Carol Alexis Chen is a partner in Winston & Strawn’s Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm’s White Collar, Regulatory Defense, and Investigations Practice. She represents public and private companies, corporate officers, and other individuals in all aspects of white collar criminal and regulatory matters, both before charges have been filed and at trial. In addition to responding to government investigations, she conducts sensitive internal investigations for her corporate and individual clients and counsels them on the development, implementation, and enhancement of compliance and remediation programs, including with respect to the Bank Secrecy Act, anti-money laundering, trade, and export control laws and regulations, and the False Claims Act and related qui tam provisions. In the civil realm, Carol represents clients on a wide range of complex commercial litigation issues, including business torts, fraud, and RICO.
Prior to joining Winston & Strawn, Carol served as an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in Los Angeles (“CDCA USAO”) for over 15 years, most recently as the first female Chief in office history of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (“OCDETF” Section)). Under her leadership, the section expanded the use of federal drug trafficking, money laundering, financial, tax, forfeiture, racketeering, and fraud laws to combat international and significant domestic narcotics trafficking and money laundering organizations; racketeering enterprises such as the Mexican Mafia prison gang and criminal street gangs; traditional and emerging transnational organized criminal enterprises, including those which utilize the dark net and cryptocurrency; and companies and individuals which manufacture and distribute opioids. In her role as Chief, Carol led numerous district-wide money laundering and financial crimes initiatives, task forces, and working groups, including those combating trade-based fraud; money laundering; unlicensed money remitting businesses; customs violations; fraud, money laundering, and other financial crime offenses committed through the use of casinos (including tribal casinos) and card rooms, the dark net, and cryptocurrency; tax fraud; and Bank Secrecy Act violations. Carol also helped to oversee the nationally modeled opioids enforcement program that utilizes advanced data and analytics to target physicians, pharmacies, and medical clinics engaged in illicit drug diversion, and to secure convictions on charges including health care fraud, tax fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and acquiring DEA registrations and controlled substances through fraud. Carol’s other supervisor positions included Acting Deputy Chief and Acting Chief of the General Crimes Section where she oversaw the charging, prosecution, and trials of smaller wire, bank, and health care fraud, and bulk cash smuggling matters.
Carol is the rare former federal prosecutor who served in both the Criminal and Civil Divisions of CDCA USAO, with extensive criminal and civil casework and first-chair trial experience. Carol has directed federal and local law enforcement in hundreds of large-scale, complex federal criminal grand jury and wiretap investigations, evaluated thousands of investigations for federal prosecution, trained countless law enforcement agents and prosecutors including on building complex, large-scale investigations and courtroom and trial advocacy, and helped to lead law enforcement and community outreach efforts. Carol has been consistently recognized and lauded for her trial prowess including by federal judges before whom she has tried 13 criminal and civil cases; these cases include five complex, multi-week criminal jury trials involving money laundering and racketeering gang cases, a significant excessive force/Bivens civil rights jury trial, and the successful defense of a $50 million tort case after a bench trial. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section’s 2019 Prosecutor of the Year Award and the OCDETF Director’s 2018 National Award for Outstanding Transnational Money Laundering Investigation of the Year; nominations for the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in 2020 and 2017 and for the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney in 2018 and 2017; and commendations from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations, National Aeronautical and Space Administration, Office of Inspector General, and the United States Postal Inspection Service, to name just a few.
Carol is active in women’s rights, children’s rights, and efforts on behalf of Asian American Pacific Islander communities and animal welfare, and is an appointed member of the Los Angeles County Bar Association President’s Advisory Committee on Women in the Legal Profession, serving on both the Promoting Women to Lead and Gender Bias/Civility Subcommittees and of the Delegation to the Conference of Delegates Committee. She is a member of various other bar associations and organizations including the American Bar Association, the Organization of Chinese Americans – The Greater Los Angeles Chapter, and Chief, and is a selected participant of Leadership California CIT 2021 and a graduate of Supermajority Education Fund's 2021 Majority Leaders Program.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Carol was a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of a global law firm for approximately three years, specializing in complex commercial, employment, and securities litigation and counseling. She earned a B.A. in political science, summa cum laude, from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a J.D. from Yale Law School. Upon graduation, she clerked for the (Late) Honorable Pamela Ann Rymer on the Ninth Circuit in Pasadena, California, and for the (Retired) Honorable Lourdes G. Baird, then a District Judge for the Central District of California.