Criminal & Regulatory Defense

Waymaker defends clients nationwide in law enforcement and regulatory investigations, trials, and appeals. It regularly handles cases involving the FBI, SEC, CFTC, FTC, CFPB, Department of Justice investigators, and federal, state, and local prosecutors around the country. The firm’s attorneys have experience in all aspects of criminal and government enforcement defense, including in the areas of fraud, corruption, tax, securities, healthcare, cybersecurity, and financial technology. Several attorneys – Brian Klein, Keri Axel and Melissa Meister – bring substantial criminal trial experience and subject matter expertise, having worked as federal prosecutors; they also have relevant agency experience, as Keri worked in the Enforcement Division at the SEC and Melissa worked in the Civil Frauds Section at DOJ, where she investigated and litigated civil actions regarding alleged procurement fraud.

At Waymaker, we use our broad experience to guide individuals and companies (including entrepreneurs, professionals, iconoclastic companies, celebrities, and high-profile start-ups) through the particular challenges posed by criminal investigations and trials. For example, the firm successfully defended Cesar Millan (the “Dog Whisperer”) when the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Control and District Attorney’s Office investigated allegations of animal abuse tied to one of Mr. Millan’s television shows. The authorities ultimately concluded Mr. Millan did nothing wrong and did not bring any charges. The firm is currently representing Virgil Griffith, who is being prosecuted out of the Southern District of New York on charges that a speech he gave in North Korea violated sanction laws.

We have successfully defended clients in cutting-edge prosecutions, including those involving drones, blockchain technology, and digital assets. We have also defended clients from more traditional industries such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, construction, property management, telemarketing, and the securities industry.

Representative samples of prior engagements are listed below, but much of our criminal defense work leads to favorable resolution before any public disclosure. When it is in the clients’ best interests, we work to minimize exposure through discreet negotiations with government officials. Our attorneys often persuade law enforcement or regulators to decline to bring criminal charges or other sanctions, including monetary sanctions. When trial is in a client’s best interest, we rely on our extensive trial experience and zealous advocacy to pursue an acquittal or dismissal. We advocate forcefully for its clients in every setting.

Representative Criminal Defense Engagements:

  • United States v. Virgil Griffith
    Currently defending Mr. Griffith in a criminal prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. Mr. Griffith allegedly violated North Korean sanctions for a speech at a conference in Pyongyang.
  • United States v. Paige Thompson
    Currently defending Paige Thompson in a criminal proceeding in the Western District of Washington. Ms. Thompson is alleged to have hacked into Capital One and other entities in one of the largest alleged hacks in U.S. history.
  • United States v. Marcus Hutchins
    Defended Marcus Hutchins in a criminal prosecution brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin for cybercrimes dating back to 2014. Following a plea, Mr. Hutchins was sentenced to no prison time; in fact, adopting our arguments, the district court judge suggested that Mr. Hutchins seek a pardon due to his exemplary conduct in stopping the “WannaCry” ransomware attack in May 2017.
  • United States v. Burt Wagner
    Defended Mr. Wagner in a criminal prosecution brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado tied to his Bitcoin trading. Mr. Wagner was alleged to have operated an unlicensed money transmitting business. Before trial, we secured a dismissal of the case.
  • People v. Dr. Fenton
    Defended Dr. Fenton in one of the largest healthcare criminal prosecutions in California state history. Dr. Fenton secured a no-prison time plea deal.

Representative Regulatory Defense Engagements:

  • In the Matter of, Securities Act Release No. 10714
    Represented before the SEC in New York, reaching a landmark settlement related to’s unregistered initial coin offering (ICO) of digital tokens that raised the equivalent of several billion dollars.
  • CFTC Investigation
    Represented a technology company founder under investigation for personal trading by the CFTC. After extensive back-and-forth, we persuaded the CFTC to drop its investigation before any charges were filed.

In 2021, Baker Marquart became Waymaker. Information on this website reflects results obtained by Baker Marquart. Please click here to learn more about our name change.