Anthony J. “Tony” Phillips is a Principal in McKool Smith’s Houston and Washington, D.C. offices, where he is part of the White Collar Defense and Investigations practice.
Tony is a rare find: a former corruption prosecutor and Washington, DC-trained white collar defense attorney living and working in Houston, Texas. Tony has an incredible breadth of experience: from convincing juries and judges in federal, military, and state courthouses to advising corporations, boards, and business executives in a variety of highly regulated industries, such as energy, financial services, and healthcare. Tony’s unique training and background give him a thorough understanding of the particular interests of the various stakeholders involved in civil, criminal, and regulatory enforcement actions and make him well suited to help clients prepare for commercial litigation during investigations. In addition to his record of successful outcomes, Tony’s clients value his commitment to client service, his reputation for integrity, and the business-focused risk management insight he brings to their critically important legal challenges.
Tony was a student at Harvard Law School during the 9/11 attacks and consequently volunteered for military service. While completing his law degree, Tony also earned an Air Force ROTC commission at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, going on to a distinguished career as an Air Force JAG officer (a military lawyer). During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Tony deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, as part of the Law and Order Task Force, a multi-national, joint civilian and military capacity-building effort. For his work leading major crimes investigations across Iraq and helping to modernize the Iraqi criminal justice system, Tony earned the Defense Meritorious Service Medal—the third-highest award bestowed on service members by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Tony’s practice now focuses on investigations and enforcement actions relating to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law, and other white collar criminal matters (e.g., fraud, obstruction, bribery, conspiracy, etc.). Tony has counseled clients across a variety of industries under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), the U.S. Securities and Exchange commission (“SEC”), and other federal, state, and local enforcement agencies. Tony draws on both his law firm and in-house experiences to help companies successfully navigate complex compliance matters from cradle to grave: evaluation and development of strong, effective compliance programs; responding to subpoenas, inquiries, and other interactions with the government; swift and efficient investigations, due diligence, and other fact-finding processes; and compliance program improvements and misconduct remediation.
In addition to his investigations work, Tony maintains an active litigation and arbitration practice. Tony advises clients across industries in commercial matters ranging from engineering, procurement, and construction (“EPC”) and commercial development issues to trade secret, non-compete, and major contract disputes. Tony has produced outstanding outcomes for litigation clients through effective and efficient discovery and preparation, creative business solutions, and a guiding focus on integrity and hard work.
Tony graduated Phi Beta Kappa and with High Honors from Michigan State University. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was Co-Managing Editor of the BlackLetter Law Journal. Tony is licensed to practice in Washington, D.C., New York, and Texas.
Tony is a member of the NationSwell Council, a nation-wide membership community of service-minded leaders. An Eagle Scout, he serves as a Board Member of the Sam Houston Area Council (“SHAC”)/Boy Scouts of America and of the Lone Star Veterans Association. Additionally, Tony is a member of the American Bar Association, National Bar Association and Houston Bar Association.
Tony is a former federal prosecutor whose practice focuses on corporate internal investigations, the defense of criminal and civil government enforcement actions, and complex business disputes. Tony’s varied experience includes investigations and trial practice in both civil and criminal courts at both the state and federal levels, involving complex cases arising from the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), whistleblower allegations, health care fraud, Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, mail, wire, and honest services fraud, the False Claims Act (FCA), contract and procurement fraud, and other anti-corruption and anti-money laundering issues. Tony has represented energy companies, healthcare providers, financial institutions, and real estate development companies, among other clients, and has extensive experience handling internal investigations and grand jury matters.
Prior to joining the firm:
Investigations & White Collar Defense
- Represented as pool counsel multiple directors of a public company under investigation for FCPA violations.
- Represented plaintiff in civil RICO claim arising from failed sale of assets after refusal to pay bribe.
- Represented individual defendant post-guilty plea with cooperation and 5K negotiations with federal prosecutors.
- Investigated whistleblower allegations for global networking equipment manufacturer regarding alleged U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) violations in India - both bribery and books-and-records violations - and regarding alleged side agreement and misrepresentations to investors by senior executive.
- Investigated and recommended resolution of alleged misconduct and compliance failures among branch offices of nationwide health services company under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- Developed and successfully implemented a novel, five-phase investigation management process that ensured identification, discreet investigation, and appropriate remediation of significant ethics-related compliance matters arising for cancer hospital
with 30,000-member workforce.
- Investigated, attacked, and subverted corruption and other major felonies (e.g., sectarian murder, kidnapping and ransom, terrorism); served as leader of 8-person team of lawyers and criminal investigators.
Government Enforcement and Compliance
- Represented individual doctor in contract negotiation with hospital; provided Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute advice.
- Assisted company under criminal investigation by California Attorney General with response to oil spill.
- Advised landlord managing multi-unit dwellings nationwide regarding environmental compliance obligations and overall compliance program improvement.
- Assisted community bank with response to Civil Investigative Demand issued by U.S. Department of Justice Fraud Section.
- Assisted with overhaul of healthcare compliance program for nationwide health services company under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, resulting in DPA and CIA in lieu of prosecution.
- Assisted with due diligence review for global trip management company considering a joint venture in North Africa, including FCPA, UK Bribery Act, and other anti-corruption compliance advice.
- Provided counsel to Chinese company regarding U.S. Bank Secrecy Act requirements, including strategic advice regarding negotiating agreements in partnership with U.S. banks.
- Restructured and facilitated an institutional committee comprised of high-level leaders charged with ensuring that ethical principals and considerations were appropriately considered by world-leading cancer hospital at all levels of institutional
- Served as liaison to Central Criminal Court of Iraq-Rusafa, negotiating criminal and human rights cooperation between the Iraqi government and U.S. military coalition during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- Advised military commanders on civil and criminal aspects of military law and regulations, providing strategic advice regarding options between criminal prosecution and administrative action.
- Representing owner in multi-million dollar construction dispute with general contractor arising from breach of EPC agreement and default in construction of power plant.
- Defended company and its newly hired Chief Executive Officer against alleged theft of trade secrets and breach of non-compete obligations.
- Prepared and represented third-party witness in multi-party commercial dispute.
- Advised new business owner regarding potential tortious interference, non-compete, and trade secret liability.
- Represented owner in construction dispute with general contractor to successfully avoid joinder of subcontractors in binding arbitration.
- Represented owner in business dissolution dispute with former partners.
- Represented investors alleging multi-million dollar fraud arising from sale of chemicals plant.
- Defended owner in construction dispute from contractor asserting six-figure fraudulent lien; matter ultimately settled with payment by contractor to owner.
- Defended real estate investment company and agent in dispute with former client; lawsuit voluntarily dismissed.
- Represented laboratory in dispute with former senior-level employee regarding payment of commissions post-termination.
- Defended apparel manufacturer in federal trademark dispute with mark holder; lawsuit voluntarily dismissed.
- Assisted physical therapy clinic with third-party subpoena response to insurance company alleging fraud.
- Represented individual in six-figure guaranty dispute with vendor of former employer; claim dropped without suit.
- Advised Global 500 oil and gas company in insurance coverage dispute following catastrophic blowout and oil spill; managed, coordinated, and supervised legal research efforts and document reviews.
- Assisted in representation of Global 500 pharmaceutical company in collaboration agreement dispute and dissolution, including through alternative dispute resolution and fast-paced temporary restraining order litigation.
- Developed novel defense theory preventing indictment of congressional staffer under DOJ investigation.
- Obtained habeas victory for foreign national from U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia; briefed and argued
appellate defense to U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia Circuit.
- Lead prosecutor in fraud and obstruction case of first impression, involving the training of federal law enforcement applicants in polygraph countermeasures; development and application of novel prosecution theory resulted in guilty plea and sentence of
incarceration; prosecution strategy replicated in second, unrelated case resulting in conviction and incarceration.
- Served as lead prosecutor in three-week jury trial in San Juan, Puerto Rico, arising from “Operation Guard Shack” – one of the largest police corruption cases in FBI history – that resulted in conviction of all three defendants; interviewed and prepared
government witnesses in Spanish with little translation assistance.
- Received commendation for “demonstrated excellence” from Director of Federal Bureau of Investigation for work as lead prosecutor in bribery, conspiracy, and illegal gambling prosecution that resulted in conviction of all six defendants.
Rankings & Honors
- Named among the Lawdragon 500 "Leading Lawyers in America", 2020
- Lawyers of Color, "Nation's Best", 2019
- FBI Commendation, awarded by FBI Director Robert Mueller, 2013
- Defense Meritorious Service Medal (Operation Iraqi Freedom), U.S. Department of Justice, 2008
- Robert L. Lowry Award of Excellence, U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School, 2005
Community & Professional Activities
- Board Member, Sam Houston Area Council, Boy Scouts of America
- Board Member, Lone Star Veterans Association
- American Bar Association
- National Bar Association
- Houston Bar Association
- NationSwell Council
Media & Events
- Tony Phillips Quoted in "GE Hit With New Investigations From SEC and Justice Department" Published by CNN Business10.31.2018
- Co-author, “Knowing The Unknown: Avoiding The Threat Of FCPA Successor Liability,” Westlaw Journal, White-Collar Crime, September 4, 2015.
J.D., Harvard Law School, 2004.
Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), Detachment 365, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Distinguished Graduate, Field Training Unit III, Ellsworth AFB, 2004.
B.A., Social Relations & Policy with High Honors & Phi Beta Kappa, Michigan State University, 1999.
- State of Texas
- State of New York
- U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
- American Bar Association
- National Bar Association
- State Bar of Texas
- New York State Bar Association
- The District of Columbia Bar
- Houston Bar Association