Benjamin B. Wagner, the former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California, is a member of the firm’s White Collar Defense and Investigations, National Security, False Claims Act, FCPA, Cybersecurity, FDA and Health Care, Securities Enforcement, Litigation, and Anti-Money Laundering Practice Groups. Mr. Wagner’s practice focuses on the representation of corporate clients in internal investigations, compliance reviews, government investigations, and enforcement actions regarding business crimes and civil frauds, including healthcare fraud, the False Claims Act, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and government contract fraud.
Mr. Wagner is a Chambers-ranked attorney in White Collar Crime and Investigations, and is listed in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America® for white collar criminal defense. An experienced trial and appellate attorney, he has tried 18 felony criminal cases in federal court, and argued multiple appeals in the Ninth Circuit and the Fifth Circuit. Mr. Wagner received a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year “CLAY” award from California Lawyer Magazine in 2014, and a Meritorious Honor Award from the U.S. Department of State in 2006. In 2012 the Daily Journal named him as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in California. In 2018, he received a Champion of Educational Justice Award from California Rural Legal Assistance, Inc. for his pro bono work on a civil rights case involving disciplinary practices in Modesto City schools. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, he received the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Director’s Award for Superior Performance three times, for cases involving health care fraud, money laundering, and domestic terrorism.
Prior to joining Gibson Dunn, Mr. Wagner served as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California from November 2009 through April 2016. Appointed by President Obama, he oversaw the district’s three offices and 175 employees, covering over half the area of California. During his tenure, he was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, where he served for three years, working with Department leadership on national law enforcement policy. He was also appointed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch to serve as Co-Chair of the White Collar Crime Subcommittee. For five years Mr. Wagner also co-chaired the Mortgage Fraud Working Group of the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, a national multi-agency group that worked to enhance mortgage fraud enforcement. As U.S. Attorney, Mr. Wagner oversaw investigations leading to multi-billion dollar settlements with two national financial institutions, and numerous investigations under the False Claims Act in the health care, defense and education industries that led to record FCA recoveries in the district.
Mr. Wagner served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney and as Chief of the Special Prosecutions Unit in the Eastern District between 1992 and 2009, handling investigations, trials and appeals in criminal matters involving financial fraud, tax evasion, health care fraud, money laundering, domestic terrorism, public corruption, and other offenses. From 2007 to 2009, he served as the office’s anti-terrorism coordinator. From 2005 to 2006, he served as the Department of Justice’s first Resident Legal Advisor in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he provided technical assistance to Indonesian law enforcement authorities addressing terrorism, public corruption, cybercrimes, money laundering and other issues. As U.S. Attorney, as a supervising Assistant U.S. Attorney, and as a national security prosecutor, he held a security clearance and supervised investigations and prosecutions involving cyber intrusions, hacking and cyber espionage.
Prior to his government service, Mr. Wagner was an Associate at the New York office of a national law firm for over five years, where his practice involved both civil litigation and corporate finance transactions.
Mr. Wagner earned his Juris Doctor in 1986 from New York University School of Law, where he was Managing Editor of the Journal of International Law and Politics. He received his undergraduate degree in 1982 from Dartmouth College.
Mr. Wagner is a member of the Board of Trustees of Menlo College.
Mr. Wagner is admitted to practice in California and New York.
- Conducted an internal investigation for the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors of a multinational technology company into whistleblower allegations alleging financial improprieties by corporate officers.
- Retained by the California Legislative Counsel Bureau to conduct independent investigations of allegations of sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct by Members and senior staff of the State Senate and Assembly.
- Secured a full declination by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of a technology company following a two-year grand jury investigation.
- Represented a major energy company in negotiating a national agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice resolving a three-year investigation into alleged environmental crimes.
- Represented a major software company in responding to an SEC inquiry on an accounting issue.
- Represents a pharmaceutical company in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation.
- Represented a witness who testified at trial on behalf of a major investor victim in the prosecution of Elizabeth Holmes, the former Theranos CEO.
- Represented a large technology company in litigation with the U.S. Department of Justice over the scope of the Wiretap Act.
- Represented the CEO of a public company in connection with an insider trading investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC.
- Conducted an FCPA review of transactions in Latin America for a global hardware distribution company.
- Conducted an internal investigation of potential antitrust activity by salesmen at an electronic components company.
- Conducted an internal investigation of a potential contracting issue involving a public agency employee for a large technology company.
- Won dismissal of a case in California state court seeking $200 million in damages arising out of a shareholder dispute.
- Represents a witness in a U.S. Department of Justice investigation of public corruption.
- Secured a dismissal with prejudice of False Claims Act and civil RICO claims against an industrial company.
- Conducted an investigation into allegations of fraud on a U.S. District court as a part of a court-appointed expert team.
- Retained by a cloud computing and software company to perform a cyber-fraud compliance review.
- Representing an executive in an appeal from a federal fraud conviction.
- Represented luxury hotel owners in state court litigation to clear title involving the filing of fraudulent transfer deeds.
- Represented a company in federal civil litigation relating to an alleged breach of a long term supply contract.
- Advised a large technology company on potential risks under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act associated with a corporate restructuring.
- Provided advice to the California State Senate and California Assembly on ethics issues and federal public corruption enforcement.
- Represented a business executive charged with wire fraud in a federal prosecution and in an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
- Represented a mobile gaming company in civil litigation with a web hosting company involving claims of breach of contract and fraud.
Recent Publications and Speaking Engagements
- Panelist, “Truth, Lies and Consequences: Trial Lessons Learned from the Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes cases,” Association of Business Trial Lawyers webcast, January 25, 2022
- Co-Author, “The Evolution of Privacy Enforcement in California – CPRA and the CA Attorney General’s Office,” The Recorder, January 22, 2021
- Debate Moderator, “Did President Trump Commit a Criminal or Impeachable Offense” a debate between Professor Alan Dershowitz and former US Attorney Steven Dettelbach, Dartmouth Lawyers Association’s Inaugural Daniel Webster Debate, New York, December 4, 2019
- Presentation, “Fighting Fraud and Protecting Your Bottom Line,” Mortgage Bankers Association’s Accounting and Financial Management Conference, San Diego, November 19, 2019
- Panelist, What Does It Mean to Have an ‘Independent Judiciary?,’ Stanford Law Review Symposium on The Independence of the American Judicial System: Politics and Separation of Powers, Stanford University, February 9, 2019
- Panelist, Trade Secret Protection, Enforcement and Litigation, San Francisco, September 27, 2018
- Panelist, Risk and Liability Issues, Best Practices Launching AI and Autonomous Products, Palo Alto, May 30, 2018
- Panelist, “New Federalism” in Theory and Practice, Annual Northern District of California Judicial Conference, April 21, 2018
- Panelist, Police Powers: Criminal Justice and Federalism, Stanford Law Review symposium on Federalism in an Age of Polarization, Stanford University, February 10, 2018
- Panelist, Fintech Enforcement and Compliance Risks panel, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners’ Fintech Fraud Summit, San Francisco, March 17, 2017
- Panelist, Trump Administration Implications, Bay Area Ethics and Compliance Association, Foster City, March 3, 2017
- “Reflections on Leadership in Government and Private Practice,” 69 Stanford Law Review 1847 (2017)
- Panelist, Raising the Bar, Stanford Law Review symposium on Leadership and the Law, Stanford University, February 11, 2017
- Panelist, Changes in Healthcare Industry and Government Response, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Healthcare Conference, Stanford University, January 26, 2017
- Testimony, U.S. Department of Justice witness on federal narcotics enforcement , U.S. Senate International Drug Caucus, Washington, D.C., April 5, 2016*
- Panel Moderator, Trends in International White Collar Cases, U.S. Attorneys’ National Conference, Washington, D.C., March 15, 2016*
- Panelist, Lobbying and Corruption Issues, Institute of Governmental Advocates Annual Conference, Napa, October 29, 2015*
- Opening and closing remarks, and panel moderator, National DOJ Individual Accountability Initiative Conference, Washington, D.C., September, 16-17, 2015*
- Panelist, Obtaining and Negotiating Corporate Deferred and Non-Prosecution Agreements, ABA Business Law Section Annual Conference, San Francisco, April 18, 2015*
- Testimony, U.S. Department of Justice witness on Proposed Amendments in Sentencing Guidelines for Economic Crimes, U.S. Sentencing Commission, Washington, D.C., March 12, 2015*
- Panelist, Advocacy in White Collar Sentencing, ABA National Institute on White Collar Crime, Las Vegas, March 7, 2013*
- Testimony, U.S. Department of Justice witness on prosecution of mortgage fraud, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, Sacramento, September 23, 2010*
*Engagements prior to joining Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher