William M. McSwain is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor whose practice focuses on white collar defense, internal investigations, government investigations and complex business litigation. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review, a former law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and a former U.S. Marine Corps infantry officer and scout/sniper. He brings a creative and aggressive mindset to representing clients.
Bill routinely handles sensitive matters for clients in a variety of industries who face the threat of government investigations by prosecutors and regulators (most frequently the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) and high-stakes litigation. Many of these matters are favorably resolved without ever becoming public. But when it becomes necessary to take the fight to the courtroom, Bill has a record of success in even the most difficult cases that may appear to be unwinnable.
Recently, Bill recorded stunning victories in two highly-publicized criminal trials against the U.S. Department of Justice, each lasting three months. In the Philadelphia Traffic Court corruption case, Bill successfully defended Judge Mark Bruno against charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud, securing an acquittal on all charges. Read a news report about Bill’s closing argument to the jury. Bill successfully defended Dr. June Brown, a nationally-renowned charter school educator, against a massive 67-count federal indictment alleging conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and witness tampering, and seeking millions of dollars in forfeiture. The jury acquitted Dr. Brown on several counts and deadlocked on the others; the government eventually withdrew the case. NewsWorks provided a report about the jury verdict.
When Kingsway Financial Services, a Toronto-based insurance company, faced financial ruin due to the nationwide regulatory fallout from a controversial transaction in which it literally gave away a troubled subsidiary to 20 New York-based charities, Bill successfully defended the transaction in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. When the existence of Urban Outfitters’ Free People business line was threatened by a competitor’s trademark infringement, Bill defeated the competitor at trial and even secured an order sanctioning the competitor and requiring it to pay Urban Outfitters’ attorneys’ fees. When the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America faced eviction from its historic headquarters in downtown Philadelphia, Bill defeated the City of Philadelphia in a nationally publicized trial and again secured an award of attorneys’ fees for his client. And when a multi-billion dollar business line of a Fortune 500 client was threatened by an adversary’s legal challenge, Bill won an arbitration hearing in front of a panel of former federal and state court judges, securing full relief. (The opinion of the arbitration panel is confidential).
Other notable court cases that Bill has argued and won against long odds include: the Chester County, PA “Ten Commandments” case, in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that the Ten Commandments plaque on the façade of the Chester County Courthouse could remain, and Intel Corp. v. Hamidi, in which the California Supreme Court established the legal rules for electronic trespass liability on the Internet, ruling in favor of Bill’s client. Additionally, when counsel for a subsidiary of Allstate was brutally attacked by masked assailants in the middle of a medical billing fraud case against several chiropractors, Bill replaced the injured counsel and successfully pursued a civil RICO conspiracy charge against the defendants, which included a murder-for-hire plot.
Currently, Bill is defending Powhatan Energy Fund in a contentious $34 million market manipulation dispute with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that has received national headlines, including a feature in the Wall Street Journal. In his brief to the Commissioners, Bill described the FERC Office of Enforcement Staff’s case as “a pile of nonsense.”
In addition to his courtroom credentials, Bill has extensive experience spearheading investigations. While serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, he led grand jury investigations and subsequent prosecutions of a wide variety of federal white collar crime, including tax fraud, corporate fraud, bank fraud, federal procurement fraud, embezzlement, money laundering, and computer network intrusion. While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he was specially assigned to the Department of Defense in 2004 to be the lead staff investigator and Executive Editor of the “Church Report,” a worldwide examination of military interrogation techniques in the Global War on Terror that was commissioned by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and chaired by Vice Admiral Albert Church. Bill also authored a Wall Street Journal editorial concerning military interrogation. In private practice, Bill has conducted internal investigations on a wide variety of matters, ranging from allegations of insider trading by top executives at a Fortune 500 company to catastrophic workplace accidents.
- Currently represent Powhatan Energy Fund in $34 million market manipulation dispute against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
- Currently represent defendant charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering by U.S. Department of Justice in connection with U.S. government export credit guarantee program.
- Currently represent founder of investment company in fraud and obstruction of justice investigation by U.S. Department of Justice.
- Currently represent publicly traded asset management company in SEC investigation regarding various disclosure and accounting issues.
- Currently represent former general counsel of publicly traded real estate investment trust in SEC investigation regarding various disclosure issues.
- Represented former company executive in connection with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation by U.S. Department of Justice into the activities of the French conglomerate, Alstom. Case concluded with no charges against client.
- Represented defendant charged with multimillion-dollar RICO conspiracy by U.S. Department of Justice. Case resolved with no jail time for client.
- Represented general counsel of investment advisor in SEC investigation regarding inter-fund loans. Case concluded with no charges against client.
- Represented Pennsylvania state court judge against indictment for conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud brought by U.S. Department of Justice, USA v. Bruno,et al., Crim. No. 13-00039 (E.D. Pa.). Client acquitted of all charges.
- Represented charter school founder against 67-count indictment for conspiracy, wire fraud, obstruction of justice and witness tampering brought by U.S. Department of Justice, USA v. Brown, et al., Crim. No. 12-00367 (E.D. Pa.). Client acquitted of several charges and jury deadlocked on remaining charges.
- Represented Kingsway Financial Services in litigation against the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Insurance Dept. v. Kingsway Financial Services, Inc., et al., No. 611 M.D. 2009 (Pa. Commw. Ct.). Won case in 3–0 panel decision. Also successfully represented Kingsway in negotiations with state insurance departments across the United States, relating to issues in the litigation against the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance.
- Represented the directors of Malvern Federal Savings Bank against claims by an activist investor, Stilwell Value Partners VI, L.P. v. Hughes, et al., Civ. A. No. 201106139TT. After Malvern moved to dismiss the lawsuit, plaintiff voluntarily discontinued its claims.
- Represented the directors of Prudential Savings Bank against claims by an activist investor, Stilwell Value Partners I, L.P. v. Prudential Mutual Holding Co., et al., Civ. A. No. 064432 (E.D. Pa.). Court dismissed all but one claim, and plaintiff voluntarily withdrew the one remaining claim.
- Represented Fortune 500 client in American Arbitration Association hearing in which the business model for a multibillion dollar business line was at stake. Won hearing in 3-0 panel decision, securing full relief.
- Represented GeoInvesting, LLC against RICO, fraud, tortious interference, defamation and civil conspiracy claims by Chinese petroleum company, Longwei Petroleum Investment Holding Ltd v. GeoInvesting, LLC, et al., Civ. A. No. 131442 (E.D. Pa.). After GeoInvesting moved to dismiss the lawsuit, plaintiff voluntarily withdrew all claims.
- Represented GeoInvesting, LLC against tortious interference, fraud and defamation claims by Chinese fuel producer, Sino Clean Energy, Inc., v. GeoInvesting, LLC, et al., No. 651248/2011 (N.Y. Sup. Ct.). Court dismissed all claims.
- Represented a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT) in litigation against a restaurant developer for fraudulent inducement and civil conspiracy in PR Exton Square Property, L.P. v. BBC@Exton, LLC, et al., No. 1209811 (CCP Chester Cty., Pa.).
- Represented Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. in tortious interference and fraud lawsuit against major Polish chemical company, Air Products LLC v. Ciech, S.A., Civ. A. No. 126953 (E.D. Pa.).
- Represented Apollo Investment Corporation against fraudulent transfer claims of over $425 million, Giuliano v. CDSI I Holding Co., Inc., et al., Civ. A. No. 132776 (E.D. Pa.).
- Represented a subsidiary of Allstate, Encompass Insurance Company, in civil RICO lawsuit against defendant chiropractors, Encompass Insurance Co. v. Giampa, et al., Civ. A. No. 0511693 (D. Mass.). Successfully pursued murder-for-hire allegations against defendants after Encompass’ original counsel was brutally attacked.
- Represented Urban Outfitters in trademark infringement lawsuit against competitor in which existence of Urban’s Free People business line was at stake, Urban Outfitters, Inc., et al. v. BCBG Max Azria Group, Inc., et al., Civ. A. No. 064003 (E.D. Pa.). Won trial and award of sanctions and attorneys’ fees.
- Currently represent Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America against class action allegations regarding defective motors, Q+Food LLC v. Mitsubishi Fuso Truck of America, Inc, Civ. A. No. 14-06046 (D. N.J.).
- Defended Mercedes-Benz USA and Daimler AG against class action allegations regarding defective seat heaters, DiGiulio v. Mercedes-Benz USA, et al., Civ. A. No. 13-06349 (E.D. Pa.). After defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit, plaintiff voluntarily withdrew all claims.
- Defended Cingular Wireless (now AT&T Mobility) against multibillion dollar class action allegations, New v. Cingular Wireless, Civ. A. No. 05961 (N.D. Ala.). After class discovery, plaintiffs voluntarily dropped all claims.
- Currently represent Penn State University’s primary outside counsel in matters related to the Sandusky scandal.
- Represented two partners in major law firm in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit against sanctions levied by federal district court, Grider, et al. v. Keystone Health Plan Central, Inc., et al., 580 F.3d 119 (3d Cir. 2009). All sanctions vacated in 3-0 panel opinion.
- Represented the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America in litigation against the City of Philadelphia, Cradle of Liberty v. City of Philadelphia, Civ. A. No. 08-2429 (E.D. Pa.). Won trial and award of attorneys’ fees.
- Represented Chester County, PA in Chester County “Ten Commandments” case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Chester County, PA v. Freethought Society, et al., 334 F.3d 247 (3d Cir. 2003). Argued and won the case in 3-0 panel decision.
- Represented Kenneth Hamidi in dispute with Intel in the California Supreme Court, Intel v. Hamidi, 30 Cal.4th 1342 (2003). Argued and won the case in a 4-3 decision of the full Court.
Bill is active in the community and currently serves as the President of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Vice President of the Harvard Law School Alumni Association of Greater Philadelphia, a board member of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), a board member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Federalist Society, an editorial board member of the Legal Intelligencer (Pennsylvania’s daily legal newspaper), a member of the University of Pennsylvania Law School American Inn of Court, and an Assistant Solicitor for the Republican Committee of Chester County, PA.
He serves on the military academy selection boards for both U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey and U.S. Representative Ryan Costello. He has previously served as the Church Attorney for the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, is a graduate of the 2010 Core Class of Leadership Philadelphia, and is the founder of the pro bono legal clinic at Broad Street Ministry in Center City Philadelphia.
Recipient, Harvard Law School Heyman Fellowship for Federal Government Service
Best Oralist and Member of Winning Team, Ames Moot Court Competition, Harvard Law School
Editor, Harvard Law Review
Awards Methodology (www.drinkerbiddle.com/content/awards)
Bill is a fierce courtroom lawyer. He saved our company.Spencer Schneider, Chairman, Kingsway Financial Services (2009-2013)
Bill is fearless and treats our legal issues like his own personal mission.Dan David, Vice President, GeoInvesting
- Harvard Law School, J.D., 2000, Harvard Law Review
- Yale University, B.A., 1991, cum laude
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit (former law clerk to Hon. Marjorie O. Rendell)
- U.S. Attorney's Office (EDPA), Criminal Division (former Assistant U.S. Attorney)
- Federal Bar Association, EDPA Chapter, President
- Harvard Law School Alumni Association of Greater Philadelphia, Past President and current Vice President
- SEPTA, Board Member
- Federalist Society, Philadelphia Chapter, Board Member
- The Legal Intelligencer, Editorial Board Member
- Military Academy Selection Boards for U.S. Senator Patrick Toomey and U.S. Representative Ryan Costello
- University of Pennsylvania Law School American Inn of Court
- Republican Committee of Chester County, PA., Assistant Solicitor
- Broad Street Ministry Pro Bono Legal Clinic, Founder