Prior to joining the firm, Jim served continuously as the longest serving United States Attorney in the nation with almost 12 years of continuous service.

Biography – View PDF Bio

Narrative Bio

A member of the Commercial Litigation Group, Jim Letten—a 1979 Tulane University law graduate and member of the Louisiana Bar—consults and provides representation on criminal and regulatory investigations by government agencies, as well as civil fraud cases and international trade and regulatory issues, including the establishment of corporate compliance and integrity programs. He previously served 36 years as a prosecutor (31 years with the United States Department of Justice). Before his retirement at the end of 2012, Jim was the longest-serving United States Attorney in the nation and one of only three U.S. Attorneys appointed to the position by successive presidents from different parties. In all, he spent nearly 12 continuous years as the United States Attorney in New Orleans/Southeast Louisiana. Prior to serving as the ranking federal law enforcement official in the District, Jim had distinguished himself as Organized Crime Strike Force Chief and later First Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Jim spent over 30 years prosecuting virtually every type of complex state and federal White Collar, Narcotics and Corruption offense (including extensive experience with RICO prosecutions). He investigated, charged, and tried a broad spectrum of money laundering offenses, including violations of Title 18 US Code Sections 1956 (Laundering) and 1957 (Investment of Illegal Proceeds), as well as Title 31 US Code Section 5324 (Structuring to Evade CTR Reporting Requirements)—all of which contribute to his Anti-Money-Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act compliance skills. Additionally, he was lead prosecutor in a case in which before Congressional enactment of the sting provision of 31 USC 5324 prohibiting structuring, in order to bring federal charges against launderers in an undercover operation, he successfully charged individual violators as “financial institutions” under Title 31.

Over the years Jim has also taught and lectured extensively on the investigation and prosecution of a broad range of Public Corruption offenses, including the RICO, Extortion, Laundering and other federal violations on which former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and co-defendants were convicted in 2000 when Jim led the lengthy and complex investigation and four-month trial. As United States Attorney, Jim served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC) and co-chaired the AG’s Special Policy Review Working Group on Capital Punishment. He also served on the AGAC Subcommittees on Terrorism and National Security, as well as Environmental Issues.

A military veteran of 20 years in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Jim is a retired Navy Commander, having focused much of his career on foreign counterintelligence (having been variously tasked to Defense Intelligence Agency and Office of Naval Intelligence); and some 13 years as a fully-credentialled NCIS Agent.

Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Jim helped to establish and eventually served as the Director of the National Center for Disaster Fraud. He also received recognition for his leadership from the Attorney General of the United States and due to his anti-corruption expertise, has lectured and has been published in China on the U.S. FCPA and global anti-corruption trends and legislation, on behalf of Tulane, Yale and Zhejiang Province Law Schools. Jim has also provided representation to major American Universities on sensitive issues involving grant compliance and protection of sensitive personal privacy data involving the EU.

Associations

Bar Admissions

  • Louisiana, 1979

Civic Involvement

  • Jefferson Parish Quality Assurance Review Committee of the Inspector General’s Office, Committee Member
  • Tulane University's Emergency and Security Studies Industry Advisory Board
  • Tulane University Law School Alumni Association
  • University of New Orleans Alumni Association, Selection Committee
  • Boy Scouts of America Southeast Louisiana Council, President, 2016-Present
  • De La Salle High School Alumni Association
  • National World War II Museum, PT-305 Advisory Board
  • Higgins Boat Society, Volunteer/Member, PT-305 Restoration Team, 2007-Present
  • Court Watch New Orleans, Advisory Board Member
  • More...

Distinctions

  • Martindale-Hubbell®
    • AV® – Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated, 2003-Present
    • AV® – Preeminent™ Attorney – Judicial, 2019
    • AV® – Preeminent™ Attorney – Top 1%, 2019
  • Commander (O-5), U.S. Navy Reserve, 1985-2005 (NCIS Officer-Agent)
  • Torch of Liberty Award, Anti-Defamation League, 2010
  • Superintendent’s Special Achievement Award, New Orleans Police Department, 2012, 2015
  • Special Appreciation Award, Sheriff Newell Normand, 2015
  • Champion Award, New Orleans Family Justice Center, 2013
  • Criminal Justice Lifetime Achievement Award, Crimestoppers, 2013
  • Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award, Victims and Citizens Against Crime, 2013
  • Commandant’s Meritorious Public Service Award/Medal, United States Coast Guard, 2013
  • More...

Education & Honors

  • Tulane University, J.D., 1979
  • University of New Orleans, B.A., Communications, 1976

Experience

  • Jim consults and provides representation on criminal and regulatory investigations by government agencies, as well as government audits, civil fraud cases and international trade and regulatory issues, including establishment of FCPA/UK Bribery Act corporate compliance and integrity programs, and training and monitoring for police and sheriff's departments on constitutional policing, as well as complex litigation.
  • Deputy Monitor, Court-Appointed: City of Memphis/Memphis Police Department Federal Consent Decree (with Monitor, Ed Stanton – Butler Snow) (2018-Present)
  • Assistant Dean, Experiential Learning, Tulane University School of Law (2013-2016): Responsible for oversight, development and expansion of all skills-based educational components of the law school, including moot court, law clinics, student externships, Intersession intensive training “boot camp”, trial advocacy program, capstone and skills-based legal courses and other related programs.
  • United States Attorney (2001-2012): Served continuously as the longest serving United States Attorney in the nation with almost 12 years continuous service.
  • First Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana (1994-2001): Supervised the daily operations of the United States Attorney's office. Additionally, served as the lead prosecutor in the investigation and four-month jury trial resulting in the conviction of former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards.
  • Trial Attorney and Chief, US Department of Justice Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force, New Orleans, Louisiana (1982-1989): Strike Force cases involved complex criminal (RICO) offenses and investigations over5 states, principally traditional organized crime (La Cosa Nostra/ Mafia), as well as labor racketeering, drug cartels, violent interstate/international gangs, and emerging/non-traditional/international organized crime.
  • Assistant District Attorney, New Orleans District Attorneys Office (1980-1982, 1985-1986): Senior Assistant DA in 1981;Special Prosecutions (primarily corruption) in 1985 – 1986; Prosecuted all types of criminal cases, from misdemeanors to capital and complex white-collar and corruption offenses, including both political and law enforcement corruption.
  • Military Experience
    • Retired Commander, U.S. Naval Reserve, 1984-2004
    • Served as a fully-credentialed NCIS Agent and Foreign Counter-Intelligence Officer (both Cold War and post-Cold War)
    • Assignments over 20 years included:
      • Squadron Intelligence Officer
      • Foreign Counter-Intelligence Officer assigned to both the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Office of Naval Intelligence
      • Fully-Credentialled NCIS Agent, with street counter-drug operations, numerous Presidential and Vice-Presidential Protective Service Details, and Counter neo-Nazi force protection in Europe
      • At U.S. European Command in Germany, drafted initial framework for permanent International War Crimes Tribunal

Papers, Presentations, & Publications

  • Author, “DOJ’s Yates Memorandum 5 Years Down the Road: Alive but is it Kicking? FCPA Enforcement of Individuals Post-‘Yates’,” ACC TN Q2 Newsletter, June 2020.
  • Speaker, “Recent Developments and Trends in the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and Global Anti-Corruption Efforts,” 10th Annual Conference of Yale Law School’s New Haven School of Jurisprudence and International Law, Hangzhou, China, June 2019. 
  • Panelist, “Current Trade Dispute Between the U.S. and China and Its Implications for Other Countries and Global Trade,” 10th Annual Conference of Yale Law School’s New Haven School of Jurisprudence and International Law, Hangzhou, China, June 2019. 
  • Speaker, “Crisis Response and Continuity of Operations,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Architecture and Planning, November 19, 2018.
  • Co-Author, “Customs System and the Law, Foreign Trade System and Law and Foreign Direct Investment System and Law,” Essentials of the Laws of the Belt and Road Countries – Australia, U.K., U.S., 2017.
  • ​Author, “The U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Importance of Anti-corruption Efforts in Trade Globalization,” International Law Perspective of the Belt and Road Initiative, 2015.
  • Regular presenter and planner at the University of Texas Law School’s Government Enforcement Institute (GEI), speaks and moderates on relevant topics related to issues on corporate compliance and fraud.
  • Co-Author, “U.S. Laws Affecting International Trade,” for an international publication in Chinese, English and other languages, as part of the “One Belt One Road Initiative,” 2016.
  • Author,The Yates Memo: What New Challenges to Expect,” Law 360, 2016.
  • More...