Government Experience

  • Department of Justice: United States Attorney's Office—Northern District of Illinois: Assistant United States Attorney, 1999-2002
  • National Labor Relations Board—Appellate Court Branch, 1997-1999


  • Cornell University, B.A. (1994)
  • New York University School of Law, J.D. (1997)


  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • New York
  • U.S. Supreme Court
  • U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit

Preston L. Pugh

+1.202.624.2669 (office)
+1.312.405.4216 (mobile)

"You're that outsider coming in... Not easy to do, but you did it well...." Remarks from the U.S. District Court in Chicago, reflecting on Preston’s role in a landmark compliance monitorship.

Preston Pugh is a partner at Crowell & Moring. He has extensive experience in conducting internal investigations and responding to government investigations, often stemming from high stakes whistleblower complaints, both domestic and international. He co-leads Crowell's False Claims Act Practice, its Whistleblower and Workplace Investigations working group, and its ESG Group. He provides a perspective from having served on both sides of the whistleblower bar: in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago; in-house, as senior counsel for global compliance investigations at a Fortune 10 company; a compliance monitor appointed multiple times; and, for many years, as outside defense counsel. His work in investigations has been recognized by the Legal 500.

Apart from compliance and governance, Preston is a first chair trial and appellate lawyer. A longtime member of the trial bar in the Northern District of Illinois, and a member of the bars of New York and Washington, D.C., he has successfully tried many cases to juries as lead counsel, and has argued several more appeals in the federal courts of appeals. He has served as a certified FINRA arbitrator, as a mediator in the DC courts, and as an advocate in mediation throughout the country. He has succeeded in two cases of first impression: one in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and another, as amicus counsel, in the Illinois Supreme Court.

Board service, contributing to the legal profession, and mentoring are important parts of Preston’s work. His nonprofit board service is extensive, dating back to 2002. He is currently a member of the ABA Criminal Justice Section Council, which advises federal and state legislators on criminal justice policy issues. He is an elected board member of Cornell University’s ILR Alumni Association. He is the vice chair of JusticeAid, based in D.C. and New York, and a member of the board of Cycling Without Age, based in Copenhagen. And, he is an active member of the National Association of Corporate Directors.


Professional Activities and Memberships

  • Co-Chair, Global Anti-Corruption Committee, American Bar Association
  • Co-Chair, Qui Tam Subcommittee, Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association
  • American Bar Association's Task Force on Corporate Monitors
  • Leadership Greater Chicago, Class of 2012
  • Former Member, Character and Fitness Committee, Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee
  • Former Chair, Labor and Employment Committee, Chicago Bar Association

Representative Matters

Whistleblower Investigations

  • Led Fortune 100 board-level investigation of misconduct alleged by an anonymous whistleblower focused on the company’s CEO and CHRO.
  • Led board-level investigation of Chief Actuary in publicly traded financial services company for alleged misconduct and violations of code of ethics.
  • Led investigation of alleged payment of kickbacks from transport companies to employees who managed large importer's supply chain operation.
  • Successfully defended a quasi-public entity in a grand jury investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, focused on allegations of conflicts and bid rigging by the entity’s CEO.
  • Led a team in the investigation of the chief of police for a large county authority, focused on more than ten years of workplace allegations of harassment, bullying and discrimination. Reported to and advised executive director of the county, and also county board of directors, regarding the same.
  • Led the successful defense of a large healthcare provider in a ten-month OSHA whistleblower investigation regarding allegations of noncompliance with OSHA safety reporting standards and the provision of N-95 masks.
  • Led an investigation of collective whistleblower concerns at a large nonprofit regarding racism, noncompliance with ADA standards, favoritism and bullying.
  • Part of a team that investigated whistleblower allegations of misconduct against the executive director of a large museum.
  • Led the internal investigation of a government contractor in the technology sector with respect to whistleblower concerns about the hiring of a third party in South America.
  • Jointly led the investigation into allegations by a whistleblower regarding accounting and internal governance/compliance issues of a $5B non-U.S. headquartered company and its U.S. subsidiary, reporting results to external auditor.
  • Conducted a nine-month internal investigation of a health care medical device company regarding allegations of kickbacks, off-label marketing, and other health care compliance issues.
  • Retained by a board of directors to investigate numerous code of conduct complaints against the CEO of a large hospital, including conflicts of interest and other allegations.
  • On behalf of a large corporation, investigated the company's Deputy Chief of Human Resources for numerous alleged code of conduct breaches.
  • Investigated senior transportation executive for allegedly rigging a hiring process for pilots seeking promotion.

Government Investigations and Compliance Counseling

  • Successfully defended a large healthcare provider joint venture, facing claims by HHS-OIG of overbilling by more than $22M. After considerable discussions with OIG, the government reversed its decision and decided against pressing any claims.
  • Led team that represented former DNC Consultant/Chair of DNC Ethnic Council in foreign assistance investigation by the U.S. Senate.
  • Led a top-to-bottom risk assessment of a global manufacturer in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, U.S., and Asia Pacific covering anti-corruption, third-party due diligence, cartels, government contracts, trade controls, and the use, availability, and structure of its whistleblower reporting channels.
  • Represented the second largest hospital in Wisconsin after the tragic onsite homicide of a nurse-practitioner. Led a team to conduct an internal investigation of the homicide and hospital security protocols. Advised the hospital regarding communications and discussions with internal and external stakeholders. Represented the hospital in associated extensive OSHA investigation, which resulted in no adverse findings against the hospital.
  • Jointly led the internal investigation of an airline in an industry-wide False Claims Act (FCA) and false statements investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The investigation was both domestic and global, took place over several years, and involved dozens of witnesses.
  • Defended FCA and criminal false statement allegations against a Division I university following a well-publicized 2013 dawn raid by 54 federal and state law enforcement agents. Advised university regarding crisis communications, discussions with law enforcement, internal and external stakeholders, and internal investigation of the issues. After several years, the DOJ closed the investigation with no charges filed.
  • Jointly led an independent investigation of alleged conduct by coaches on a Big Ten sports team, including highly publicized allegations by student-athletes of abuse, favoritism, and racism. Drafted public report issued to all university alumni.


  • Part of a team that successfully represented a large MCO in arbitration of claims against a pharmacy for fraud and breach of contract, resulting in a decision in excess of $122M.
  • Defended three executives of a large Wall Street financial institution in a nationally publicized trade secrets and non-solicitation lawsuit filed by the executives’ former employer/financial institution. The case was litigated in both the Illinois Chancery Court and FINRA.
  • Defended a bank accused of widespread racial discrimination against its customers. Arbitrated the case in 2018, showed allegations had no merit, and ultimately achieved a complete victory on the merits of the case.
  • Wrote the successful argument in one of the leading FCA implied certification qui tam cases in the Seventh Circuit, U.S. ex rel. Bragg v. SCR, part of the circuit split that led to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar.

Speeches & Presentations


Client Alerts & Newsletters

Press Coverage

Firm News & Announcements

January 13, 2022 The Institute for Well-Being in Law Kicks Off First Conference
December 1, 2021 Companies Are Setting Environmental Goals, But Questions of Measurement Persist, Crowell & Moring Survey Finds
November 11, 2021 Crowell & Moring Named to "GIR 100" for Seventh Consecutive Year
October 7, 2021 Preston Pugh Elected to the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section Council
March 5, 2021 Crowell & Moring Lawyers Engage with Corporate Officers at National Bar Association Commercial Law Section’s Annual Corporate Counsel Conference
August 3, 2020 Trusted Investigations Counsel and Court-Appointed Monitor Preston Pugh Joins Crowell & Moring