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James P. Melendres

James P. Melendres

Partner| Phoenix|Orange County


James Melendres co-chairs the Investigations, Government Enforcement and White Collar Protection practice and the Cybersecurity, Data Protection and Privacy practice. He regularly conducts internal investigations and represents companies in a wide variety of matters relating to federal and state criminal, civil and regulatory enforcement. James also advises companies regarding the full life cycle of enterprise risks associated with cybersecurity, including before, during and after a data breach or other cyber-attack.

James further assists clients in developing and implementing crisis management and public relations strategies. He has appeared on CBS, CNBC and MSNBC and been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, among other publications.

Prior to joining Snell & Wilmer, James served as a federal prosecutor and led high-profile and complex matters, including the prosecutions of former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus and the leader of the Tijuana Cartel, Benjamin Arellano-Felix. He also served in the leadership offices at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General.

  • Conducted internal investigation and defended company in parallel investigations by Inter-American Development Bank and Department of Justice Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit
  • Conducted internal investigation for company regarding civil and criminal False Claim Act allegations
  • Conducted internal investigation and represented company in matter involving Arizona Department of Education
  • Conducted internal investigation for charter school management company regarding misappropriation of public funds allegations
  • Conducted internal investigation for charter school management organization regarding fraud allegations
  • Conducting internal investigation and defending company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah regarding criminal worksite enforcement allegations
  • Defended company in prosecution by U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado for unlawful work activity on federal lands
  • Defended company in investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding fraud allegations
  • Represented public company in prosecution by U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York regarding indictment charging individuals with fraud and kickback scheme
  • Represented public company in prosecution by U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida regarding indictment charging individual with obstruction of justice and material support for terrorism
  • Represented non-profit organization in prosecution by Department of Justice Fraud Section regarding indictment charging individuals with fraud, money laundering, and false statements
  • Represented venture capital firm in investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding material misstatement allegations
  • Representing company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern District of Florida regarding indictment charging individuals with health care fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering
  • Representing company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern District of Illinois regarding money laundering allegations
  • Representing company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of Illinois regarding Lacey Act allegations
  • Defended individual in parallel investigations by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Missouri and Securities and Exchange regarding fraud allegations
  • Defended individual in prosecution by U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Arizona regarding mortgage fraud and bank fraud charges
  • Defending charter school company board members in audit conducted by Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team
  • Defending individual in investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding insider trading allegations
  • Representing physician in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central District of California and Department of Justice Civil Fraud Section regarding False Claim Act and anti-kickback allegations
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries regarding best practices for implementing policies to respond to government subpoenas and requests for information
  • Defended brokers in parallel investigations by the New York State Attorney General and the SEC concerning mutual fund late trading and market timing
  • Represented natural resources company in Business Email Compromise cyber-attack resulting in fraudulent transfer of millions of dollars to banks in more than twenty jurisdictions around the world
  • Represented life sciences company in data breach impacting customers in all 50 states
  • Representing civic organization in data breach impacting customer in 26 states
  • Represented public company in data breach investigation
  • Represented company in data security investigation involving HIPAA notification
  • Represented companies in multiple industries in responding to cyber incidents involving ransomware and cyber extortion attacks resulting in exposure of sensitive information
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries on cybersecurity risk management, information security program design and implementation, and cyber incident response planning
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries on international data transfer issues, including EU – U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield compliance

In his Investigations, Government Enforcement and White Collar Protection practice, James’s prosecutorial background and experience puts him in a strong position to represent companies and individuals in a wide variety of matters relating to federal and state criminal and regulatory enforcement, including federal and state securities laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), anti-money laundering (AML), federal procurement, public corruption and U.S. sanctions and export control regimes. He has significant experience investigating complex financial fraud cases and leading internal investigations.

At the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California, James investigated and prosecuted numerous sophisticated financial crimes including bank fraud, tax fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, false statements and money laundering as well as foreign corruption and bribery, obstruction of justice, aggravated identity theft, racketeering and international organized crime. He has also led federal investigations involving securities fraud and coordinated parallel proceedings with the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulatory agencies. James is a highly accomplished trial lawyer, having tried to verdict a dozen federal jury trials. He is also an experienced appellate lawyer and has litigated 16 matters before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

James was twice appointed by the Attorney General of the United States to serve as a Special Attorney prosecuting and investigating recusal matters in the Central District of California.

James is a leader in the American Bar Association's Business Law Section and currently serves as chair of the Criminal and Enforcement Litigation Subcommittee of the Business and Corporate Litigation Committee.

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  • Conducted internal investigation and defended company in parallel investigations by Inter-American Development Bank and Department of Justice Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit
  • Conducted internal investigation for company regarding civil and criminal False Claim Act allegations
  • Conducted internal investigation and represented company in matter involving Arizona Department of Education
  • Conducted internal investigation for charter school management company regarding misappropriation of public funds allegations
  • Conducted internal investigation for charter school management organization regarding fraud allegations
  • Conducting internal investigation and defending company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah regarding criminal worksite enforcement allegations
  • Defended company in prosecution by U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Colorado for unlawful work activity on federal lands
  • Defended company in investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding fraud allegations
  • Represented public company in prosecution by U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York regarding indictment charging individuals with fraud and kickback scheme
  • Represented public company in prosecution by U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Florida regarding indictment charging individual with obstruction of justice and material support for terrorism
  • Represented non-profit organization in prosecution by Department of Justice Fraud Section regarding indictment charging individuals with fraud, money laundering, and false statements
  • Represented venture capital firm in investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding material misstatement allegations
  • Representing company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern District of Florida regarding indictment charging individuals with health care fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering
  • Representing company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern District of Illinois regarding money laundering allegations
  • Representing company in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Southern District of Illinois regarding Lacey Act allegations
  • Defended individual in parallel investigations by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Missouri and Securities and Exchange regarding fraud allegations
  • Defended individual in prosecution by U.S. Attorney’s Office for District of Arizona regarding mortgage fraud and bank fraud charges
  • Defending charter school company board members in audit conducted by Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team
  • Defending individual in investigation by Securities and Exchange Commission regarding insider trading allegations
  • Representing physician in investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office for Central District of California and Department of Justice Civil Fraud Section regarding False Claim Act and anti-kickback allegations
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries regarding best practices for implementing policies to respond to government subpoenas and requests for information
  • Defended brokers in parallel investigations by the New York State Attorney General and the SEC concerning mutual fund late trading and market timing
  • Represented natural resources company in Business Email Compromise cyber-attack resulting in fraudulent transfer of millions of dollars to banks in more than twenty jurisdictions around the world
  • Represented life sciences company in data breach impacting customers in all 50 states
  • Representing civic organization in data breach impacting customer in 26 states
  • Represented public company in data breach investigation
  • Represented company in data security investigation involving HIPAA notification
  • Represented companies in multiple industries in responding to cyber incidents involving ransomware and cyber extortion attacks resulting in exposure of sensitive information
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries on cybersecurity risk management, information security program design and implementation, and cyber incident response planning
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries on international data transfer issues, including EU – U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield compliance

In his cybersecurity practice, James leverages his substantial prosecutorial background and experience with data security and cybercrime matters to help clients across a spectrum of industries manage cybersecurity risks and respond to cyber-attacks. His experience positions him well to protect companies both before and after a data breach, including conducting pre-breach security and privacy assessments, leading tabletop exercises and breach simulations, coordinating crisis management and incident response, advising on breach notification, and defending companies in breach-related litigation and regulatory proceedings. He has unique experience for advising companies about post-attack regulatory enforcement actions and private litigation. Additionally, James’ experience makes him very valuable to companies responding to government demands for information about their customers and subscribers pursuant to a variety of electronic surveillance statutes, and gives him a wealth of knowledge for advising emerging virtual currency companies regarding anti-money laundering (AML) requirements and other regulatory compliance obligations.

During his tenure at the Department of Justice, James advised the Assistant Attorney General on legal and policy issues involving cyber matters, including sophisticated network intrusions, corporate breaches, digital espionage, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against critical infrastructure, cyber extortion, and ransomware threats. Additionally, he served as the Justice Department's representative to the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), a multi-agency fusion center that serves as the national focal point for integrating and sharing information related to all domestic cyber threat investigations. James also led multiple large-scale cyber investigations involving the distribution of sophisticated malware and the subsequent exfiltration of proprietary business information from corporate victims.

James currently serves as an advisor to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws Study Committee on Data Breach Notification.

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  • Represented natural resources company in Business Email Compromise cyber-attack resulting in fraudulent transfer of millions of dollars to banks in more than twenty jurisdictions around the world.
  • Represented life sciences company in data breach impacting customers in all 50 states.
  • Representing civic organization in data breach impacting customer in 26 states.
  • Represented public company in data breach investigation.
  • Represented company in data security investigation involving HIPAA notification.
  • Represented companies in multiple industries in responding to cyber incidents involving ransomware and cyber extortion attacks resulting in exposure of sensitive information.
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries on cybersecurity risk management, information security program design and implementation, and cyber incident response planning.
  • Counseled companies in multiple industries on international data transfer issues, including EU – U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield compliance.
  • Stanford Law School (J.D., 2003)
  • Dartmouth College (A.B., cum laude, with high honors, 2000)
  • American Bar Association, Criminal & Enforcement Litigation Subcommittee, Chair (2016-present)
  • Stanford Law School Phoenix Regional Chapter, Co-Chair (2016-present)
  • Arizona Supreme Court Task Force on Court Management of Digital Evidence, Member (2016 – 2018)
  • Hispanic National Bar Association
  • Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association

Selected Media Coverage

Publications

Speaking Engagements

  • "The Revised Yates Memo: Individual Accountability in Federal Investigations and Enforcement," Presenter, Arizona Society of Healthcare Attorneys (December 11, 2018)
  • “Law of Leaks,” Panelist, 2018 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, Anaheim, CA (July 24, 2018)
  • “Workforce / Management Risks & Strategies,” 2018 Arizona Cybersecurity Summit (May 3, 2018)
  • "Data Breach Response:  Preserving the Privilege,” SCCE Scottsdale Regional Compliance & Ethics Conference, Scottsdale, AZ (April 13, 2018)
  • “Cybersecurity and the Obligations of Companies: An Ethical Perspective,” ABA, Section of Litigation, Corporate Counsel Seminar, La Quinta, CA (February 16, 2018)
  •  "Cybersecurity and Data Protection Guidance for Law Firms: Protecting Your Clients' Crown Jewels in the Age of the Internet," ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL (September 14, 2017)
  • "Cybersecurity Preparedness: Building a Legal Firewall to Prepare for the Inevitable," Utah State Bar Convention, Sun Valley, ID (July 27, 2017) 
  • "Domestic Cybersecurity Issues," 5th Annual Governance of Emerging Technologies Conference, Phoenix, AZ (May 19, 2017)
  • "Security Breaches: Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls," Association of Corporate Counsel - Arizona Chapter, Phoenix, AZ (April 18, 2017)
  • "Strategies for Communicating with DOJ," SCCE Regional Compliance and Ethics Counsel Conference, Scottsdale, AZ (April 7, 2017)
  • "Cybersecurity: What Life Sciences Companies Need to Know to Defend Themselves Against the Inevitable," Co-Presenter, Medmarc Loss Control Webinar Series (June 29, 2016)
  • "National Security-Related Cybersecurity Challenges and Solutions," Atlantic Council – Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, Washington, D.C. (March 11, 2016)
  • "Information Sharing Under the EU-US Privacy Shield," National Cyber-Forensics Training Alliance, San Diego, CA (March 4, 2016)
  • "Cybersecurity, Data Protection and Privacy Committee Panel," American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, Washington, D.C. (February 23, 2016)
  • "The Current Cyber Threat Landscape," Speaker, National Security Cyber Specialists Network 2015 Conference, Tysons Corner, VA (October 21, 2015)

Speaking Engagements

  • "Internal Investigations: Overview and Current Developments," Last Chance CLE Opportunity - Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, AZ (June 7, 2017)
  • "Strategies for Communicating with DOJ," SCCE Regional Compliance and Ethics Counsel Conference, Scottsdale, AZ (April 7, 2017)
  • "Internal Investigations: Overview and Current Developments," Co-Presenter, Employment Law Tool Kit Seminar, Snell & Wilmer, Costa Mesa, CA (November 16, 2016)
  • "Investigating and Prosecuting Leak and Cyber Intrusion Cases," Speaker, Columbia Law School: Federal Government in D.C. Seminar, Washington, D.C. (October 20, 2015)
  • "Federal Trial Practice Fundamentals," Speaker, Columbia Law School: Federal Government in D.C. Seminar, Washington, D.C. (October 6, 2014)
  • "Principles of Federal Investigation and Prosecution," U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Legal Policy, Washington, D.C. (September 4, 2014)  

Selected Media Coverage

Speaking Engagements

  • “Law of Leaks,” Panelist, 2018 Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, Anaheim, CA (July 24, 2018)
  • “Workforce / Management Risks & Strategies,” 2018 Arizona Cybersecurity Summit (May 3, 2018)
  • "Data Breach Response:  Preserving the Privilege,” SCCE Scottsdale Regional Compliance & Ethics Conference, Scottsdale, AZ (April 13, 2018)
  • “Cybersecurity and the Obligations of Companies: An Ethical Perspective,” ABA, Section of Litigation, Corporate Counsel Seminar, La Quinta, CA (February 16, 2018)
  • "Cybersecurity and Data Protection Guidance for Law Firms: Protecting Your Clients' Crown Jewels in the Age of the Internet," ABA Business Law Section Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL (September 14, 2017)
  • "Cybersecurity Preparedness: Building a Legal Firewall to Prepare for the Inevitable," Utah State Bar Convention, Sun Valley, ID (July 27, 2017)
  • "Cybersecurity Horror Stories," Last Chance CLE Opportunity - Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, AZ (June 7, 2017)
  • "Domestic Cybersecurity Issues," 5th Annual Governance of Emerging Technologies Conference, Phoenix, AZ (May 19, 2017)
  • "Security Breaches: Avoiding Ethical Pitfalls," Association of Corporate Counsel - Arizona Chapter, Phoenix, AZ (April 18, 2017)
  • "Cybersecurity Preparedness: Building a Firewall to Defend Against the Inevitable - Yahoo!, Verizon and the DNC," Corporate Counsel Forum, Dove Mountain, AZ (March 24, 2017)
  • "Cybersecurity Preparedness: Building a Legal Firewall to Defend Against the Inevitable," Co-Presenter, Snell & Wilmer and Thomson Reuters Harbor Cruise CLE, Newport Beach, CA (October 13, 2016)
  • "Cybersecurity: What Life Sciences Companies Need to Know to Defend Themselves Against the Inevitable," Co-Presenter, Medmarc Loss Control Webinar Series (June 29, 2016)
  • "National Security-Related Cybersecurity Challenges and Solutions," Atlantic Council - Cyber 9/12 Student Challenge, Washington, D.C. (March 11, 2016)
  • "Information Sharing Under the EU-US Privacy Shield," National Cyber-Forensics Training Alliance, San Diego, CA (March 4, 2016)
  • "Cybersecurity, Data Protection and Privacy Committee Panel," American Bar Association, Public Contract Law Section, Washington, D.C. (February 23, 2016)
  • "The Current Cyber Threat Landscape," Speaker, National Security Cyber Specialists Network 2015 Conference, Tysons Corner, VA (October 21, 2015)

Selected Media Coverage

Publications

 

  • The Best Lawyers in America®, Criminal Defense: White Collar (2019)
  • United States Department of Justice, National Security Division, Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General (2016)
  • National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force, Department of Justice Representative (2015-2016)
  • United States Department of Justice, National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Trial Attorney (2014-2016)
  • United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, Assistant United States Attorney (2007-2014)
  • United States District Court, District of New Mexico, Law Clerk to Hon. Bruce Black (2006-2007)
  • LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP, New York, New York (2003-2006)
  • Arizona
  • California
  • New York
  • Supreme Court of Arizona
  • Supreme Court of California
  • Supreme Court of New York
  • United States District Court, Central District of California
  • United States District Court, Southern District of California
  • United States District Court, Western District of North Carolina
  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit