Joseph Dixon is an accomplished trial attorney with a unique blend of government, in-house and business experience. He knows how to guide clients through a wide range of precarious matters to achieve results.
As a former Assistant United States Attorney, Joe’s DOJ background ensures an insider’s understanding of the perspective and the investigative strategies employed by the government. His in-house corporate legal experience brings an understanding and focus on the strategic interests of the client and its business objectives, while navigating through crisis.
Joe represented the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in responding to parallel criminal and civil charges brought by the State of Minnesota. The criminal charges were ultimately dismissed following a landmark civil settlement. Joe also co-led an independent investigation of the University of Minnesota Athletics Department and has represented the Minnesota State Auditor in constitutional litigation defending her office. He has also represented numerous corporate clients and individuals who have faced a wide array of allegations and other unique challenges. Recently, in response to a defense motion to dismiss, the Department of Justice dismissed its Indictment of one of Joe’s clients alleging that she had participated in a $200 million bank fraud conspiracy.
Joe has significant experience handling complex litigation. He has tried over two dozen matters to a jury verdict and argued over three dozen cases before appellate courts. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.
Prior to joining Fredrikson, Joe served as the Deputy General Counsel for UnitedHealth Group, a diversified Fortune 10 health and well-being company. In this role, he managed significant internal investigations and responded to government inquiries for the enterprise. Joe’s experience includes investigating allegations relating to the False Claims Act, privacy breaches, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)-related concerns, as well as responding to Congressional inquiries.
Joe was also a federal prosecutor for 10 years and served as the Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section for the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota.
Before his public service, Joe practiced at a Wall Street law firm where he successfully handled litigation arising out of complex commercial transactions.
Learn About Strategically Representing Organizations in Litigation and Investigations:
When should an organization retain the services of an attorney after learning they are the subject of a federal or state investigation?
How should an organization cooperate with investigators?
What are the best practices that organizations can implement in order to prevent federal or state investigations?
How can companies reduce the risk of exposure to false claims act litigation?
How does representing an organization differ from representing an individual?
Joe brings a proven record as a highly capable trial advocate and was inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. He has managed complex civil and criminal litigation in a variety of proceedings. He has a well-developed skill for strategic thinking and affirmative development of the client’s litigation position, including understanding the real-life dynamics that impede resolution.
- Joe has extensive in-court experience, including over two dozen jury trials as well as civil bench trials and commercial arbitration.
- He has made over 30 oral arguments before numerous appellate courts, including the Minnesota Supreme Court and the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, including Otto v. Wright County, et al., No. A16-1634 (Jan. 3, 2018); U.S. v. Thomas Petters, No. 10-1843 (Feb. 17, 2011); and U.S. v. Loren Jennings, No. 11-3127 (May 18, 2012). Recordings of these oral arguments and others are available on-line at www.mncourts.gov/SupremeCourt/OralArgumentWebcasts.aspx and www.ca8.uscourts.gov.
- Joe has litigated high stakes commercial disputes in state and federal courts relating to sophisticated corporate transactions and False Claims Act allegations, including an International Chamber of Commerce arbitration regarding a failed acquisition, and litigation regarding a pension asset transfer.
- Joe has also represented the Minnesota State Auditor in constitutional litigation regarding the constitutional duties of the State Auditor.
- Supreme Court hears Rebecca Otto’s challenge, Minnesota Lawyer, January 4, 2018.
Complex Criminal and Enforcement Actions
Joe has represented large organizations and individuals defending themselves against government investigations and regulatory enforcement actions. In June 2015, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally and civilly charged by the State of Minnesota. In December 2015, the civil litigation was settled with a landmark agreement providing for child protection protocols. In July 2016, after the exchange of briefing on a motion to dismiss, the Archdiocese and the State of Minnesota agreed to dismiss the criminal case. The case received substantial media coverage, including:
- Archdiocese moves to hire Joseph Dixon III for special criminal defense, Star Tribune, June 16, 2015
- Archdiocese asks for big-name legal help, Minnesota Public Radio, June 17, 2015
- Archdiocese, Ramsey County attorney reach unprecedented agreement in clergy sex abuse case, Star Tribune, December 18, 2015
- Archdiocese admits it mishandled abuse case: Six charges dropped in exchange for new accountability measures, Pioneer Press, July 21, 2016
Joe has represented individuals in defense against allegations ranging from large-scale federal fraud charges, state criminal charges to regulatory actions and administrative proceedings. Joe recently obtained the dismissal of all charges by the Department of Justice in a case where the DOJ had alleged Joe’s client conspired to commit a $200 million bank fraud. Joe filed numerous motions to dismiss, and ultimately, the federal prosecutors dismissed the Indictment against Joe’s client.
Joe also recently represented a city councilman who was cleared following a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation into bribery allegations.
- Dai Thao won’t be charged in bribery-solicitation case, Pioneer Press, September 12, 2017
During his tenure at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, where he handled some of the most significant cases prosecuted by that Office, Joe developed a reputation as one of the leading complex criminal practitioners in the state. He has wide experience in the criminal area as well with state and federal regulators.
In his role at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Joe:
- Acted as point of contact for federal and state law enforcement agencies investigating economic crime and public corruption, and for numerous regulatory agencies, including the United States Securities and Exchange Commission, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, and the National Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group.
- Led multiple multi-agency working groups, including the Federal Mortgage Fraud Task Force, the Investment Fraud Working Group, and the Suspicious Activity Report Review Team.
- Handled numerous cases in all Office sections: Major Crimes; Narcotics; Fraud and Public Corruption; and National Security cases.
- Supervised the criminal prosecution of a publicly-traded company for violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
Joe has personally led successful prosecution of numerous, high profile cases, including:
- U.S. v. Thomas Joseph Petters, et al., multi-agency investigation of a multi-billion dollar corporate fraud and prosecution of the owner of Polaroid Corp. and Sun Country Airlines, two corporations and nine other individuals; attorney on Petters trial team in five-week jury trial resulting in convictions on all counts and a 50-year sentence; led and coordinated government response in parallel criminal, civil and bankruptcy proceedings; Petters’ conviction and sentence affirmed at 663 F.3d 375 (8th Cir. 2011)
- U.S. v. Trevor Cook, prosecution of hedge fund manager for executing $165 million fraud; defendant was sentenced to 25-years’ imprisonment
- U.S. v. Parish Marketing and Development Corp., et al., largest mortgage fraud in Minnesota history by a homebuilder involving 200+ residences and over $85 million in fraudulently obtained proceeds; seven individuals and one corporation pleaded guilty; sentences affirmed at 565 F.3d 528 (8th Cir. 2009)
Joe offers clients a unique combination of government and in-house, business-side legal experience. His Department of Justice (DOJ) background ensures an insider’s understanding of the proceedings and the investigative strategies employed by the government. His in-house corporate legal experience and perspective ensures an understanding and focus on the best interests of the client and its business objectives. In addition, his experience interacting with Congress during the Healthcare.Gov rollout crisis is applicable to clients managing crises in high-profile matters.
In the Fall of 2015, Joe co-led an investigation on behalf of the University of Minnesota of its Athletics Department. As part of the inquiry, the investigation interviewed over 100 witnesses, reviewed relevant documents and emails, and conducted broad surveys. At its conclusion, the team produced a report that was publicly presented to the Board of Regents and the State Legislature. The high-profile investigation attracted national media coverage, including:
- University names attorneys to investigate Athletics Department, ex-director, Star Tribune, August 14, 2015
- Minnesota athletics probe largely clears school, Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, December 8, 2015
- UMN athletics cleared of most sexual ‘climate’ issues, Pioneer Press, December 8, 2015
In 2016, Joe also represented Fagen, Inc. in an investigation into embezzlement committed by the company’s former chief financial officer who was subsequently prosecuted by the Department of Justice.
- Former executive at Granite Falls company gets prison for embezzling $5.77 million, Star Tribune, September 13, 2016
Joe’s experience also includes:
- Representing corporate officers and former executives in government and internal investigations.
- Leading organizational internal investigations into allegations involving a diverse range of sensitive subject matters, including privacy breaches, anti-corruption (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) reviews and anti-kickback concerns.
- Managing the corporate response to significant government enforcement inquiries and False Claims Act investigations.
- Responding to Congressional inquiries, document requests and subpoenas, working with internal government affairs and communications teams; significant experience in preparing witnesses for staff briefings and committee hearings.
Articles & Presentations
PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS
Joe is frequently asked to address groups on a variety of topics, including:
- Presenter, “Avoiding the Unthinkable: Employee Embezzlement and Malfeasance,” Fredrikson & Byron Event, May 3, 2017
- Editor, Handling Internal Investigations, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (2017)
- Co-Chair, Conducting Effective Internal Investigations Seminar, Minnesota CLE, August 2016 (Presenter for panels on “Recent Developments and Enforcement Trends” and “Hiring Counsel and Coordinating with Other Parties”)
- Moderator, “Death of an FDA Prosecution: Post-Mortem on the U.S. v. Howard Root Acquittal,” Fredrikson & Byron Event, March 29, 2016
- Speaker, ABA 25th Annual National Institute on Health Care Fraud, May 2015
- Speaker, “False Claims Act Liability and the ACA Health Exchanges,” American Health Lawyers Association Annual Conference, July 2014
Honors & Education
- Columbia University School of Law, J.D., 1995, Columbia Law Review
- University of Wisconsin, B.A., 1991, with distinction
- Minnesota, 1998
- New York, 1997
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, 1998
- U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1998
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, 2001
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 2000
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, 1997
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, 2017
- United States Supreme Court, 2000
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Minnesota – Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations, 2019-present
- Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, Recognized Practitioner, Minnesota – Litigation: General Commercial, 2018
- Minnesota Super Lawyers, Super Lawyer – Criminal Defense: White Collar, 2018-present
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, inducted in 2017
- The Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation, 2018-present
- Minnesota State Bar Association, North Star Lawyer, 2016-2018
- Spurgeon Community Service Award, 2013
- United States Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, 2011
- Former United States Attorneys’ Association Exceptional Service Award, 2011
- Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer, 2009
- Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 2017-present
- Board of Directors, Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter
- Secretary, 2017-2018
- Vice President, Annual Seminar, 2016-2017
- Vice President, Monthly Meetings, 2015-2016
- United States District Court Federal Practice Committee
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Adjunct Law School Professor, 2008-present
- Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, January 2001-October 2011
- Special Assistant United States Attorney, December 2011-2013
- Deputy Criminal Chief, Chief of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section, 2009-2011
- Chief, Economic Crimes Section, 2008-2009
- Senior Litigation Counsel and Appellate Coordinator, 2007-2008
- Board of Advisors, State of Minnesota’s Financial Crimes Task Force, 2008-2011
- U.S. Attorney’s Office Special Emphasis Diversity Committee, 2008-2009
- Instructor, DOJ-National Advocacy Center, 2007-2011
- Associate, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, New York, 1996-2001
- Law Clerk, Judge Gerald W. Heaney, United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 1995-1996
- Conciliation Court Referee, Scott County
- Board of Directors, Hiawatha Academies, 2013-present
- Volunteer, St. Joan of Arc, 2013-present