Mark is a litigator and longtime former federal prosecutor in the Firm's Criminal Defense & Government Investigations practice. Mark has over thirty years of experience in handling complex criminal matters and is a seasoned trial lawyer, having tried over 100 cases to verdict—and he uses that experience to vigorously defend individuals and businesses in both civil and criminal matters in federal and state court throughout the Southeastern United States—and beyond. Mark is a Shareholder practicing primarily from Maynard Nexsen’s Columbia office.
Prior to joining the Firm in late 2013, Mark served for more than 20 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) in the District of South Carolina. During his time as an AUSA, Mark held a number of management positions (Deputy Criminal Chief, White Collar Chief, Narcotics/Organized Crime Chief, and Public Corruption Chief, to name a few) and prosecuted just about every type of crime imaginable. He also coordinated civil and criminal investigations involving the False Claims Act--and he is now a seasoned, capable and tenacious defense lawyer who uses his experience to assist the Firm’s clients. One of the professional accomplishments of which Mark is most proud is the “Not Guilty” verdict he achieved in his first case as a criminal defense lawyer, defending a health care professional who was wrongly accused of participating in health care fraud. To Mark, that “Not Guilty” verdict meant more to him and his client that all of the “Guilty” verdicts he achieved as a prosecutor.
Mark focuses his practice on counseling businesses and individuals during times when they are at their most vulnerable — when they are dealing with the government. Mark represents individuals and companies in connection with both federal and state criminal and grand jury investigations. He also devotes a substantial portion of his practice representing companies and individuals who receive Civil Investigative Demands (CIDS) and administrative subpoenas or who become subjects of federal civil investigations involving alleged violations of the False Claims Act (FCA). He has also developed substantial experience handling both criminal and civil anti-trust matters.
Mark regularly conducts internal investigations on behalf of companies whose employees are alleged to have committed violations of both criminal and civil, state and federal laws. He has particular experience in assisting government contractors in governmental investigations and representing them in business disputes. Mark works closely with the firm’s Health Care and Government Solutions practice groups in representing health care entities/professionals and government contractors.
Finally, as an accomplished trial lawyer who can try any type of case, Mark also handles complex business litigation matters, regularly assisting companies in business disputes—and he regularly advises and represents governmental entities in connection with civil litigation including Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), legislative redistricting, and statutory construction.
Since joining the firm, Mark has successfully defended clients in some of the firm's most notable and controversial matters. Some of Mark's recent high-profile cases include:
- Served as lead counsel for a defendant charged with multiple felonies in connection with the negligent discharge of chemicals into a West Virginia river. Mark successfully negotiated a plea to misdemeanor offenses and the return of more than $7 million dollars in assets which had been seized by the federal government.
- Obtained an acquittal after a two-week federal trial for a client charged with health care fraud.
- Serving as co-counsel for a Fortune 150 company in several related FCA qui tam cases currently pending in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.
- Retained to represent prominent state government entity in connection with a State Grand Jury public corruption probe.
- Served as co-counsel in a highly publicized FCA case and persuaded the district court to reject an argument by the federal government seeking to use statistical sampling to establish liability against a health care fraud provider.
- Negotiated the dismissal of federal money laundering charges for a client who had been wrongfully accused by federal prosecutors.
- Served as lead trial counsel in a highly-publicized prosecution in the Southern District of New York stemming from an undercover and wiretap investigation related to NCAA basketball. Mark successfully advocated for a minimum six-month sentence for his client after a four-week long trial.
- Served as lead trial counsel representing the Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives and other House officials in a highly-publicized federal redistricting case involving both federal and state House districts.
- Serving as lead counsel representing an engineering company who is an Anti-Trust Leniency Applicant in a related federal, civil and criminal No-Poach cases pending in the District of Connecticut.
Some of Mark’s greatest successes have received no publicity as he has successfully negotiated immunity and non-prosecution agreements for both corporate and individual clients. He has also obtained “non-intervention” decisions from the Government in FCA cases involving both health care providers and government contractors.
Memberships and Appointments
In 2018, Mark was appointed by Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to serve as the District of South Carolina’s representative on the Fourth Circuit’s Criminal Justice Act Appellate Advisory Panel Committee—and he continues to serve in that role.
Mark is a member of the Federal Bar Association’s South Carolina Chapter and served as co-chair of that chapter’s Criminal Section from 2018-2021.
Mark is a member of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) White Collar Section and has served as a featured speaker at the ABA’s annual White Collar Section in connection with the NCAA federal criminal matter discussed above. Mark is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL).
Mark was appointed by the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina in 2014 to serve as a member of United States Magistrate Judge selection committee.
Prior to the firm
As first a state and later a federal prosecutor, Mark was an accomplished trial attorney sometimes described as a "bulldog" for his “take no prisoners” reputation in the courtroom.
After serving as a judicial law clerk, he worked as an Assistant Solicitor in South Carolina's Ninth Judicial Circuit in Charleston. As a state prosecutor, he tried multiple cases and focused on handling complicated drug cases.
After joining the United States Attorney’s Office in Columbia in 1989, Mark focused on complex white collar and organized crime cases and quickly developed a reputation as one of the office’s primary “go- to” trial lawyers. As a federal prosecutor, Mark tried more than 75 cases, including a two-month long trial of 18 defendants which ranks as the longest federal criminal trial in South Carolina history. Mark conducted long-term, complex federal grand jury investigations and also developed extensive experience in public corruption, racketeering and heath care fraud cases. He routinely sought and obtained permission to use court-authorized wiretaps in various types of cases, including those involving narcotics, racketeering, fraud and public corruption.
Mark has worked on joint investigations with the South Carolina Attorney General's Office where he was designated as a Special Assistant Attorney General for South Carolina.
From 1997 until 2000, Mark served the Department of Justice (DOJ) as a Special Counsel with the DOJ's Office of Inspector General. In Washington, New York, Chicago and Miami, Mark worked on a special, Congressionally-mandated, internal investigation into the then-Immigration and Nationalization Service's handling of the Citizenship USA program.
He served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney in four different judicial districts (Eastern District of North Carolina, Western District of North Carolina, Middle District of Georgia and Southern District of West Virginia). In that role, Mark handled cases and coordinated investigations at the request of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA).
For more than 15 years, Mark served EOUSA as an instructor at the National Advocacy Center (NAC) and he served for more than ten years as an Export Administration Regulations evaluator and team leader conducting peer reviews of various United States Attorney’s Offices around the country.
Community & Professional
- American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section
- Federal Bar Association, South Carolina Chapter
- South Carolina Bar Columbia Bar Association
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Pawmetto Lifeline, Board of Directors
- St. John’s Episcopal Church
Mark has tried approximately 75 criminal cases in state and federal courts and has handled a number of complicated high-profile cases. A few of the most notable cases included:
United States v. Pienkos, et al
This case involved multiple defendants who were found not guilty of conspiring to commit health care fraud.
United States v. Kenyon et al
Racketeering prosecutions of South Carolina attorney and New York businessman involving predicate acts of mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and murder.
United States v. Sharpe
Mark led the first federal prosecution of a sitting South Carolina constitutional officer when he prosecuted South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Charlie Sharpe under the Hobbs Act.
United States v. Butts
This health care fraud case involved multiple defendants (including an attorney and several CPAs) who were convicted of defrauding Medicare in a related-parties scheme.
United States v. Morgan, et al; United States v. Betenbaugh et al; United States v. Wells
A series of cases related to the prosecution of public officials (including a mayor, county supervisor, county assessor and former sheriff ) from Union, South Carolina.
United States v. Cromartie
Income tax evasion and financial structuring prosecution of attorney and Columbia city councilman.
United States v. Pinson, et al; United States v. Zahn; United States v. Bartley
A series of related prosecutions of a South Carolina State University Board Chairman and associates in connection with a complicated bribery/kickback scheme.
United States v. Dong and GenPhar
Related prosecutions of a biotechnology firm and its president involving various offenses related to fraud in the application for and use of federal grant funds and in making illegal federal campaign contributions.
United States v. Melvin
This racketeering trial of the Lee County Sheriff involved charges including drug distribution, soliciting and accepting kickbacks and making false statements.
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Criminal Justice Act Appellate Panel Committee (2018-2020)
- Co-chair of the South Carolina Federal Bar Association’s Criminal Law Committee
- United States Magistrate Judge Selection Panel
- "Legal Elite of the Midlands" - Criminal Law
- Recipient, National Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) award for Regional OCDETF Case of the Year (2009, 2012)
- Recipient, Southeastern OCDETF Regional Coordinators' Award (2004, 2007)
- Recipient, EOUSA Director's Award for Superior Performance in Management
- Certified Legal Lean Sigma® and Project Management Yellow Belt
Since 1996, Mark has served as an instructor, lecturer and working group member for the Office of Legal Education at the NAC in both Washington and Columbia. Mark also conducted extensive training for federal and state law enforcement agents on the rules related to criminal discovery in the federal courts and has spoken at court-sponsored seminars on the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Samples of Mark's seminars and training include:
- Conducted regular training for banking executives and officials on the Bank Secrecy Act, Suspicious Activity Reports and anti-money laundering compliance.
- Speaker at the North American Securities Administrators Association’s 2013 conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, speaking to state and provincial securities officials from the United States and Canada about legal issues related to the interception of electronic communications.
- Presented "False Claims Act Cases: Laboratories" at the South Carolina Bar Association's False Claims Act/Qui Tam Whistleblower Litigation Involving Health Care Providers CLE, April 2018.
- Taught a CLE on The Essentials to Know for White Collar Criminal Defense on March 12, 2019 as part of Maynard Nexsen's Litigation CLE series.
- 08.17.2021 | News from Maynard Nexsen
- 06.05.2023 | Article
- 05.19.2023 | Article
- State Bar: South Carolina
- U. S. Court of Appeals: Fourth Circuit
- U. S. District Court: South Carolina