With extensive knowledge of the federal system, Robert E. Dugdale is widely recognized as one of the region’s best trial lawyers. He has been the lead attorney or associate counsel on more than 25 trials and has successfully argued in excess of 20 cases before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Named one of California’s Top 100 Lawyers by the state’s leading legal publication, The Daily Journal, Mr. Dugdale has successfully represented numerous celebrity clients and business leaders in criminal matters and investigations leading to no charges and no publicity about those investigations. As a former federal prosecutor who specializes in criminal and civil government investigations and litigation, internal investigations, and civil fraud investigations, Mr. Dugdale has successfully represented individuals facing criminal investigations for mail and wire fraud, bribery, racketeering offenses, civil rights violations, money laundering, and currency smuggling, as well as corporate clients and individuals facing False Claims Act lawsuits and qui tam matters, investigations related to government contracts and grants, subpoenas and civil investigative demands, whistleblower claims, and parallel criminal and civil investigations.
Mr. Dugdale’s extensive experience in the public sector has also made him a lawyer who public entities frequently seek assistance from as outside counsel to help address their legal problems, and, in this vein, Mr. Dugdale has been retained by cities, counties, state agencies, and even countries to defend and consult on civil rights cases, to oversee compliance with consent decrees, to provide advice regarding conflicts with state and federal law, and to assist in repatriating money looted by kleptocrats.
A diligent and determined advocate for his clients, Mr. Dugdale has also represented businesses and individuals in complex civil litigation involving disputes alleging contractual breaches, financial wrongdoing, civil RICO allegations, breaches of fiduciary duties, the misappropriation of trade secrets, computer crimes, and breaches of privacy.
Before joining Kendall Brill & Kelly, Mr. Dugdale served more than 19 years as a trial attorney and supervisor of some of the most significant cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Central District of California. He was the Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for Trials, Integrity, and Professionalism and, prior to that, he was the Chief of the Criminal Division, a position in which he oversaw the work of approximately 200 federal prosecutors in the second largest U.S. Attorney’s Office in the nation.
Mr. Dugdale also received numerous accolades as a federal prosecutor, including being named “California Lawyer of the Year” by California Lawyer magazine and receiving the Attorney General’s Award, the highest honor given to a Department of Justice Employee.
University of Southern California Gould School of Law, J.D., 1993
Northwestern University, B.A., Economics, 1990
Criminal Defense and Investigations, Internal Investigations, and Qui Tam Litigation
- Obtained the dismissal of a $20 million qui tam action alleging that a national construction company had engaged in bid-rigging, had improperly obtained projects from the federal government through programs designed to benefit small minority businesses, and had falsified costs associated with its projects.
- Obtained the declination of criminal charges against a former Navy captain following a five-year investigation into allegations that the client oversaw government contractors who overbilled the United States Air Force by inflating the hours they worked to support a drone program located at a Middle East air base.
- Obtained the declination of criminal charges against the former President of a prominent Southern California card club targeted for alleged money laundering and currency reporting violations.
- Obtained the declination of criminal charges against a prominent public official investigated by the FBI for honest services fraud.
- Represented the subject of a federal investigation questioned by the Drug Enforcement Administration in connection with the death of the late pop star Prince. No charges were filed against the client.
- Obtained the diversion and eventual dismissal of charges against a Southern California businessman charged with federal money laundering and currency reporting offenses.
- Represented the chief financial officer and the chief compliance officer of a global supplier of used computer network equipment in connection with their successful efforts to convince the Department of Justice that his company had complied with the requirements of a deferred prosecution agreement, and thus should not face criminal charges for its alleged involvement in a discount fraud scheme.
- Advocated to the Department of Justice on behalf of the government of Malaysia for the return of billions of dollars misappropriated by former Malaysian officials and their associates as part of the largest kleptocracy case ever pursued by the United States government.
- Provided legal advice to government entities and businesses in California regarding the implementation of Proposition 64 and navigating the conflicts between California’s Adult Use and Marijuana Act and federal drug laws.
Complex Civil Litigation and Trials
- Representing the County of Los Angeles and the L.A. County Sheriff in connection with a high-profile and long-running civil rights case; ensuring compliance with a consent decree governing the operations of the Los Angeles County Jail system.
- Representing prominent American attorney David Boies and his law firm in connection with claims brought by actress Rose McGowan concerning Boies’ representation of Harvey Weinstein.
- Represented a large business management firm in litigation that led to the bank with the firm’s accounts repaying a portion of funds stolen from the firm by an executive.
- Representing the estate of the late world-renowned singer and songwriter Jenni Rivera in a $10 million lawsuit over the violations of a non-disclosure agreement by Ms. Rivera’s former business manager.
- Representing a digital media company in a lawsuit brought against the company’s former CEO alleging the misappropriation of millions of dollars from the company and the misappropriation of the company’s trade secrets.
- Successfully resolved civil rights claims brought against a police officer falsely accused of sexual assault.
- Obtained the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against an online magazine and its President alleging civil RICO claims.
- Represented the former CEO and founder of a Los Angeles-based talent and literary agency in legal proceedings that led to the recovery of money that had been stolen by one of the corporate officers of the agency he led.
- Represented Pabst Brewing Company in a lawsuit centered on whether the rapper Snoop Dogg was entitled to claim a portion of the proceeds from a stock-sale transaction in which a private equity group acquired all of the stock of Pabst’s parent company. The case was settled.
- Served as a member of a litigation team that secured a victory for the Hammer Museum in litigation that was brought by the niece of the late wife of oil tycoon Armand Hammer. She had alleged that she was the rightful heir to $400 million of his fortune, including a sizable share of the art housed in the UCLA-managed museum bearing Hammer’s name. The judge granted summary judgment in favor of the museum.
- Wrote the successful pleadings on behalf of the National Basketball Association that led to the dismissal of a lawsuit in which the plaintiff contended that rights she retained from the NBA Players Association entitled her to compensation for the use of animated NBA players’ likenesses in several popular video games licensed by the NBA.
- Supervised the prosecution of a group of Chinese operatives who hacked into computer systems that belonged to Boeing and various other defense contractors for the purpose of stealing sensitive military technology and other trade secrets.
- Supervised the investigation of the 2014 computer intrusion into Sony Pictures Entertainment, which President Obama attributed to the North Korean government. As a result of the work Mr. Dugdale oversaw during this investigation, the President increased and initiated new sanctions against North Korea.
International Money Laundering
- Led operations that targeted trade-based money laundering that occurred in the downtown Los Angeles Fashion District that garnered nationwide attention and led to the seizure of over $150 million in criminal proceeds and some of the largest seizures of bulk cash in the history of American law enforcement.
- Supervised the successful prosecution of a former high-ranking KPMG executive for insider trading. The executive admitted that in exchange for cash and gifts he had passed along sensitive information about the accounting firm’s clients to a friend, whose subsequent trading on inside information related to those clients had netted him over $1.27 million in illegal profits. This executive was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
- Supervised the successful prosecution of 19 former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department convicted of various civil rights and corruption offenses in one of the largest cases targeting wrongdoing in a law enforcement agency brought in the Central District of California’s history. Among those prosecuted as a result of this investigation were former Los Angeles County Sheriff Leroy Baca and former Los Angeles County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, who was formerly the second-highest ranking member of the Sheriff’s Department. Along with eight other deputies of various ranks, both Baca and Tanaka were convicted of obstruction of justice for engineering a conspiracy that unsuccessfully tried to thwart an FBI investigation into inmate abuse and corruption within the Los Angeles County Jail system. In addition, nine other deputies were convicted of charges related to the illegal use of force within the Los Angeles County Jail system, offenses related to the possession of illegal firearms, and bribery offenses.
Protecting Victims of Violent Crime
- Oversaw an aggressive violence-reduction program that targeted organized criminal groups that were operating on a regional, national, and international level and routinely engaged in acts of violence and financial crimes on a massive scale. Under Mr. Dugdale’s leadership and, in many cases, his direct involvement as trial counsel, the U.S. Attorney’s Office brought significant cases against the Mexican Mafia, the Sinaloa Cartel, the Aryan Brotherhood, the Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, and a number of other transnational criminal enterprises. Crimes by such groups noticeably diminished as a result of these prosecutions, and during the eight year period that Mr. Dugdale served as the Chief of the Violent Crime Section and the Chief of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, incidents of violent crime in the Central District of California fell for eight consecutive years and eventually reached the lowest numbers seen in the district in decades.
- Supervised the successful investigation and trial of more than 90 defendants in the largest organized crime prosecution that targeted Eurasian criminal enterprise brought in the history of the DOJ. This prosecution targeted the Armenian Power enterprise, a violent and sophisticated organized crime group responsible for numerous acts of violence and schemes that defrauded tens of thousands of victims out of tens of millions of dollars. The defendants were convicted of or pleaded guilty to extortion, kidnapping, racketeering, bank fraud, obstruction of justice, and other charges that netted sentences that exceeded 25 years or more against the leaders of this organization.
- Served as lead counsel on a case that involved members of a Russian kidnapping-murder ring that abducted and brutally murdered five LA residents in the six months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The eight-month trial featured the testimony of 135 witnesses called by the government and the introduction of over 4,000 exhibits. The jury concluded that the two defendants on trial should receive the death penalty, the first federal death penalty verdicts returned by a jury in the Central District of California in over 60 years.
- Managed dozens of successful prosecutions targeting large, well-entrenched street gangs that were involved in all manners of serious crime that qualified as federal offenses, including drug trafficking, fraud, the sexual exploitation of children, firearms trafficking, bank robberies, kidnappings, and murder.
- Created and implemented an anti-gang program throughout the Central District of California that decimated dozens of street gangs through large-scale Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) Act prosecutions. This program has been credited with contributing to radical declines in gang-related crime over the past eight years in the Central District of California and has become a model that the DOJ urged other U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the nation to emulate.
- Coordinated the efforts of the Southern California Regional Sexual Assault and Exploitation Felony Enforcement (SAFE) Team, a multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional task force that is dedicated to the investigation, apprehension, and prosecution of those engaged in offenses that involve the sexual abuse of children, child prostitution, and child pornography, with a special emphasis on sexual predators and large-scale distributors of child pornography over the Internet.
- Daily Journal, Top 100 Lawyers in California, 2016
- California Lawyer, California Lawyer Attorney of the Year (CLAY) Award, 2008
- The Best Lawyers in America, Criminal Defense: White-Collar, 2021
- Two U.S. Department of Justice Director’s Awards, 2007 and 2015
The second highest honor awarded to a Department of Justice employee
- Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrator’s Award, 2002
- U.S. Attorney General’s Award, 2000
The highest honor awarded to a Department of Justice employee
- Board Member, Federal Bar Association, Los Angeles Chapter, 2018–Present
- U.S. Attorney General’s Capital Case Review Committee, member, 2008–2012
- U.S. Attorney General Criminal Chiefs Working Group, Ninth Circuit’s Representative, 2014–2015
- National Advocacy Center (NAC): Mr. Dugdale has served on a number of occasions as a lecturer on trial advocacy issues at the National Advocacy Center, which is the primary training facility utilized by the DOJ to train federal prosecutors nationwide.
- Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC): Mr. Dugdale traveled to several foreign countries, including several emerging democracies that are engaged in reforming their criminal justice systems, on behalf of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center to provide training to judges and prosecutors on the workings of the American criminal justice system and on issues that arise during complex criminal prosecutions.
- Served as an Adjunct Professor teaching Trial Advocacy at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law since 2014.
- U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, 1997–2016
Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney for Trials, Integrity, and Professionalism; Chief of the Criminal Division; Chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Section; Deputy Chief of the Organized Crime and Terrorism Section; Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section
- Skadden Arps, Slate, Meagher, and Flom LLP, 1992–1997
Litigation Associate, Law Clerk
- U.S. District Courts
Central and Northern Districts of California
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit