• Gary P. Naftalis is one of the nation’s leading trial lawyers and pre-eminent litigators. Gary represents corporations, as well as officers, directors and significant individuals, in all phases of complex high-stakes civil, criminal and regulatory matters. His work on behalf of these clients spans more than four decades and includes many sensitive and high-profile matters, including governmental and regulatory inquiries and related civil litigation involving allegations of insider trading, market manipulation, accounting irregularities, stock options backdating and other financial fraud. Throughout his career he has been one of the first calls for corporate leaders encountering legal problems.

    Gary has also argued significant appeals in appellate courts throughout the country. In addition, he has served as counsel to audit and special committees of a number of major public companies in connection with regulatory issues.

    Gary’s most notable work on behalf of clients includes his successful defense of Michael Eisner, the CEO of The Walt Disney Co., in the shareholder derivative lawsuit related to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Mr. Eisner and the other Disney directors prevailed on all counts. The National Law Journal chose the Disney decision as one of the top defense wins of that year. Gary also successfully secured dismissal for Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange Compensation Committee, of all charges brought against him by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of NYSE Chairman Richard Grasso.

    Other notable matters include the representation of the city of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building at the World Trade Center, in which no charges were brought against the city or any of its agencies or its officials, and the defense of Sirius XM Radio in a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking $330 million in damages, in which Gary secured summary judgment in favor of Sirius dismissing the case. The court found that the “clear, unambiguous language” of the contract defeated Stern’s claim. More recently, Gary defended Rajat K. Gupta, the former managing director worldwide of McKinsey, in both a high-profile criminal insider trading trial and a parallel Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) enforcement action, where he obtained a precedent-setting decision challenging the attempt by the SEC to utilize an administrative process rather than go to court.

    Gary successfully represented pro bono Congregation Jeshuat Israel, the congregation that has worshipped for the past 130 years at Touro Synagogue, the nation’s oldest synagogue, in a dispute with a New York City congregation over the ownership of the synagogue and valuable silver bells (rimonim) that adorn Torah scrolls and were made by colonial silversmith Myer Myers. After a two-week trial in federal court, Jeshuat Israel prevailed on all issues. The American Lawyer Daily named Gary Litigator of the Week for his success in this two-week trial. In June 2017, The American Lawyer named the case one of the nation’s top pro bono accomplishments of 2016.

    Gary has long been regarded as the man to see by securities industry clients in sensitive “bet the company” matters, including federal and state criminal actions, SEC investigations, and civil litigation. He successfully defended Salomon Brothers in the federal criminal and SEC investigations of U.S. Treasury auction bidding practices, and Kidder, Peabody & Co. in connection with the Wall Street insider trading scandal. In both instances, he persuaded the U.S. government not to bring criminal charges. He also represented Kidder, Peabody in multiple related civil litigations in which the company faced more than $2 billion in damage claims. In addition, he represented the CEO of Arthur Andersen in the Enron matter; the chairman of Global Crossing; the COO of MF Global; the CEO of Refco; the CEO of WorldCom; and major figures in inquiries involving Drexel Burnham, Orange County, CA, Cendant, Tyco, Bank of Credit and Commerce International, and British Petroleum.

    Gary is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has been repeatedly recognized as one of America’s premier litigators and trial lawyers. The National Law Journal named him a 2015 White Collar Trailblazer and also named him one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America” the past two times it has compiled the list — in 2013 and in 2006. The Legal 500 has named him one of the “Leading Trial Lawyers in the United States” every year since 2007, when it first compiled its list; and Super Lawyers also has named him one of the “Top 10 Lawyers in New York” every year since 2007 (ranking him No. 1 in 2008, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and No. 2 in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2018). Gary received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the New York Law Journal in 2017. He has been recognized by Benchmark Litigation since 2008 as litigation star and as one of America's Leading Trial Lawyers. Gary also received Benchmark's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. In 2015, he received the Milton Gould Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy from the Office of the Appellate Defender. In 2012, he received the New York Council of Defense Lawyers Norman Ostrow Award in recognition of his white collar defense achievements. Gary also received the 2011 Chambers USA Award for Excellence in White Collar Crime and Government Investigations. He has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America since 1993 in five categories — Bet-the-Company Litigation, White Collar Criminal Defense, Regulatory Enforcement, Securities Litigation and Commercial Litigation. He has also been cited as one of America’s leading lawyers by Lawdragon 500 every year since 2006, and named a Lawdragon 500 Legend in 2016. In 2017, Lawdragon 500 named Gary to its Hall of Fame, which recognizes those lawyers whose mark on the legal profession is indelible, celebrating their enduring contributions to the legal profession. He has been named as one of America’s leading trial lawyers by Chambers Global and Chambers USA and was chosen in 2018 as the nation’s most highly regarded corporate business crime defense lawyer by Who’s Who Legal. In 2019, Chambers USA described Gary as a “go-to trial lawyer” and “one of the masters-he deservedly has one of the best reputations” for defending “individuals and corporations facing major civil and criminal proceedings”. In previous years, Chambers USA quoted clients who said: "Working with him is an excellent experience. His strength is his common sense and unbelievable intelligence and knowledge of the law. He is also fantastic at explaining legal issues to non-legal professionals" (2018), “Clients offer superlative praise: ‘He is superb as litigation counsel. He has great intelligence, and is a likable person and an excellent strategist’” (2017) and “‘Giant of the Bar’ Gary Naftalis is a nationally recognized trial lawyer whose experience includes some of the largest criminal and civil cases in recent history” (2016). Chambers also named Gary one of the top four “star individuals” among white collar criminal defense lawyers in New York in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

    Gary’s litigation successes have been the subject of numerous profiles over the years, including the New York Times in 2011 (“Columbo with a Law Degree”); the Wall Street Journal in 2006 (“The Zelig of the White Collar Bar: He’s Everywhere”) and in 2011 (“Gary Naftalis: Back in the Spotlight Again”); Super Lawyers in 2010 (“The Ultimate Lawyer Statesman”); The American Lawyer in 2006 (“The Velocity of Gary”); the fall 2014 ABA Litigation Journal; and the New York Law Journal in 1987 (“A Way Out: Naftalis, GE Work as a Team to Avert Kidder Indictment”).

    In addition to the many honors he has received over the course of his career from within the legal profession, Gary was awarded the Benemerenti Medal by Pope Benedict XVI. He also received the Robert M. Morgenthau Award for the Legal Profession by the Police Athletic League, the George A. Katz Torch of Learning Award by American Friends of the Hebrew University, the Law and Society Award by New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the Robert F. Wagner Jr. Award by the Citizens Union of the City of New York, the Judge Simon H. Rifkind Award by the Jewish Theological Seminary, the John J. McCloy Award by The Fund for Modern Courts, and the Saint Thomas More Award by the Inner-City Scholarship Fund.

    Earlier in his career, Gary served as assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York and deputy chief of the Criminal Division. He also served as special counsel to the U.S. Senate subcommittee investigating abuses in the nursing home industry.

    Gary has been a lecturer at Columbia Law School and a member of the faculty of Harvard Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including leading works on the grand jury system, The Grand Jury: An Institution on Trial (with the Honorable Marvin E. Frankel), and on sentencing, Sentencing: Helping the Judges Do Their Jobs (also with Judge Frankel).

    Experience

    • Successfully defended the general counsel and CFO of the Southland Corporation against proxy fraud charges.

    • Successfully represented a high-ranking investment banker from a major securities firm, who was not charged with any wrongdoing, in the investigation relating to Orange County California Municipal Financing.

    • Successfully represented a prominent Saudi Arabian banker against state criminal charges and in proceedings before the Federal Reserve Board relating to the disposition of his interest in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), as well as complex civil litigation brought by the liquidators of BCCI seeking $10 billion in damages. All U.S. civil, criminal and regulatory charges were ultimately dismissed.

    • Successfully defended at trial Louisiana-Pacific Corp. and its CEO in a lawsuit brought by International Paper seeking to enforce a covenant not to compete.

    • Successfully defended Michael Eisner, the CEO of The Walt Disney Co., in the shareholders derivative lawsuit relating to the hiring and termination of Michael Ovitz. After a 37-day trial in the Delaware Court of Chancery, Mr. Eisner and the other Disney directors prevailed on all counts.

    • Successfully defended the former head of the New York City Transit Authority on conflict of interest charges.

    • Successfully represented Canary Capital Partners in the mutual fund market-timing investigations by the New York Attorney General and related civil litigations.

    • Represented the city of New York in the inquiry by the New York County District Attorney relating to the fire at the Deutsche Bank building. No charges were brought against the city, any of its agencies or its officials.

    • Successfully represented the investment banking firm CIBC in the investigation conducted by the Enron Task Force.

    • Successfully represented United Rentals in various securities litigations and regulatory matters.

    • Successfully represented institutions and individuals in the investigations of Drexel Burnham, including Drexel customers and a high-ranking former Drexel executive, none of them ultimately charged by the government.

    • Successfully represented numerous securities industry clients in bet-the-company matters, including Salomon Brothers in the federal criminal and SEC investigations of U.S. Treasury auction bidding practices, and Kidder, Peabody & Co. in connection with the Wall Street insider trading scandal. In both instances, he persuaded the U.S. government to not bring criminal charges. He also represented Kidder, Peabody in multiple civil litigations, in which Kidder faced more than $2 billion in damage claims.

    • Successfully represented the chairman and founder of Global Crossing in regulatory and congressional inquiries.

    • Obtained summary judgment for a prominent Washington, D.C., law firm in litigation arising out of the failure of Bennett Funding.

    • Represented E. Robert Wallach, a San Francisco attorney and counsel to former Attorney General Edwin Meese, in a lengthy federal criminal trial arising out of the Wedtech government contracting scandal. The charges against Mr. Wallach were subsequently dropped.

    • Represented Ian Schrager in the Studio 54 tax evasion case.

    • Defended Daiwa Securities America in securities litigation arising out of its underwriting of a Chinese telecommunications company, whose insiders allegedly misrepresented the company’s business.

    • Defended Rajat K. Gupta, McKinsey’s former managing director worldwide, in both a criminal insider trading prosecution and a parallel SEC civil enforcement action. The SEC initially commenced an administrative proceeding against Mr. Gupta, in a proceeding that would have denied Mr. Gupta a jury and the protections of the federal rules of procedure and evidence, rather than suing in federal district court. In response, Mr. Gupta sued the SEC in federal court, alleging that the agency had deprived him of his constitutional right to equal protection by singling him out for disparate and prejudicial treatment. In a precedent-setting opinion, the court denied the SEC’s motion to dismiss this action, finding that a federal district court action provided Mr. Gupta with the only meaningful forum to pursue his constitutional claim. Thereafter, the SEC dropped its administrative case. After a four-week criminal trial in June 2012, Mr. Gupta was acquitted on two counts of the indictment, but was convicted on certain other counts.

    • Defended Raymond Harding, former leader of the Liberal Party, against charges arising out of the New York State attorney general’s inquiry into the New York State Pension Funds.

    • Represented many significant figures and entities in governmental inquiries and related civil litigation concerning corporate accounting irregularities, including the CFOs of Affiliated Computer Services, Cendant, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Oxford Health Systems, and the former CEO of Refco.

    • Secured dismissal of derivative and shareholder claims against the Lenfest Group and Comcast Corp.

    • Secured summary judgment for Sirius XM Radio dismissing a breach of contract action by Howard Stern seeking $330 million in damages. The court found that the “clear, unambiguous language” of the contract defeated Stern’s claim. The Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court unanimously upheld the dismissal of Stern’s lawsuit.

    • Successfully defended a director and senior officer of Tyco in securities class action and ERISA litigation, the former CEO of Arthur Andersen in Enron civil litigation, and the former CEO of WorldCom in securities class action litigation.

    • Represents Muriel Siebert, the first woman member of the New York Stock Exchange, and Siebert Financial Corporation in litigation with the firm’s former chief operating officer.

    • Represents the former president and chief operating officer of MF Global in government inquiries and related civil litigation in connection with the collapse of the firm.

    • Secured dismissal for Kenneth Langone, former chair of the New York Stock Exchange Compensation Committee, of all charges brought against him by then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer relating to the compensation of New York Stock Exchange chairman Richard Grasso. Following a decision by the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court directing dismissal of the lawsuit, the attorney general announced he would not appeal and dropped the case.

    Credentials

    Education

    • LL.B., Columbia Law School
      • Editor, Columbia Law Review
    • M.A., Brown University
    • A.B., Phi Beta Kappa,, Rutgers University

    Bar Admissions

    • New York, 1967

    Clerkships

    • Honorable William B. Herlands, U.S.D.C., Southern District of New York

    Court Admissions

    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S.C.A., 1st Circuit
    • U.S.C.A., 2nd Circuit
    • U.S.C.A., 3rd Circuit
    • U.S.C.A., 5th Circuit
    • U.S.C.A., D.C. Circuit
    • U.S.D.C., Eastern District of New York
    • U.S.D.C., Southern District of New York
    • U.S.D.C., Eastern District of Michigan

    Professional Affiliations

    • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
    • The Grand Jury Project, Member, Appointed by Chief Judge Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals
    • Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Judicial Department, Member