Dane Ball likes to get things done—yesterday—and brings that intensity and urgency to every aspect of his work. As a Partner in SKV’s White Collar Defense & Investigations practice, Mr. Ball has successfully represented individuals and companies in their most sensitive legal matters, including some of the highest-profile litigation of the past 15 years.
His public victories have drawn acclaim—such as the not guilty verdict for the BP well site leader wrongfully blamed for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; the government’s agreement to dismiss fraud charges against a coach indicted in the “Varsity Blues” investigation; the dismissal of corruption charges against one of the longest-sitting members of the Texas House of Representatives; and a complete acquittal after one of the nation’s few criminal insider-trading trials. But Mr. Ball is equally proud of the discreet ways he has helped innocent clients avoid charges in an array of government investigations. From federal criminal trials or appeals to parallel criminal, civil, and administrative proceedings to a wide range of internal and government investigations, Mr. Ball has repeatedly achieved favorable outcomes for clients and along the way earned the respect of his peers and adversaries. In recent years, clients have increasingly asked him to assist in high-stakes civil litigation in which a client or the opposition has alleged criminal or other serious misconduct, such as opioids-related lawsuits against a drug distributor and sex-trafficking lawsuits against a technology company.
Mr. Ball is keenly aware of the high stakes for a company or individual involved in an investigation or white collar criminal case. Thus, he communicates frequently and openly with his clients to minimize surprises and bring control to an often chaotic environment. Uniquely adept with both the big picture and small details, Mr. Ball focuses his practice on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and anti-corruption, environmental and industrial catastrophes, and alleged fraud and financial crimes.
Prior to attending law school, Mr. Ball was recruited to play Division 1 baseball for nationally-ranked Pepperdine University, where he became an all-conference player. He then translated the discipline he honed on the baseball diamond into success at law school, graduating summa cum laude from Pepperdine University School of Law. Mr. Ball began his career at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom after clerking for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Over the years, he has appeared on television and radio and been quoted in newspapers across the country, taught at University of Houston Law Center, and written about cutting-edge white collar issues for national publications.
Mr. Ball also devotes time to pro bono criminal matters, including abroad, such as helping obtain the release of an innocent prisoner in Uganda.
SELECT TRIAL COURT WORK
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act / Anti-Corruption
- “Varsity Blues” Alleged College Admissions Bribery Scandal. Ball served as trial counsel for a Division 1 athletic coach in the “Varsity Blues” investigation, which led to a RICO and fraud indictment alleging illegal payments in the admissions process at numerous universities. Before trial, the Court dismissed one of the government’s fraud theories; the government later abandoned its RICO charge; and ultimately, the government and SKV’s client resolved the case in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement under which the government agreed to dismiss the charges upon satisfaction of the agreement’s conditions.
- Dawnna Dukes Public Corruption Scandal — Charges Dismissed. Mr. Ball served as defense counsel for one of the longest-sitting members of the Texas House of Representatives, Dawnna Dukes, who was charged in Travis County, TX with 15 counts of public corruption in 3 separate indictments. The defense mounted legal and factual defenses that dismantled all three indictments and caused the prosecution to request a continuance to determine whether it could prove its case. The prosecution later dismissed all 15 charges with prejudice before trial.
Environmental & Industrial Catastrophes
- Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill — Not guilty. Ball served as trial counsel for BP’s “well site leader” in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizonoil spill, including a company internal investigation; civil multi-district litigation; parallel administrative proceedings; and 23 federal criminal charges of manslaughter and Clean Water Act pollution. Over the course of 4 years of litigation, convinced court to dismiss 11 manslaughter charges before trial (affirmed on appeal), and the government itself dismissed 11 more. After a two-week trial on the remaining Clean Water Act charge, obtained a not guilty verdict after less than two hours of jury deliberation.
- Black Elk Explosion in the Gulf of Mexico — 11 felony charges dismissed; misdemeanor settlement. Ball served as defense counsel for an offshore contractor charged in the aftermath of the Black Elk explosion with manslaughter, violations of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, and a Clean Water Act violation. Successfully avoided the 8 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act charges after showing that the relevant statutes do not apply to offshore contractors. Prior to trial, the manslaughter felonies were dismissed when the parties reached a misdemeanor Clean Water Act settlement.
Fraud and Financial Crimes
- Shaw Group / CB&I Merger Insider Trading — Not Guilty. Ball served as trial counsel for a businessman indicted for alleged insider trading following his purchase of stock before formal announcement of the merger. Obtained a verdict of not guilty on all charges, and later, complete dismissal in the parallel SEC enforcement action.
- BP Commodities Trading Scandal — Charges dismissed. Ball served as defense counsel for a BP commodities trader in a federal criminal case alleging 26 counts of commodities manipulation, cornering, and wire fraud. By showing that the Commodities Exchange Act did not apply to the alleged trades, obtained dismissal of all 26 counts, and the appellate court affirmed the dismissal.
- Multimillion dollar mortgage fraud — Charges dismissed. Ball served as defense counsel for a mortgage broker in a federal criminal case charging 14 individuals with mortgage fraud and money laundering. The other 13 defendants pled guilty or cooperated. Three days before trial, secured a “deferred prosecution agreement,” and the government later dismissed all charges.
GOVERNMENT & INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act / Anti-Corruption
- Currently representing executives of a publicly-traded energy company in an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into alleged violations of the FCPA in Africa.
- Currently representing an executive in an investigation by DOJ and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into alleged violations of the FCPA in South America.
- Currently representing a business owner in an investigation by DOJ and DHS into alleged violations of the FCPA involving a foreign state-owned energy company in South America.
- Successful representation of an executive of a classification society in an investigation into alleged violations of the FCPA. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of an executive at an oilfield services company in an investigation by DOJ into alleged bribery of public officials in the United States. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of executives at oilfield services companies in separate investigations by DOJ into alleged illegal trading with sanctioned countries. No charges filed.
Environmental & Industrial Catastrophes
- Successful representation of one of the nation’s leading residential real estate companies in internal and grand jury investigations into alleged felony water pollution. All charges dismissed.
- Successful representation of employees at a chemical company in federal and state government investigations into the cause of an industrial accident. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of a commercial construction company in an investigation by DOJ and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) into the death of a worker at a construction site. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of numerous employees and shipping companies in separate investigations by DOJ, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) into alleged environmental violations offshore. No charges filed.
Fraud and Financial Crimes
- Currently advising numerous publicly-traded companies in the financial industry as they interact with federal law enforcement in investigations into the conduct of their executives or employees.
- Currently representing former executives of an energy trading company in an investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
- Currently representing the owner of an industrial equipment company in parallel civil and criminal cases involving alleged kickbacks to employees of a contractual counterparty.
- Currently representing business owners in the wholesale luxury watch industry who were defrauded by various contractual counterparties.
- Currently representing the former Chair of the Audit Committee of a publicly-traded oilfield services company in a derivative suit and SEC investigation into the company’s previous public disclosures.
- Currently representing a doctor in a DOJ Healthcare Fraud Task Force investigation.
- Currently representing a director of large privately-held companies in an investigation by DOJ and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Currently representing a large privately-held company in an investigation by DOJ’s Antitrust Division into alleged price-fixing.
- Successful representation of a business owner in a criminal investigation by IRS. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of a large packaging company in an investigation by the Department of Labor (DOL). No charges filed.
- Successful representation of a senior executive at an energy infrastructure services company in investigations by the company, SEC, and Financial Industry Regulation Authority (FINRA) into alleged insider trading and failure to report insider trades. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of an executive at an industrial manufacturing company in an investigation by DOJ into alleged financial fraud against an oil company. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of a charter school in an investigation by DOJ, the U.S. Department of Education, and IRS into alleged financial fraud. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of an individual in an investigation by DOJ, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and IRS into alleged financial fraud in the athletic department of a public university. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of a senior executive at a technology manufacturer in an investigation by DOJ into alleged theft of trade secrets from a competitor. No charges filed.
- Successful representation of a broker in a FINRA arbitration proceeding alleging fraud and negligence. No charges filed. Plaintiff awarded 1/10th of alleged damages at arbitration.
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- American Bar Association
- State Bar of Texas
- State Bar of Minnesota
- United States District Court for the Southern, Northern, Eastern, and Western Districts of Texas and District of Colorado
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
- Improving “Willful Blindness” Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases after High Court’s Decision in Global-Tech, BNA Criminal Law Reporter (June 2011)
- Repackaging Skilling-Barred Fraud Theories: A Form of Damage Control That Goes Too Far, BNA White Collar Crime Report (October 2010)
- Ending a Decade of Federal Prosecutorial Abuse in the Corporate Criminal Charging Decision, 9 WYO. L. REV. (2009)
- Thornton v. United States: Blurring Belton’s Bright Line Rule Spells Disaster for Lower Courts and the Fourth Amendment, 35 SW. U. L. REV. (2005)
Television and Radio Appearances:
- I Am Exonerated: State Rep. Dawnna Duke Speaks Out After Criminal Charges Dropped, KVUE News (October 23, 2017)
- Fact or Fiction: Local Attorney Talks “Deepwater Horizon” Film, KHOU 11 News (September 30, 2016)
- Reasonable Doubt, Houston Media Source (July 14, 2016 & April 25, 2019)
- Deepwater Horizon Joint Investigation Hearing Before U.S. Coast Guard and Bureau of Energy Management, C-SPAN (August 24, 2010)
- All Things Considered, National Public Radio – 88.7 (various dates)
- Another Coach Turns to Houston Lawyers in Admissions Fraud Scandal, Texas Lawyer (March 29, 2019)
- Deepwater Deception: The Truth About the Tragic Blowout & Perversion of American Justice, Robert Kaluza & Maryann Karinch (April 20, 2018)
- Dane Ball (JD ’05) Secures Release for Innocent Ugandan Prisoner During Sudreau Summer Global Justice Project, Pepperdine Law Surf Report (July 19, 2018)
- Admitting Error, Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Rep. Dawnna Dukes, The Texas Tribune (October 23, 2017)
- Prosecutors Drop Criminal Charges Against State Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Houston Chronicle (October 23, 2017)
- Prosecutors Drop All Remaining Charges Against Rep. Dawnna Dukes, Austin Statesman (October 23, 2017)
- Corrine Brown’s Trial Features Big-Name Witnesses to Test Charges, Florida Times-Union (April 22, 2017)
- Blowout, Texas Monthly (October 2016)
- Big Wins with Expert Witnesses: 6 Lessons From Attorneys, The Expert Institute (June 7, 2016)
- FuelFX, SKV Deliver Virtual Environments for Real-World Justice, Business Wire (March 30, 2015)
- Successfully Defending a Federal White Collar Criminal Case, Southern District of Texas Federal Bar Association Luncheon (May 2018)
- Not Guilty: The Roberts Insider TradingAquittal, Houston Bar Association Seminars (October 2017)
- The 5 Biggest Problems in Criminal Law Today, Houston Bar Association Seminars (November 2016)
- Not Guilty: The Deepwater Horizon Criminal Trials, Business Crimes for Criminal and Civil Lawyers (October 2016)
- Deepwater Horizon: Reflections on Navigating High-Profile Criminal Investigations and Trials, Houston Bar Association Criminal Law & Procedure Section (August 2016)
Anti-Corruption Law & Policy, University of Houston Law Center (2011)
- Super Lawyers, “Criminal Defense: White Collar” 2020-Present
- Best Lawyers in America, “Best Lawyers” 2018-Present
- H Texas, “Top Lawyer” 2016-Present
- Benchmark, “Litigation Star” 2018-Present
- Benchmark, “Future Star” 2016-2018
- Benchmark, “Under 40 Hot List” 2016-2018
- Texas Monthly, “Outstanding Young Lawyer” 2016-2018
- Super Lawyers, “Rising Star” 2014-2018