WASHINGTON, DC PARTNER
Email: [email protected]
John McKnight is a Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp and a Co-Chair of the firm’s Whistleblower & Qui Tam Practice Group.
Since joining the firm, he has been named to Lawdragon’s 2021 500 Leading Plaintiff, Employment, & Civil Rights Lawyers.
At Sanford Heisler Sharp, John’s practice has focused on representing corporate whistleblowers who have exposed securities fraud and banking misconduct. He has also worked with clients alleging government contract procurement fraud and other corporate malfeasance. He has also represented executives in sensitive wrongful discharge and discrimination cases. John’s representations have included:
- Representing the former Executive Vice President and Chief Security Officer of Wells Fargo who assisted the OCC, SEC, and DOJ in recovering $3.5 billion in fines and penalties arising out of the “fake account” scandal
- Representing the former Director of Contracts at Navistar who alleged that Navistar misrepresented its pricing structure to the DOD and overcharged the Government in the MRAP vehicle purchase, resulting in Navistar agreeing to pay $50 million to settle this case in 2020
- Representing a former sales representative at Office Depot who alleged the company intentionally overcharged several states millions of dollars for office products, resulting in the case settling in 2015 for $68 Million
- Representing a former analyst at Fortinet who alleged that the Sunnyvale-based company was intentionally mislabeling Chinese cybersecurity products as being made in America and resulting in the case settling in 2019 for $545,000
- Obtaining a settlement for an undisclosed amount for a former Vice President of Outcome Media Health who alleged that the company was committing widespread advertising fraud and faced retaliation as a result
John received his law degree from the University of Maryland, his master’s degree from The New School, and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. While at the University of Maryland, he interned with the Human Rights Team at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and with the Honorable Henry H. Kennedy Jr. (Retired) of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the Honorable William Jackson of the District of Columbia Superior Court, and the Honorable Deborah Robinson, Magistrate Judge of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. He also participated in the University of Maryland’s International and Comparative Law Clinic in China, where he worked with actors in the Chinese microcredit industry. He learned Mandarin Chinese in preparation for this clinic.
A member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars, John regularly speaks on panels for the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, and Taxpayers Against Fraud. He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bar associations and Taxpayers Against Fraud.
Before joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, John worked for McKnight & Kennedy, LLC. with his father Vincent McKnight, where he gained substantial experience in the False Claims Act and Dodd-Frank, among other enforcement statutes.
When John is not lawyering, he enjoys reading science fiction, riding motorcycles, and watching Washington Wizards basketball.
- J.D., University of Maryland School of Law
- M.F.A., The New School
- B.A., University of Michigan
- Honorable Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. (Retired), the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- Honorable Judge William Jackson, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
- Honorable Judge Deborah Robinson, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- Maryland, 2011
- District of Columbia, 2015
United States ex rel. Sherwin v. Office Depot (Los Angeles County Superior Court) – $68 Million Settlement
The whistleblower, represented by Altomease Kennedy and California co-counsels, alleged that Office Depot violated the California False Claims Act by overcharging numerous governmental entities, including the city and county of Los Angeles, for office and classroom supplies, and failing to offer them the company’s “best price.” The city of Los Angeles received the largest settlement allocation of more than $11 million.
United States ex rel. Cox Et Al v. Medtronic (D. Minn.) – $23.5 Million Settlement
Sanford Heisler Sharp won a more than $4.4 million qui tam settlement against Medtronic, Inc., one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers. The whistleblower, represented by the firm and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleged that Medtronic violated the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”) and the False Claims Act by selling products to the Government that were manufactured in countries with which the United States is not a trading partner, under contracts governed by the TAA.
United States ex rel. Cox v. Smith & Nephew (W.D. Tenn.) – $11 Million Settlement
Sanford Heisler Sharp won an $11.3 million qui tam settlement against Smith & Nephew one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers. The whistleblower, represented by the firm and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleged that Smith & Nephew violated the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”) and the False Claims Act by selling products to the Government that were manufactured in countries with which the United States is not a trading partner, under contracts governed by the TAA.
United States ex rel. Yuxin “Jay” Fang v. Fortinet, Inc., et al.
According to settlement documents in a qui tam case against California-based network security company Fortinet, Inc., the relator represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp was awarded 19% of the $545,000 the company was fined for selling equipment made in China to the U.S. Government.
- Facebook Whistleblower Testimony Shines A Light On Credibility Factor, Best Lawyers, October 19, 2021
- Navistar Settles Marine Corps Fraud Case For $50M, Law360, May 27, 2021
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Announces $50 Million Settlement In False Claims Act Case Against Navistar Defense and Navistar International, Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, May 27, 2021
- Law360 Names Attys Who Moved Up The Firm Ranks In Q1, Law360, May 07, 2021
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Announces Ten Promotions For 2021, Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, December 16, 2020
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Promotes Felicia Gilbert to San Francisco Managing Partner, Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, January 08, 2020
- Mayday: what everyone should know about correctly valuing cryptocurrencies, Global Restructuring Review, August 22, 2022.
- Are Employees (and Other Whistleblowers) Protected from Retaliation?, Chambers and Partners, July 22, 2022.
- The Need for Clarity: Whistleblowers in an Opaque, Digital World, Global Data Review, June 2022.
- As the Government Prioritizes Cybersecurity Fraud, Whistleblowers Are Vital to Rooting It Out Taxpayers Against Fraud, 2022
- October 3 – 5, 2018, Panelist/Speaker: Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund (TAFEF) 2018 Conference and Awards
- Swifties Sue Ticketmaster: Implications for Consumers and Investors
- Automation: Effective or Efficient? Mass Layoffs and the Future of the Tech Industry
- Lawyers on Layers: The Regulatory Future of Decentralized Finance
- Intangible Possessions, Tangible Fraud: Plagiarism and NFTs
- The New Big Brother: Privacy, Cybersecurity, and the Metaverse
- “The Wild West”: The Need for Cryptocurrency Regulation
- Sarbanes-Oxley: Private or Public?
- Confidentiality Agreements as the Basis for False Claims Act Suits
- Whistleblowing Under Dodd-Frank and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
- Dual-Pronged Protections for Record-Keeping Whistleblowers
- GSA Pricing Fraud Basics: What is it and what should you look for?
- If you’re wondering what’s keeping women out of STEM, don’t discount sexual harassment
- Agent Scully and the Hollywood Wage Gap
- “Master of None” and the Freedom to Be Average
- Speedy Ortiz FTW
- Beyond Seventy-Eight Percent
- The United States, China, and the STEM Gender Gap