Mike Robotti specializes in defending corporations and individuals in investigations and litigation involving the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Mike also focuses his practice on internal corporate investigations and complex civil litigation. Mike has broad experience in cases alleging securities fraud, insider trading, theft of trade secrets, money laundering, public corruption, and other crimes. As a former federal prosecutor, Mike has extensive federal trial court and appellate court experience, and he regularly represents criminal defendants in federal court.
Mike also serves as Co-Leader of the firm's Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Team. He advises financial institutions and businesses on their AML obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), as well as other compliance requirements, with a particular focus on issues involving DOJ corporate enforcement policy, cryptocurrency, cannabis, and anti-corruption. Mike has authored several articles and spoken on several panels regarding these topics. Mike also is a regular contributor to Money Laundering Watch, Ballard Spahr's blog devoted to criminal and regulatory money laundering issues.
As a member of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York for nearly eight years, Mike served as deputy chief of the International Narcotics & Money Laundering section and as senior trial counsel for the Business & Securities Fraud section. Mike was a member of the trial team that prosecuted Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán Loera—the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, the world’s largest drug cartel. For his work on that case, in 2019, he received the Attorney General’s David Margolis Award for Exceptional Service, the DOJ’s highest honor. He also led the investigation of Genaro García Luna, a former Mexican cabinet official, who was convicted of protecting the Sinaloa Cartel in exchange for bribes.
Representative Matters Involving the DOJ & SEC
- Representation of technology company in multi-year parallel DOJ and SEC investigations into allegations of securities and tax fraud, resulting in no charges filed by DOJ and SEC.
- Representation of large financial institution in DOJ investigation into AML program.
- Representation of large financial institution in internal investigation related to alleged compliance program deficiencies.
Representative Civil Matters
- Representation of technology company in internal investigation into a theft of trade secrets from the company, resulting in a multi-million dollar settlement for the company.
- Representation of company and multiple individuals in civil RICO lawsuit, in federal district court and appellate court proceedings.
- Pro bono representation of local gay rights organization in suit against city for passing an ordinance and enacting a policy designed to ban protected speech under the First Amendment, including drag performances and homosexuality in public spaces. Successfully settled case on behalf of client, with city agreeing to fully repeal unconstitutional ordinance and pay $500,000 for harm caused and costs of bringing case (Tennessee Equality Project Foundation, Inc., v. The City of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, et al, 23-cv-01044 (M.D.Tenn.)).
Representative Matters at U.S. Attorney's Office
Prior to joining the firm, Mike was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York, where he investigated and prosecuted a wide variety of criminal cases. The following examples are representative of his experience as a federal prosecutor.
- United States v. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera: Prosecutor on three-month federal trial of drug kingpin and leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, the world’s largest drug cartel, who was convicted of engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, multiple drug conspiracy offenses, firearms offenses, and money laundering. One of the primary authors of the government’s brief on appeal, which resulted in Guzman Loera’s conviction being affirmed unanimously.
- Corporate Compliance Investigations: Lead prosecutor on investigations into several large corporations for their alleged failure to maintain adequate corporate compliance programs, including the failure to maintain an adequate anti-money laundering program under the BSA and the failure to maintain an adequate anti-diversion program under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
- United States v. Rivera, et al. Prosecutor on three-month federal trial that led to the conviction of the two leaders of a Brooklyn-based gang known as TF Mafia for racketeering, involving predicate acts of murder, sex trafficking, sex trafficking of children, interstate prostitution, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, witness tampering, and firearms charges, among other substantive charges.
Pro Bono Experience
Hon. Reena Raggi, U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, September 2012 – September 2013
Hon. Allyne R. Ross, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, October 2010 - September 2011
Criminal Justice Act Panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Criminal Justice Act Panel for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
LGBT Bar Association of New York, Member
The National LGBTQ+ Bar Association, Member
Federal Bar Council, Member
New York City Bar Association, Member, LGBTQ Rights Committee
Recognition & Accomplishments
Attorney General’s David Margolis Award for Exceptional Service, 2019 (DOJ’s highest honor)
Benchmark Litigation, Future Star, 2024
Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force Director’s Award, 2020
Guest Lecturer, "United States v. Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman Loera," New York University School of Law (2019-2023)
"Up-in-Smoke: A Cannabis Industry Guide to Managing Regulatory and Banking Relationships," Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)
"State of Cannabis: Understanding the Regulatory and Enforcement Framework in the U.S. and Canada," Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)
Panelist, “The Legal Marijuana Industry: An Update on Federal Policy Reform,” Kahner Global Cannabis Private Investment Summit
Presenter, “FinCEN’s Proposed AML Regulations for the Real Estate Industry,” Real Estate Services Providers Council
Presenter, “Compliance and the New York Cannabis Market,” West LegalEdcenter
Co-author, "Securities Question Stands After Contradicting Crypto Rulings," Law360, January 2024
Co-author, "Do NY's Cannabis Marketing Regs Violate 1st Amendment?" Law360, July 2022
Co-author, “Real Estate and Money Laundering: FinCen Issues Advanced Notice of Regulations for the Real Estate Industry,” The Real Estate Finance Journal, Spring 2022
Co-author, “Smoke & Mirrors: The New York Cannabis Law’s Illusory Lease Mandate,” Business Crimes Bulletin, November 2021
Co-author, “Joint Defense: The Need for Prospective New York Cannabis Companies to Implement Strong Compliance Programs Now,” New York Law Journal, October 2021
New York University School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 2008)
Order of the Coif
Florence Allen Scholar
Boston College (B.A., summa cum laude, 2004)
Arts & Sciences Honors Program
Political Science Honors Program
Highest Distinction in Major
Supreme Court of the United States
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York