RUSSELL KOONIN

Russell-Koonin

Russell Koonin represents corporate and individual clients in securities litigation matters; a wide-array of complex commercial litigation disputes; white-collar criminal defense including internal investigations; and government regulatory enforcement matters.  Mr. Koonin has tried more than 20 federal jury trials and has argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Florida Third District Court of Appeal.

Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Koonin served as Senior Trial Counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Enforcement and also previously served as a federal prosecutor at the Department of Justice.  Mr. Koonin also was previously in private practice, where he practiced complex commercial litigation, defending both public and privately-held corporations and their officers, and also individuals in white-collar criminal defense matters.

During his tenure at the Miami Regional Office of the SEC, Mr. Koonin investigated and litigated cases involving violations of the anti-fraud, registration, books and records and investment adviser provisions of the securities laws, amongst others.  These matters ranged from large-scale Ponzi schemes, violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, stock price manipulation schemes, accounting violations under Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, hedge-fund fee misappropriation, registration disclosure violations, violations under the Bank Secrecy Act, including Anti-Money Laundering provisions, Regulation FD violations, and failures to supervise, amongst others.

As an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of Florida, Mr. Koonin prosecuted matters related to violent crimes, firearms offenses, narcotics, sex-trafficking, matters of national security, identity theft, and credit card fraud.  Mr. Koonin also defended the United States and its employees, including federal law enforcement officers from the FBI, DEA, ATF, DHS and BOP in employment discrimination matters, torts, and allegations of excessive force.

 


 

REPRESENTATIVE MATTERS

  • SEC v. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., 16-cv-25298-MOORE (S.D. Fla.)

 
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act matter pertaining to allegations of bribes paid to foreign government officials in Russia, Ukraine, and Mexico to win business in those regions.  Under the settlement, Teva paid more than $236 million in disgorgement and interest to the SEC plus a $283 million penalty, and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ. Teva was required to maintain independent corporate monitoring for at least three years.  SEC’s second-largest paid disgorgement ever at its time.

  • SEC v. JCS Enterprises, et al., 14-cv-80468-MIDDLEBROOKS (S.D. Fla.)

 
Asset freeze obtained and a Receiver appointed in emergency anti-fraud action against the operators of a South Florida-based Ponzi scheme that targeted investors through YouTube videos and sold them investments in a product called virtual concierge machines that would supposedly generate guaranteed returns of 300 to 500 percent in four years.  Defendants, who, resolved their SEC charges resulting in more than $30 million in disgorgement, were charged by the DOJ and convicted at trial.

  • SEC v. BankAtlantic Bancorp, Inc., et al., 12-cv-60082-GAYLES (S.D. Fla)

 
Allegations of improper disclosure and GAAP violations against the holding company of one of Florida’s largest banks at the time and its top executive, for misleading investors about growing problems in one of its significant loan portfolios early in the financial crisis.  The litigation consisted of two separate seven-week jury trials.

  • SEC v. UBS Financial Services et al., Exchange Act Rel. No. 85891 (May 20, 2019)
  • SEC v. Jose G. Ramirez, 15-cv-2365-DELGADO-HERNANDEZ (D.P.R.)

 
Allegations based on conduct of UBS Puerto Rico registered representative’s improper use of customers’ line of credit to purchase close-end funds.  Liability established against the former UBSPR registered representative, who was also subsequently criminally charged by DOJ and pled guilty.  UBSPR agreed to settle the SEC’s claim by paying $15 million, which was placed into a fund for harmed investors.

  • SEC E.S. Financial Services, Inc. n/k/a Brickell Global Markets, Inc. Exchange Act Rel. 77056 (Feb. 4, 2016) (and individual in related matter)

 
Action brought pertaining to reporting, recordkeeping and record retention requirements in regulations implemented under the Bank Secrecy Act, including the customer identification program rule (“CIP Rule”), implementing Section 326 of the USA PATRIOT Act.  Matter resolved via consent, where Respondent was censured, required to pay a $1 million civil penalty, and agreed to be subject to a corporate monitor.  Respondent’s President and CEO consented to a $50,000 civil penalty and to be suspended from association industry for a period of twelve months.

  • SEC v. Kingdom Legacy General Partner, LLC et al., 16-cv-00441-POLSTER CHAPPELL (M.D. Fla.)

 
Allegations of investment adviser and its founder and controlling principal charging undisclosed fees of 40% of the trading profits in one share class and 50% of the trading profits in the other two share classes, in addition to other material misrepresentations as to trustworthiness and skill. Matter resolved via consent for a combined $4.15 million in disgorgement and civil penalties.

  • United States v. {Jane Doe}, 10-cr-xxxxx-MARTINEZ (S.D. Fla.)

 
Criminal defense co-counsel for Ms. “Doe,” who was charged with mortgage fraud for actions as an attorney closing real estate transactions in a fictional and fraudulent proposed equestrian community.  Prior to going to trial, the lead developer down the chain to the straw buyers all pled guilty.  After a two-week trial, the jury acquitted Ms. Doe in under an hour.

  • Wyndham Lending Group LLC & Robert Walsh. v. Banco Popular North America, Inc., MRS-L-002862-08 (Morristown, NJ)

 
Defense of Banco Popular in a breach of contract action. Plaintiff alleged over $40 million in damages for an alleged failure of the president of Banco Popular to fund a separate mortgage origination and resale joint venture.  In the midst of plaintiff’s case-in-chief, a very favorable settlement was reached.

  • Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., v. Universal American Mortgage Company, LLC,et al., 11-cv-20859-KING (S.D. Fla.)

 
Defended UAMC, a mortgage loan correspondent, in breach of contract action where LBHI claimed that UAMC was required to repurchase residential loans UAMC sold to LBHI based on certain representations and warranties. After significant briefing, the Court ordered severance of all eight counts, dismissing all but one, holding that each individual claim of breach could not be tried together.
 

  • Farm Stores v. H.T. Hackney, Co., 02-00311 CA 09 (Miami-Dade)

 
Trial on damages related to overcharging for wholesale goods supplied by Hackney to Farm Stores, where the dispute centered on calculating permissible discounts, rebates and credits from available invoices and other documents.
 

  • United States v. Talavera, et al., 09-cr-20852-GOLD (S.D. Fla.)

 
Criminal charges against multiple individual defendants and their companies for violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Presidential Executive Orders and the Code of Federal Regulations for the shipment of electronic goods to a business located within the Tri-Border Area, in South America which was banned by the Office of Foreign Assets Control because of its ties to Hamas as designated by the United States as Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
 

  • United States v. Sylvin, et al., 09-cr-20264-KING (S.D. Fla.)

 
Multi-defendant prosecution involving a notorious gang in the Little Haiti area of Miami. Successfully defended against a motion to suppress a wiretap, as well as a separate motion to suppress the recovery of the narcotics and multiple firearms. Five of the defendants proceeded to trial in one case; another defendant was tried separately because he was severed. All but one of these defendants were convicted. The remaining charged defendants pled guilty.
 

  • United States v. Fowler et al., 08-cr-202160-MORENO (S.D. Fla.)

 
National security case concerning the theft and sale of U.S. passports.  Proof of this conspiracy was solidified through the use of search warrants, pen registers and a wiretap in coordination with the FBI and the Diplomatic Security Service. This multi-state investigation, which went from California, through Mississippi, to Georgia and Florida, resulted in the guilty plea of the two defendants.
 

  • United States v. Darrell Knight, 07-cr-20923-GOLD (S.D. Fla.)

 
Bank robbery prosecution where the defendant forcefully held a victim at gunpoint when entering the bank and threatened all bank tellers at gunpoint as well.  Evidence presented at trial included cell-site location information from the defendant’s phone as well as circumstantial evidence from the recovered get-away vehicle given that defendant’s face was covered during the robbery. Victims at trial provided emotional testimony, and the defendant was convicted.
 

  • United States v. Marcillo-Aviles et al., 07-cr-20040-JORDAN (S.D. Fla.)

 
International scheme to import rare pre-Columbian artifacts into the United States from Ecuador. Pre-Columbian art consists of art and artifacts from the Americas, including pottery, baskets, jewelry and statues, that pre-date the arrival of Christopher Columbus. Under Ecuadorian law, it is illegal to transport such historical artifacts out of Ecuador as they are considered national treasures, and the U.S. National Stolen Property Act recognizes foreign criminal law regarding cultural property. The lead defendant pled guilty to a Superseding Information.
 

  • United States v. Dwight Moss, 06-cr-20442-UNGARO (S.D. Fla.)

 
This hybrid case primarily involved large-scale credit card fraud where the defendant, a previously convicted felon, was compromising victims’ accounts at department stores and home improvement stores.  Additionally, when a search warrant was executed on the defendant’s home, a firearm was located. The case proceeded to trial and the defendant was convicted of fraud and possession of a firearm.
 

  • United States v. St. Clair & Pluviose, 06-cr-20271-GOLDBERG (S.D. Fla.)

 
Drug trafficking case where the defendants claimed they were unaware of transporting cocaine over the border hidden in the back of paintings.  Both defendants were convicted.
 

  • United States v. Miguel Bernazal, 06-cr-20367-HUCK (S.D. Fla.)

 
Reverse home-invasion sting that proceeded to trial after the defendant, having skipped bond, was apprehended in Mexico. The defendant believed that he and his co-defendants were going to forcefully steal over 50 kilograms of cocaine.  The defendant was convicted at trial.

  • United States v. Dr. Chad Livdahl, N.D., et al., 04-cv-61617-COHN (S.D. Fla.)

 
Secured emergency temporary, preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against two doctors and their affiliated companies for committing violations under the Federal Food and Drug Cosmetic Act and for committing fraud against the United States.
 

  • Ulysses J. Hudson v. Thomas J. Ridge, Secretary, Dep’t of Homeland Security,

01-cv-2425-MARRA (S.D. Fla.)
 
Employment discrimination matter, where plaintiff alleged he was denied a promotion because of his race.  The jury declined to award any damages.
 
FEDERAL CLERKSHIP

Law clerk to the Honorable Peter T. Fay, Senior Judge, United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit, 2000-2001

COMMUNITY MEMBERSHIP

  • Federal Bar Association, South Florida Chapter
  • President, 2017-2018
  • Executive Board Member, 2011 – present

– Chair: Director of IT & Social Media
– Previous Chair: Hyatt Luncheon Committee
– Member: 2021 Annual Convention Committee
– Member:  CLE Committee

  • Greater Miami Jewish Federation
  • Co-Chair of The Network Attorneys’ Division, 2013-2015
  • Board Member, Attorneys’ Division, 2013 – 2017
  • Organization for Leadership and Advancement in Miami (“OLAM”)
  • Selected as a participant in Leadership Development Program, 2015
  • Leadership Development Institute (“LDI”), Graduate, 2011

 
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  • Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, Government/Non-Profit, 2013-2019
  • SEC Director’s Award, November 2018: SEC v. Woodbridge Group of Companies, et al., Case No. 17-cv-24624-Cooke (S.D. Fla. 2017)
  • SEC Exceptional Service Award, June 2018, Mortgage Investment Funds Team
  • SEC Director’s Award, April 2018: SEC v. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Ltd., 16-cv-25298-Moore (S.D. Fla. 2016)
  • SEC Director’s Award, July 2016: In re UBS Financial Services Inc. of Puerto Rico, Exchange Act Rel. No. 76013, (September 29, 2015)
  • SEC Director’s Award, August 2015: SEC v. JCS Enterprises, et al., 14-cv-80468-Middlebrooks, (S.D. Fla. 2014)
  • National SEC Staff Excellence Award, June 2015: SEC v. BankAtlantic Bancorp. Inc., et al., 12-cv-60082-Gayles (S.D. Fla. 2012)
  • Florida Trend’s Legal Elite, Litigation, “Up and Coming”, 2012
  • Cystic Fibrosis Foundation “40 Under 40” Outstanding Young Lawyers of Miami-Dade, 2011

 
SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS

  • FIU College of Law, Securities Enforcement Class:

– Guest Lecturer, 2014-2019

  • School District of West Palm Beach, Financial Literacy Boot Camp for Teachers,

– Guest Lecturer, June 12, 2019

  • National Active and Retired Federal Employees, Tips to Detect and Avoid Fraud

– Guest Speaker, October 19, 2018

  • Law Day, 2018, “Separation of Powers”

– Panel Moderator, “Paths and Challenges to Success,” May 11, 2018

  • Teen Discourse and Discussion with the Honorable Beth Bloom

– Speaker and student mock trial coach, December 1, 2017.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation, Parallel Investigation Training

– Guest Lecturer, October 4, 2017

  • North Beach Elementary, Bill of Rights Birthday

– Guest Speaker, December 2017 & 2018

  • SEC Chief Executives Conference: BankAtlantic–Issues Confronted & Lessons learned

– Panelist, September 18, 2015

  • SEC Southeastern Securities Conference:

– Panelist, Litigation Issues and Strategies, August 20, 2015

  • Financial Crimes Training, US Attorney’s Office, District of Puerto Rico:

– Guest Lecturer, May 21, 2015

  • Law Day, 2015 –“Dialogues on Freedom” regarding the Fourth Amendment:

– Presenter to local area high school students, May 1, 2015

  • Securities Law CLE, Federal Bar Association, South Florida Chapter:

– Panelist, March 27, 2015

  • FIU, ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting) Student Chapter and Beta Alpha Psi, (Accounting & Business Honor Society):

– Panelist, Life at the SEC, February 6, 2015

  • University of Miami School of Law, Public Interest Luncheon:

– Panelist, September 29, 2014

  • Bilzin Sumberg, LLP, Internal Trial Advocacy Training:

– Co-Teacher with the Hon. Ret. David M. Gersten, 2012-2014

BAR ADMISSIONS

  • Florida
  •  

COURT ADMISSIONS 

  • U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, 11th Circuit
  •  

EDUCATION  

University of Florida Levin College of Law, Gainesville, FL
J.D., with High Honors, December 2000

  • Magna Cum Laude
  • Order of the Coif
  • Florida Law Review, Editor-in-Chief, Fall 2000

 
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
B.A., English, May 1997