November 8, 2022

On November 4, Willkie secured a major victory in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York for client Thomas Barrack, founder of Colony Capital, in a highly publicized trial alleging illegal foreign lobbying, obstruction of justice and other charges against Barrack and his former assistant Matthew Grimes. After a seven-week jury trial before the Honorable Brian Cogan, a jury acquitted Barrack and Grimes, finding them not guilty on all charges.

In 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Barrack, the founder and former CEO and Executive Chairman of leading global investment firm Colony Capital, now known as DigitalBridge Group, with operating in the United States as an agent of the United Arab Emirates. The final, nine-count Superseding Indictment also charged Barrack with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and six counts of making false statements to federal investigators. The Justice Department billed the case as “putting everyone — regardless of their wealth or perceived political power — on notice that the Department of Justice will enforce the prohibition of this sort of undisclosed foreign influence.”

After a series of devastating cross-examinations of government witnesses, the Willkie team put on an extensive defense case, culminating with the multi-day testimony of Barrack. After less than two days of jury deliberation, the jury returned a verdict completely rejecting the government’s case, finding Barrack not guilty on all nine counts of the Superseding Indictment.

Barrack’s defense was led by Willkie partners and co-chairs of the Firm's White-Collar Defense Practice Group Michael Schachter and Randall Jackson, and partner Casey Donnelly, and included associates Steven Ballew, Jordan Reisch, Brianna Weaver and Kathryn Garrett.