News

Morvillo Abramowitz Welcomes Christopher B. Harwood, Leader of SDNY Civil Frauds Unit

11.26.18

NEW YORK – November 26, 2018 – Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello PC announces today that Christopher B. Harwood, Co-Chief of the Civil Frauds Unit in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, will join the firm as a partner, effective January 1, 2019. Chris will focus his practice on representing individuals, financial institutions, companies, and boards in high-stakes civil litigation, including False Claims Act, Bank Secrecy Act, and FIRREA matters, as well as in criminal and regulatory cases. 

As Co-Chief of the Civil Frauds Unit, Chris supervised approximately 40 attorneys in all aspects of their civil enforcement work, from investigation through trial. Over the course of his eight years in the Southern District of New York, Chris also personally litigated a wide range of civil enforcement matters, including cases brought under the False Claims Act, FIRREA, the Anti-Kickback Statute, and the Bank Secrecy Act. These cases involved financial fraud, healthcare fraud, federal programs and grant fraud, consumer fraud, and money laundering, and resulted in more than $2.3 billion in recoveries for the United States. In addition to litigating and supervising civil enforcement matters, Chris litigated defensive civil matters, prosecuted criminal matters, served as the Office’s coordinator of parallel (civil/criminal) proceedings, and was also the Office’s Civil Healthcare Fraud Coordinator. 

“We are thrilled to welcome Chris,” said Elkan Abramowitz. “He is a preeminent attorney with broad trial experience. He was known to be a measured leader by his colleagues in the Civil Division, where his practice focused on important issues relating to financial and healthcare fraud, as well as Bank Secrecy Act violations.” Robert J. Anello said, “Chris undoubtedly will be a significant addition to our outstanding civil litigation practice, headed by Edward M. Spiro and Judith L. Mogul.”

Notable matters that Chris handled at the U.S. Attorney’s Office include:

  • The first large-scale mortgage-fraud case arising out of the financial crisis to be brought under the False Claims Act, which settled for more than $200 million and served as the blueprint for numerous other mortgage-fraud actions across the country
  • Three subsequent mortgage-fraud cases against three of the country’s largest banks that resulted in a combined recovery of more than $1.8 billion
  • An action against another of the country’s largest banks for failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering program and file timely suspicious activity reports, which settled for $70 million
  • An action against the former chief compliance officer of an international money services business for Bank Secrecy Act violations, in which Chris obtained victories on multiple issues of first impression
  • False Claims Act cases against a major pharmaceutical company and a national pharmacy chain for paying kickbacks to doctors and patients, which settled for $54 million and $50 million, respectively
  • Two successful False Claims Act cases premised on the novel theory that the defendants—recipients of federal grant funds—provided material support to designated terrorist organizations
  • A series of coordinated civil/criminal cases against three companies and their executives for billing the government millions of dollars for after-school tutoring services that they never provided
  • A coordinated civil/criminal action against a prominent academic researcher for misappropriating federal grant funds.

“I’m very excited to join the team of exceptional lawyers at Morvillo Abramowitz,” Chris said. “I look forward to drawing on my experiences as a civil and criminal prosecutor to assist the firm’s clients.” 

At Morvillo Abramowitz, Chris will join a group of partners boasting ten alumni of United States Attorney’s Offices, including two Criminal Division Chiefs, a Chief Appellate Attorney, a Deputy Chief Appellate Attorney, a Chief of the Securities Fraud Unit, and a Chief of Health Care Fraud Prosecutions. In addition, as previously announced, Telemachus P. Kasulis, former Co-Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, will join the firm as a partner on the same day as Chris. 

“Chris’s enormous talent and deep experience handling cutting-edge civil litigation matters will be a tremendous asset to both our corporate and individual clients,” said Jodi Misher Peikin.

Prior to joining the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chris was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia. While at the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, Chris handled a full docket of defensive civil litigation, including cases arising under the First Amendment, the Administrative Procedure Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Rehabilitation Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Federal Tort Claims Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Privacy Act. Chris conducted civil trials during his stints in both the Southern District of New York and D.C., as well as appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

Chris previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Norman H. Stahl of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and to the Honorable Joseph L. Tauro of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. He also practiced at Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP. Chris currently teaches a course on legal writing and oral advocacy at Columbia Law School, and is a frequent speaker on civil enforcement matters. 

Chris received his J.D. from Cornell Law School in 2003, where he was an editor of the law review. He received his B.A. from Cornell University in 2000.