Mike Piazza focuses his practice on securities and white-collar litigation, accounting liability matters, business litigation and complex commercial litigation. He regularly handles the defense of individuals and companies faced with allegations of wrong doing asserted by US regulators (SEC, CFTC, FTC, PCAOB), the US Department of Justice, state attorneys general and foreign regulators. He is experienced with internal SEC procedures and enforcement policies, including those concerning the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Dodd-Frank whistleblower provisions.
Mike has extensive securities and white collar litigation experience. While at the SEC, he was the lead SEC trial attorney in the Commission’s accounting fraud lawsuit against ex-Gemstar CEO Henry Yuen, which resulted in one of the largest civil penalties ever obtained by the Commission at trial against an individual. Mike also was lead SEC trial counsel in a case against a rogue hedge fund operator. After a four-week jury trial in Dallas, the jury returned a verdict against the investment advisor on multiple counts of securities fraud.
In private practice, Mike has represented and defended numerous individuals, funds, and companies in SEC investigations and enforcement actions. He regularly represents large accounting firms in a variety of matters, and has represented individuals and firms before the California Board of Accountancy.
Mike has been a partner at other large international law firms, and has also held the position as the Regional Trial Counsel for the Pacific Regional Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Defended three outside directors of a mutual fund in an SEC investigation by the San Francisco Regional Office; no liability findings against any of the directors despite enforcement action against the fund’s manager (2017)*
Defended California real estate developer and his private equity fund in an SEC investigation by the Los Angeles Regional Office and obtained closure of the investigation with no enforcement recommendation (2017)*
Defended San Diego real estate developers in an SEC investigation by the Los Angeles Regional Office; obtained closure of the investigation within six months from inception with no enforcement recommendation (2017)*
Defended two individuals in an SEC investigation by the Chicago Regional Office concerning alleged violation of an SEC Bar Order; after a pre-Wells Notice meeting, obtained closure of the investigation with no enforcement recommendation despite Staff’s Threat of a Wells Notice (2016)*
Defended hedge fund manager and his fund against the SEC in a New York Regional Office investigation; obtained closure of the investigation with no enforcement recommendation (2015)*
In Re AirTouch Communications (2015): Represented the three independent outside directors in an SEC investigation into alleged accounting fraud; obtained declinations for all three directors*
Prime Mover Capital Partners LP, et al. v. Electronic Gaming Asia, et al. (S.D.N.Y. 2014, aff’d by the 2nd Circuit 2015): Represented 14 current and former officers and directors of Asian gaming company against securities fraud claims; obtained dismissal of all claims from district court, affirmed on appeal*
FTC v. Commerce Planet, Inc., et al. (C.D. Cal. 2013): Represented C-Level executive of an internet marketing company in trade practice matter concerning the use of negative options*
SEC v. Retail Pro, Inc., et al. (S.D.Cal. 2012): Represented C-Level executive from inception of SEC investigation through jury verdict in securities fraud matter*
Defended a Southern California-based hedge fund and two individual fund managers targeted in a joint SEC, DOJ and Houston District Attorney investigation; negotiated global settlement with no criminal charges (2009)*
Defended an individual involved in New York pension fund scandal (SEC, DOJ and New York Attorney General investigations) – obtained early plea deal (2008)*
Defended the former CFO of a multibillion-dollar hedge fund in connection with a dual SEC and New York Attorney General investigation into alleged accounting and disclosure improprieties (2007)*
Represented through trial a major hotel and casino operator in a lawsuit filed against it in San Diego by a Southern California Indian tribe over a failed development deal; obtained favorable verdict (2007)*
Defended the former outside counsel to a major semiconductor manufacturer in connection with a joint United States Attorney’s Office and SEC inquiry into alleged stock option backdating and disclosure issues (2007)*
Defended the former head of human resources of a major semiconductor manufacturer in connection with a joint USAO and SEC inquiry into alleged stock option backdating and disclosure issues (2007)*
Courts / Agencies
Supreme Court of the United States
US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
US District Court for the Southern District of New York
US District Court for the Central District of California
US District Court for the Eastern District of California
US District Court for the Northern District of California
US District Court for the Southern District of California
US District Court for the District of Arizona
US District Court for the District of Colorado
US District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
US District Court for the Northern District of Texas
US District Court for the Southern District of Texas
US District Court for the Western District of Texas
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