John R. Mitchell
Co-Chair, Government Enforcement, Internal Investigations & White Collar Defense
John is the co-chair of the firm’s Government Enforcement, Internal Investigations & White Collar Defense practice group. He is an experienced first-chair trial lawyer who has defended companies and individuals in criminal, administrative and civil trials in state and federal courts throughout the United States.
John is most comfortable in the courtroom. He has extensive first-chair experience, having tried approximately 80 trials in his career. He knows how to talk to and select juries, present compelling opening and closing arguments and has examined or cross-examined almost every type of witness imaginable from governmental investigators to nationally-renowned expert witnesses.
John is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, whose membership is restricted to the top one percent of trial lawyers from each state, as unanimously recognized by their peers. He has been recognized for his abilities by The Best Lawyers in America®, The Legal 500, Chambers USA, and Benchmark Litigation. John has been repeatedly named an Ohio Super Lawyers® and repeatedly designated as one of Cleveland’s top 50 lawyers and as one of Ohio’s top 100 lawyers. He is also rated AV Preeminent® by his peers in Martindale-Hubbell.
As part of his criminal practice, John has handled virtually every type of white collar matter, including internal corporate investigations, public corruption cases, healthcare fraud matters, environmental investigations, SEC investigations, tax matters, corporate compliance initiatives, federal and state grand jury investigations and related administrative proceedings. He has successfully defended companies and company owners, directors, officers, senior management, physicians, architects, public officials and other professionals alleged to have violated federal and state laws in numerous criminal proceedings. Many of his greatest successes are also the least publicized, especially those that resolved highly sensitive matters without criminal charges or adverse publicity. John has also been approved to serve as a monitor by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Because of his trial experience, John has been tasked with defending a wide variety of civil matters, including product liability and personal injury cases, legal malpractice cases, real estate and construction litigation, workplace intentional tort matters, intellectual property disputes, breach of contract actions and other civil actions. He has been actively involved in industry-wide chemical and toxic tort litigation involving opioids, maritime asbestos, vinyl chloride, welding rods, lead paint, and other chemicals and products.
Prior to joining Thompson Hine, John served as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Cuyahoga County, Ohio under Prosecuting Attorneys Stephanie Tubbs Jones and William D. Mason. He ascended to the elite Major Trials Unit, where he first-chaired homicide, rape and public corruption cases and directed complex grand jury investigations of large institutions and individuals allegedly involved in criminal activity. His experience and track record led to his appointment as a special prosecutor in multiple high-profile homicide, public corruption and organized-crime cases.
John’s abilities are not limited to the courtroom, as he has briefed and prevailed in numerous appellate cases in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the multiple Ohio Appellate Districts.
RICO, Fraud, Bribery, Public Corruption, Theft, Money Laundering
- After a nine-day trial in federal court, won acquittal of a general manager of an international construction company charged with conspiracy, Hobbs Act violations and bribery-related violations of 18 U.S.C. § 666 arising from efforts to obtain a $26 million energy performance contract from a local housing authority. The client was the only person acquitted of all charges arising from involvement in the Cuyahoga County corruption scandal.
- Defended a national mortgage company charged with multimillion-dollar violations of Ohio’s RICO (Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity), theft, money laundering and record tampering statutes, resulting in dismissal of all state charges within 10 days of indictment.
- Defended a dentist charged with RICO conspiracy, Hobbs Act bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud and health care violations in a five-week trial in federal court.
- Defended notorious public corruption case, involving the six-week trial of a rare coin dealer charged with violation of Ohio’s RICO, theft, money laundering, record tampering and forgery statutes, stemming from the management of two rare coins partly funded by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (i.e., “Coingate” scandal).
- Defended an architect charged with conspiracy, Hobbs Act violations, mail fraud, and violations of 18 U.S.C. § 641 in a nine-day trial in federal court involving claims of bribery and theft of budgetary information from the VA.
- Secured declination letter from state prosecutors for prominent politician facing perjury charges.
- Secured pretrial dismissal of the federal wire fraud indictment of a nationally known hedge fund analyst charged with multimillion-dollar theft and embezzlement.
- Defended the highest-ranking, non-elected law enforcement official in Cuyahoga County, who was a target in a state investigation of election violations committed by a long-time elected county sheriff, resulting in no charges.
- Retained at sentencing phase and obtained a 20-level downward departure under federal sentencing guidelines (from a substantial sentence of incarceration to a 60-day sentence at a halfway house and probation) for an individual who pled guilty to federal money laundering conspiracy for misuse of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utility Service funds.
- Defended an individual involved in conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud involving misuse of corporate funds and secured a downward departure and obtained non-jail sentence.
- Defended prominent local politician in a federal bribery investigation and secured a plea to a one-count information charging obstruction of justice and secured a sentence of probation.
- Defended an individual involved in a federal money laundering conspiracy involving allegations of misuse of leased vehicles, securing a non-jail sentence.
- Defended a mechanical contracting company and its president in a federal bribery investigation arising from an award of United States Post Office construction contracts and obtained a downward departure from federal sentencing guidelines sentence of incarceration to a sentence of probation.
- Represented a multibillion-dollar retailer in an action to recover forfeited funds from a state prosecutor’s office and other governmental agencies.
- Represented a construction company in a criminal building code matter in Cleveland Municipal Court, securing dismissal of all charges.
- Represented an individual under investigation for state felony theft charges, resulting in no charges.
Representation of Professionals
- Represented former C-suite executive employed by a publicly traded company in a civil insider trading investigation and obtained a no-action letter for client.
- Represented lawyers at a prominent Midwestern law firm embroiled in securities fraud prosecution, resulting in no charges.
- Represented an attorney alleged to have participated in violations of Ohio’s RICO, Tampering with Evidence and Perjury statutes stemming from investigation into activities of public officials in Mahoning County (Youngstown), Ohio, resulting in no charges.
- Represented an attorney alleged to have participated in a bribery scheme related to a potential judicial appointment, resulting in no charges.
- Secured below-guidelines sentence for an accountant alleged to have participated in an $80 million tax fraud associated with a string of theme-based restaurants.
- Secured misdemeanor plea for prospective attorney facing weapons charges, enabling him to sit for the bar and be sworn into practice upon bar passage.
- Defended numerous physicians in investigations for alleged fraudulent billing schemes, resulting in no charges.
- Defended a chiropractor target allegedly involved in a large insurance fraud, resulting in no charges.
- Defended an internal medicine specialist in a federal wire fraud case related to theft from a global drugstore chain and obtained a downward variance from sentence of incarceration to probation.
- Secured dismissal of a federal indictment for conspiracy and Clean Water Act (CWA) violations against the chief engineer of a Great Lakes tug one week prior to commencement of trial.
- Defended a plating company and its president against federal CWA charges for illegal discharges of hazardous materials and obtained a downward departure from sentence of incarceration to probation.
- Secured avoidance of criminal charges against the general manager of a $10 billion national fertilizer producer targeted in federal and state CWA investigations stemming from discharge of chemical fertilizer.
- Defended a nonprofit organization that allegedly violated the Clean Air Act during asbestos removal, resulting in no charges.
- Conducted an investigation for an international shipping company regarding allegations of employee violations of the CWA.
- Defended employees of a company involved in a massive cyanide dump in the Cuyahoga River, resulting in no charges.
Internal Investigations, Witness Representation & Subpoena Issues
- Conducted an internal investigation for a Fortune 200 global manufacturer of paints, coatings, optical products, specialty materials, glass and fiberglass in connection with potential obstruction of justice allegations related to an OSHA investigation.
- Conducted an internal investigation for an international chemicals company, leading to prosecution and conviction of an employee who stole more than $700,000 from the company.
- Conducted an internal investigation of a multimillion-dollar nonprofit agency to determine if public funds were misused in the administration of programs.
- Represented a CEO embroiled in an Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) investigation, resulting in no charges.
- Represented a multibillion-dollar foundation in a criminal probe related to misuse of foundation’s assets by an outside grantee.
- Conducted an internal investigation for one of North America’s largest plastics compounders and resins distributors in response to a federal investigation stemming from the alleged theft of trade secrets by a subcontractor.
- Conducted an internal investigation of a multi-state electrical contractor with regard to claims that employees were engaged in Hobbs Act and other federal bribery-related offenses.
- Represented a multibillion-dollar foundation during an inquiry by a state attorney general’s office regarding its management of another charitable foundation’s asset endowment funds.
- Conducted an internal investigation for a nonprofit health care organization regarding solicitation of a bribe from a government employee.
- Represented a Fortune 500 packaging corporation in response to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission inquiry regarding securities comprising a portion of its employee retirement portfolio.
- Represented numerous witnesses in federal and state criminal investigations.
- Created corporate ethics, anti-corruption, and compliance plan for construction company facing federal corruption-related charges.
- Created compliance plan addressing all facets of compliance, anti-corruption and risk management for national automotive repair compainy.
- Defended an internal medicine specialist in an Ohio Medical Board proceeding, securing a below-guidelines sentence that resulted in avoiding suspension of the client’s medical license.
- Defended law student before Ohio Supreme Court's Board on Character and Fitness regarding weapons charges enabling him to sit for bar exam and be sworn into practice of law after passage.
- Defended student facing expulsion from a prestigious private college in a Title IX hearing and prevailed in refuting all claims of sexual misconduct and obtaining a modest period of probation for underage alcohol-related activities.
- Obtained removal of a plating company and its owners from the GSA’s Excluded Parties List System, enabling the company to contract with federal agencies.
- Represented a broker/dealer in a FINRA enforcement action, resulting in a no-action letter.
- Defended multiple individuals and corporations in federal and state debarment proceedings.
- Represented a physician in an action against Centers for Medicare Services resulting from suspension of Medicare billing privileges for felony conviction.
- Defended a booster involved in a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) investigation of a football program at a large Midwestern university known for its history of football success.
- Defended a plating company in an administrative action brought by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District for environmental violations.
- Represented members of an international union in an action brought against local leadership by a monitoring governmental agency.
- Defended an individual cited by the Ohio bar for the unauthorized practice of law in performing tax appraisal services.
- Served as pro bono counsel with other Thompson Hine attorneys for an individual seeking commutation of his life sentence for federal drug-related charges and obtained clemency for petitioner from President Obama, reducing his sentence from life to one additional year of incarceration.
- Obtained dismissal of state drug trafficking indictment for pharmaceutical sales executive charged with drug trafficking in bariatric weight loss medicine.
- Served as pro bono counsel with a team of Thompson Hine attorneys for one of the defendants in the Amish beard trimming case, securing a reversal of her conviction for violating the federal Hate Crimes statute.
- Served as pro bono counsel for an individual charged with felonious assault and secured a misdemeanor plea, resulting in a sentence of probation.
- Secured avoidance of state criminal charges for an individual arrested for child endangerment.
- Represented a dentist indicted for illegally issuing prescriptions for Schedule II narcotics, obtaining a reduction from a mandatory prison sentence to a sentence of probation.
- Secured avoidance of federal and state criminal charges for an individual arrested for illegal activities aboard a coast-to-coast flight.
Chemical & Mass Tort
- Provided national representation for many chemical companies and a trade association in connection with product liability and industry-wide conspiracy claims associated with exposure to vinyl chloride.
- Provided national representation and tried cases for multiple international shipowners in industry-wide maritime claims stemming from alleged exposure to asbestos.
- Defended an international chemical company in personal injury claims arising from alleged exposure to a pesticide containing Fipronil.
- Represented an international manufacturer of heavy equipment in industry-wide litigation associated with welding rods.
- Obtained dismissal of action for an international chemical company in an asbestos matter where the plaintiff claimed asbestos-contaminated talc led to development of mesothelioma.
- Represented a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer in premises liability/workplace intentional tort claims associated with an employee’s workplace injury while making repairs at one of its facilities.
- Represented a global powder coating manufacturer in premises liability/workplace intentional tort claims associated with extruder burns.
- Represented an international tree trimming business in intentional tort claims stemming from the death of an employee in a bucket truck accident.
- Represented a global manufacturer in premises liability/workplace intentional tort claims arising from an employee’s injury while working with molten magnesium.
Product Liability & Personal Injury
- Defended an international manufacturer of chainsaws and cutoff saws against substantial personal injury claims.
- Defended corporate parent of a franchisee against claims resulting from catastrophic bounce house injury.
- Defended machine tool manufacturers in multiple product liability matters involving substantial personal injury claims.
- Defended multiple dialysis centers in personal injury claims stemming from treatment at various facilities.
- Defended a safety control products manufacturer against multiple claims arising from substantial personal injuries.
- Represented a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer in connection with claims arising from the rollover of a sport utility vehicle.
- Defended a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer against claims arising from the rollover of a conversion van.
- Represented a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer in connection with claims of negligence arising from a company car accident.
- Defended a major U.S.-based automobile manufacturer against a claim regarding injuries allegedly caused by gas struts attached to a hood.
Workplace Accident Investigations
- Investigated an accident involving an employee killed while improperly operating a bucket truck.
- Investigated an accident in which an employee was killed on a job site by a falling tree.
Business, Contract, Patent, Real Estate & Construction Litigation
- Secured a $3.3 million judgment against a former general manager of a division of a Fortune 500 motion control equipment manufacturer in an intricate employee embezzlement case involving the theft of more than $400,000 in company funds.
- Defended a construction company in an arbitration, securing a favorable result.
- Defended an owner of a dental-related patent in a corporate dissolution action, securing purchase of the patented technology.
- Defended an owner of a significant medical malpractice insurance brokerage, resulting in the successful purchase of the company.
- Defended a nanotechnology company in a breach of contract action.
- Defended a plastics company in a breach of contract action.
- Defended a national electronics retailer in a breach of contract action arising from an alleged breach of the lease for one of its “big box” stores.
- Defended a national automotive collision repair company in a breach of contract action arising from real estate tenancy.
- Successfully defended an international tree care company in multiple trials before the Occupational Health and Safety Commission involving workplace deaths and the applicability of logging regulations to an employer engaged in arborist work.
- “SEC’s Enforcement Focus on Pandemic-Related Misconduct,” Thompson Hine COVID-19 Update, May 2020
- Co-author, “The Evolution of Criminal Conspiracy Law and ‘Flipping the Script’ in United States v. Elizabeth Holmes,” National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) magazine, The Champion, April 2020
- Co-author, "Beyond the Mob: 'Varsity Blues' and DOJ's Expanding Use of RICO to Prosecute White-Collar Crime," Criminal Justice, American Bar Association, Fall 2019
- "Ways Your Company May Be Drawing Criminal Health Care Fraud Scrutiny,” New York Law Journal, March 30, 2018
- "Court Clarifies Foreign Government ‘Instrumentality’ Under FCPA," Thompson Hine FCPA/Antibribery Update, May 21, 2014
- "Second Circuit Further Defines 'Honest Services,'" Thompson Hine White Collar Criminal Practice, Internal Investigations & Government Enforcement Update, February 2014
- "Conquer Modern Coconspirator Declarations," For The Defense, January 2013
- "Lessons from the Lorax: Jury Selection in Difficult Cases," FDCC Quarterly, Volume 62.3, September 2012
- "Seeking a Downward Departure for Small Business Impact," For The Defense, July 2011
- "Dodd-Frank Act Expands Securities Whistleblower Incentives," Thompson Hine LLP Competition, Antitrust & White Collar Crime and Business Litigation Update, July 2010
- "Supreme Court Limits Reach of 'Honest Services' Statute," Thompson Hine LLP Competition, Antitrust & White Collar Crime Update, June 2010
- "Appeals Court Declines to Apply Stricter Requirements; Competent Medical Authority to be Determined at Time of Filing," Thompson Hine LLP Mass & Toxic Tort Update, July 2009
- "Nanotechnology Litigation: Factors to Consider When Advising Your Clients," IADC Product Liability Newsletter, May 2009
- "Nanotechnology Regulation Slowly Beginning to Appear," Thompson Hine LLP Product Liability Update, April 2009
- "Supreme Court Limits Strict Liability for Nonmanufacturing Suppliers of Defective Products," Thompson Hine LLP Product Liability Update, November 2008
- "Ohio Supreme Court Finds Retroactivity of Statute Constitutional Results in Dismissals of Numerous Pending Asbestos-Related Claims," Thompson Hine Mass & Toxic Tort Alert, October 2008
- "Preparing Your Business for the COVID-19 World: A Webinar Series - Session Five - PPP Loans," Thompson Hine Webinar, May 26, 2020
- “After the Motion: Attaching and Impeaching Intercepted Communications at Trial,” Lake County Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, October 2017
- Panel member for presentation on proposed amendments to Ohio’s Criminal Rule 11, John M. Manos Inn of Court, December 2015
- “Are We Covered for That? Insurance Coverage for Investigations and Government Enforcement,” Defense Research Institute, Government Enforcement and Corporate Compliance Seminar, Washington D.C., July 2014
- Served as faculty for “Deposition Skills,” NITA, 2014 and 2016
- “Penn State Scandal: Ethics Lessons from the Cover-Up,” multiple presentations November-December 2014 (with James D. Robenalt)
- “Are We Covered for This? A Discussion of Insurance Coverage for a Company Facing Government Investigations and Enforcement,” Defense Research Institute Annual Meeting, October 18, 2013
- “18 U.S.C. 1519: Taking Obstruction in New and Unsettling Directions,” Network of Trial Law Firms event, New York City, September 20, 2013
- "Ethics in the Construction Industry," Construction Employers Association, January 2013
- "Basics of White-Collar Crime, Turnaround Management Association," November 2012
- "After the Motion: Attacking and Impeaching Intercepted Communications at Trial," Federal Bar Association, March 2012
- "Lessons of the Lorax: Jury Selection in Difficult Cases" (with Stuart Simon from American Jury Centers), Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel Winter Meeting, March 2012
- "A Whole Trial in Three Hours (repeat presentations on voir dire)," Federal Bar Association, 2009 to 2012
- "Nanotechnology Litigation in the Future: An Ounce of Prevention Is Worth a Pound of Cure," Materials and Energy Summit, November 2010, April 2010
- "Protecting Your Company From Future Nanotechnology Litigation," Ohio Innovation Summit, 2009
- "Nano-The Emerging Legal Landscape," Ohio Nanotechnology Summit, April 9-11, 2008
- "Blinded By the Light: Trying the High-Profile Case in the Midst of a Media Frenzy," Network of Trial Law Firms event, California, 2007
- "Motion Law: From Basic to Advanced Procedures," Lorman Seminar, 2006
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers
- Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2016 to 2022 for Criminal Defense: White-Collar
- Selected to the Ohio Super Lawyers list, 2014 to 2022; included multiple times on the list of the top 50 lawyers in Cleveland and on the list of Ohio's top 100 lawyers
- Selected to the Ohio Rising Stars list, 2006, 2007, 2009
- Recognized in Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business, Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, Ohio, 2018 to 2021
- Listed as a Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation, 2012 to 2022
- AV Preeminent® peer review rated by Martindale-Hubbell in Litigation, White-Collar Crime and Criminal Law
- American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
- Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel (FDCC)
- Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (CMBA)
- Judicial Conference of the Eighth Judicial District, life member
- John M. Manos Inn of Court, barrister
- Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Board of Directors (2020-present)
- Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Judicial Selection Committee (Chair 2018-2020)
October 11, 2021
December 01, 2020
April 30, 2020
Beyond the Mob - “Varsity Blues” and DOJ’s Expanding Use of RICO to Prosecute White-Collar Crime
November 19, 2019