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James A. Petkun

Partner | Litigation


James A. Petkun is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. An accomplished trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor, James concentrates his practice on white collar criminal matters, government investigations, and related complex litigation. James defends and protects individuals and institutions targeted by government authorities in federal and state courts across the country, conducts internal investigations on behalf of companies and organizations, and counsels corporations and corporate committees in responding to formal and informal government inquiries. James also represents clients in litigation arising under the federal False Claims Act, and in various healthcare matters involving claims of fraud and abuse.

James previously served for eight years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia, within the U.S. Department of Justice. During his appointment, James led the prosecution of complex matters involving corporate fraud, money laundering, cybercrime, bank fraud, mail/wire fraud, tax crimes, ID theft and RICO, as well as violent crimes and child exploitation offenses. James was lead trial counsel in over 60 trials, including over 25 jury trials, and led the investigation and prosecution of hundreds of matters.  He also briefed over a dozen appeals on behalf of the government, and argued five — two before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and three before the D.C. Court of Appeals.  In recognition of his service, James received formal commendation from the FBI Director, was nominated by DOJ for a Director's Award, and twice received DOJ Special Achievement Awards recognizing his trial and investigative work.

Prior to joining DOJ, James served as a law clerk to the Honorable Michael M. Baylson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and worked as a litigation associate at a large international law firm. A native of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, James received his B.B.A. from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, and his J.D., magna cum laude, from the Villanova University School of Law, where he served as a managing editor of the Villanova Law Review, was elected to the Order of the Coif, and received the school’s award for excellence in the study of criminal law.  



Villanova University School of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, Elected to Order of the Coif; Managing Editor, Villanova Law Review (2007)

Emory University, B.B.A. (2003)



U.S. Supreme Court

U.S. Court of Appeals – Third Circuit

U.S. Court of Appeals – District of Columbia Circuit

U.S. District Court – Eastern District of Pennsylvania

U.S. District Court – District of Columbia


Anti-Defamation League, Regional Advancement Team / Fellow, ADL Glass Leadership Institute

Barrister, University of Pennsylvania Law School American Inn of Court


Speeches and Publications

A Look at Legal Ethics Through the Lens of the Mueller Investigation 2019 White Collar Practice Seminar: Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL), November 22, 2019

As a federal prosecutor, James successfully handled numerous high-profile white collar criminal matters, including:

  • U.S. v. Hallinan – Guilty verdicts after 10-week jury trial in $500 million nationwide “payday lending” financial services fraud perpetrated by the “Godfather” of payday lending (as reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer), his Delaware corporate attorney, and a self-proclaimed Canadian Indian Chief, on counts including international money laundering and RICO;
  • U.S. v. Henderson – Guilty verdict after jury trial against former Philadelphia police officer running “dark-web” ID-theft conspiracy;
  • U.S. v. Cameron – Guilty verdict after jury trial against fraudulent attorney who operated sham nationwide immigration law practice, and defrauded hundreds of victims across the country and abroad;
  • U.S. v. Falkowski – Million-dollar kickback/embezzlement schemes operated by an executive at QVC, Inc., in partnership with the general counsel of a Hollywood PR agency, leading to convictions of both individuals;
  • $200 million offshore tax fraud conspiracy leading to guilty pleas by multiple individuals;
  • Vendor fraud and internal embezzlement at Bristol-Myers Squibb’s U.S. headquarters;
  • U.S. v. Intercept Corporation –  Corporate guilty plea by North Dakota-based ACH payment processor responsible for facilitating illegal money transmittals across the United States;
  • In re Google – Defeated Google in litigation involving Google’s refusal comply with federal search warrants under the Second Circuit’s Microsoft decision; case subsequently cited in Solicitor General’s brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in related appeal;
  • Conviction of manager of South Korean chemical company’s U.S. subsidiary on ID-theft and fraud charges.