigations and cases in the Northern District of Illinois.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Michelle was an associate at a large law firm in Chicago, and a law clerk for a federal judge in Chicago.
Representative white collar defense / internal investigation matters include:
Routinely acts as lead counsel representing companies and individuals who are targets or witnesses in grand jury investigations in various matters across different jurisdictions, particularly matters involving federal white collar investigations of fraud and public corruption in Missouri, Illinois and elsewhere. In this role, she has designed and developed compliance programs in various industries, including a program regarding federal financial regulations and a program for a publicly-traded company.
A lead trial counsel representing university professor in federal indictment related to the Department of Justice’s “China Initiative.” Achieved Rule 29 and jury acquittals on the three “China Initiative” charges that were the basis of the DOJ investigation and original indictment.
Member of the defense team that achieved dismissal of the federal indictment against our client in U.S. v. Peavler, et al.
Lead counsel representing publicly-traded company in criminal investigation by United States Department of Justice regarding the parent corporation’s alleged criminal responsibility for federal firearms offenses allegedly committed by three employees. No civil or criminal charges were brought against the company.
Lead counsel representing former Chief Operating Officer of publicly-traded company in investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding alleged accounting fraud schemes that allegedly resulted in the issuance of materially misstated financial statements. No criminal charges brought.
Regularly defends large healthcare company in various ongoing False Claims Act lawsuits and government inquiries throughout the country, including responding to federal CIDs, leading related internal investigations, and defending company in national litigation matters. Among other tasks, led internal investigation regarding coding for certain drug prescriptions and regarding possible violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Lead counsel representing a large provider of interactive computer services in responding to CIDs issued by state Attorney General related to data privacy and antitrust investigation. No civil or criminal charges brought.
Lead counsel representing president of trucking company in federal investigation regarding public corruption and alleged federal program bribery of public officials. No civil or criminal charges brought.
Lead counsel representing NCAA Division 1 university’s coaches in an internal investigation regarding the recruitment of a prospective student athlete. No civil or criminal charges were brought, and no disciplinary action taken.
Lead counsel representing company and its Chairman and CEO in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and financial fraud investigation by United States Department of Justice Criminal Division Fraud Section and U.S. Attorney’s Office. No civil or criminal charges brought.
Lead counsel defending healthcare corporation and medical provider in federal criminal and civil FCA investigation related to allegedly inappropriate use of CPT codes and submission of false claims to Medicare for unnecessary procedures and medical services not rendered.
A lead counsel for sitting Missouri Governor indicted on felony charge of computer tampering related to his campaign’s alleged procurement of a non-profit donor list. Obtained dismissal of charge. Also, a lead trial counsel in separate felony invasion of privacy case against sitting Missouri Governor, obtaining full dismissal after four days of jury selection.
Lead counsel representing a corporation in a multi-year FCA investigation by DOJ Civil Fraud Section and DOT-OIG involving the use of a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) subcontractor related to a multi-million dollar government contract. No civil or criminal charges were brought.
Represented company in USDA accounting investigation. Led internal investigation and designed and implemented compliance program. No civil or criminal charges brought.
Representative civil litigation matters include:
A lead plaintiffs’ counsel in civil lawsuit arising out of the Rams’s 2016 relocation from St. Louis to Los Angeles. In the lawsuit, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and the RSA sued the NFL, Rams, and NFL teams and owners for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, fraudulent misrepresentation, and tortious interference with business expectancy. The 4+ year litigation resulted in a $790M settlement from the NFL and its teams, in what the NY Times describes as “a rare and very public defeat for the NFL.”
Lead counsel representing multiple licensed “big four” accounting firm audit professionals with respect to complaints pending before the Missouri Board of Accountancy regarding the individuals’ alleged sharing of answers for examinations on internally administered training courses.
Lead counsel in obtaining complete summary judgment in favor of corporate client, dismissing with prejudice all plaintiffs’ race discrimination and retaliation claims filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, including claims of disparate treatment, disparate impact, and retaliation, and obtaining an order for plaintiff to pay client’s costs. In subsequent related case, lead counsel in obtaining—a second time—complete summary judgment in favor of corporate client on former employee’s claim of retaliation.
Lead counsel in obtaining full dismissal with prejudice of federal negligence claim against a large provider of interactive computer services.
Lead counsel in obtaining a complete summary judgment in favor of executive and favorable settlement for corporate client in gender discrimination and retaliation claim filed in St. Louis County Court.
Obtained full summary judgment in favor of corporate client, dismissing all plaintiff’s breach of contract, negligence, strict liability, and failure to warn claims filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, in which plaintiffs sought damages of approximately $120 million as a result of an explosion and fire at an oil refinery.
Representative matters as federal prosecutor include:
U.S. v. Wilder, et al. A lead counsel in kickback case involving Chicago White Sox scouting executive.
U.S. v. Leija-Sanchez, et al. Lead trial counsel in 6-week jury trial involving a multi-defendant international document fraud, money laundering, and racketeering conspiracy.
U.S. v. Piros. Lead counsel in embezzlement case involving a vice president of St. Xavier University
U.S. v. Koll. Lead trial counsel in bribery bench trial.
U.S. v. Rago. Lead trial counsel in tax fraud jury trial.
U.S. v. Knox. Lead trial counsel in jury trial involving visa fraud by a member of terrorist group Revolutionary United Front.
U.S. v. Christ, et al. Lead trial counsel in bribery jury trial involving a Foreign Service Officer.
U.S. v. Copeland. Lead trial counsel in bank fraud jury trial.
U.S. v. Adame. Lead trial counsel in arson-murder jury trial.
U.S. v. Sawyer, et al. A lead trial counsel in human trafficking jury trial.
J.D., Washington University School of Law, 2000
M.A., summa cum laude, University of Portland, 1997
B.A., magna cum laude, University of Notre Dame, 1995
Hon. James H. Alesia, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, 2000-2002
Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, (2003–2016); Deputy Chief (2008-2016)
Selected to Missouri Lawyers Media’s “The POWER List: White-Collar Defense” 2021-present
Fellow, American Bar Foundation, 2021-present
Recognized by Best Lawyers® in Commercial Litigation, 2021-present
Missouri & Kansas Super Lawyers, Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2020-present
Recognized by Best Lawyers® in Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2019-present
Recognized by Best Lawyers® in Corporate Compliance Law, 2019-present
Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team, U.S. Department of Justice, 2015
Excellence in Law Enforcement Award, Cook County Crime Stoppers, 2012
Special Recognition Award, Illinois Arson Award Committee, 2011
Star of Distinction Criminal Justice Award, Chicago Crime Commission, 2010
International Achievement Award, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary’s Awards Ceremony, 2008
Meritorious Honor Award, Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security, 2007
Panelist, Significant Legal Developments and Trends in Central and Midwest Regions, ABA White Collar Conference, March 1, 2023
Federal Bar Association, St. Louis Chapter, National Delegate (2022), Board Member (2020-present), Member (2016-present)
Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Committee for the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, 2021-2023
American Inns of Court, St. Louis Chapter, Barrister Member, 2017-2019, 2021-2024
Founder and Chapter Leader of the Missouri Chapter of the Women’s White Collar Defense Association
American Bar Association Center for Human Rights Working Group on Crimes Against Humanity (invited by Ambassador David J. Scheffer), member, 2016-present
Supreme Court of Missouri Combatting Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence Commission, Chair of Human Trafficking Education/Training/Awareness Subcommittee (appointed by Supreme Court of Missouri), member, 2017-2023
Moderator, From White Collar Practice to In-House Roles: The View from the Other Side, Women’s White Collar Defense Association North America Midwest Region, November 4, 2021
Panelist, What To Do When the Media Glare is On Your Client, 2021 Corporate Counsel Institute, September 27, 2021
Panelist, U.S. v. Kelly – “Bridgegate”comes to the Supreme Court, Federal Bar Association and Missouri Athletic Club Lawyers’ Group, May 28, 2020
Presentation, It Doesn’t End with Upjohn: Preserving Privilege and Other Ethical Considerations in Internal Investigations,” BAMSL’s White-Collar Crime Conference, April 10, 2019
Presentation, Investigations in the Age of #MeToo, 2018 Missouri Bar / Missouri Judicial Conference Annual Meeting, September 27, 2018
Panelist, To Cooperate or Not to Cooperate, That is the Question, Federal Bar Association, White Collar Criminal Law Program, October 11, 2017
Presentation, White Collar Crime: Responding to Government Investigations, 2017 Bench & Bar Conference, The Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis, June 1, 2017
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Adjunct Professor, Human Trafficking Law Seminar, 2015
Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, Adjunct Instructor, Trial Advocacy, 2014
Leadership Greater Chicago, Fellow, Class of 2012
Instructor, Trial Advocacy, DOJ’s National Advocacy Center
Dowd Bennett is a litigation firm with extensive courtroom experience. Led by trial-seasoned lawyers, including former federal prosecutors and judicial law clerks, our team shares tenacity, a passion for seeing cases through trial and a complete commitment to client service.