With nearly three decades of criminal and civil litigation experience at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), Gene Rossi leverages the skills he honed as a renowned federal prosecutor to primarily concentrate on matters relating to criminal defense and government investigations as a shareholder in the Firm of Carlton Fields.
Born and raised in Middletown, Connecticut, Gene grew up on a dairy farm and worked in his family’s lumber business – a small company started by his late father in 1925 with a team of horses, a flatbed truck, and a portable sawmill. At age nine, he proudly received his first paycheck (25 cents an hour) from his father, who taught him the value of hard work. That original first paycheck--$1.92 for one day’s work--hangs on the wall of Gene’s office today. When Gene was ten, his father passed away very suddenly--leaving his mother to raise Gene, as well as his three older brothers with whom he ran the business.
Immediately after law school, Gene worked as a Washington Representative for Connecticut Governor Bill O’Neill from 1983-89. In his prolific DOJ career (1989-2016), Gene had more than 110 federal trials (including an unprecedented 90 jury trials) in U.S. District and Bankruptcy Courts. During 1989-2001, he became a senior trial attorney for the Tax Division, where he tried complex civil and criminal matters and served on an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
In 2001, Gene became an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA), which is famously called the “Rocket Docket” and where he led and supervised a vast array of high-profile investigations involving the opioid crisis, OCDETF, murder, health care, tax, immigration, public corruption, terrorism, and the environment. Gene also served as Deputy Chief of the Narcotics Unit; and later as chief of the Specials Unit, where he trained more than 1,000 new prosecutors in the Rocket Docket and at DOJ’s National Advocacy Center. In EDVA alone, he had a record 65 felony jury trials.
His most notable matter included OCDETF Operation “Cotton Candy,” the largest opioid investigation in DOJ history-- with more than 200 convictions of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, patients, and dealers. As part of Cotton Candy, Gene had numerous EDVA trials, including two lengthy jury trials against a prominent pain management doctor (William Hurwitz), who prescribed 1,200 oxycodone pills daily to one patient alone. Gene’s two Dr. Hurwitz trials and other Cotton Candy matters served as the basis for a 2016 Hollywood documentary (“Dr. Feelgood”).
Gene’s other prominent matters during his distinguished DOJ career included a major civil tax trial against a Chicago alderman, the OCDETF trial of a violent murderer (more than 30 deaths), and the prosecution of Commanding General Sekouba Konate of the 54-nation African Union, who pleaded guilty to charges of false statements and smuggling cash into the United States that he had received when he was President of Guinea.
His achievements in the courtroom have earned him a multitude of commendations, including the FBI Washington Field Office’s Career Achievement Award in 2016 — the only time the award has ever been presented to a prosecutor. He is also the recipient of the following DOJ honors: a Tax Division Outstanding Attorney Award in 1993; a Director’s Award in 2005; and a DEA Administrator’s Award for his lead role in Operation Cotton Candy. Moreover, to honor Gene’s historic trial work, EDVA’s Alexandria Office set aside a special conference area in its building—the “Gene Rossi War Room.”
Gene has long had a passion for education beyond the 1,000 DOJ prosecutors whom he trained. He has taught legal writing and ethics at American University Law School, constitutional law and criminal procedure at George Mason University, and trial advocacy at Harvard Law School.
Gene is a dedicated community advocate. He was on the board of directors of D.C. Law Students In Court, a five-school consortium that provides legal aid to tenants and indigent criminal defendants. He serves on the board of Friends of Guest House, a women’s reentry program in his home town of Alexandria, Virginia. In 2017, he ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. In addition to being a long-time youth basketball coach, he is also the founder and commissioner of Alexandria’s “Hoop Madness Club” (more than 250 members), which plays outdoor basketball all year. Gene’s passion for the sport and coaching began when he was very young and a Connecticut All-State player (1,300 career points, including 41 points in one game).
A brief sample of Gene’s work includes his representation of high-profile witnesses in Robert Mueller’s Paul Manafort trial and in the SDNY’s election-fraud investigation involving Michael Cohen and the President. Moreover, he has represented several EDVA clients who were involved in Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking and bank fraud. Last, he has represented pain management doctors accused of wrongdoing related to their medical practices.
He is a frequent legal commentator and trial analyst. He is often quoted in articles and has appeared on many cable and radio shows, including MSNBC, Fox, Law & Crime Network, CNN, Hill TV and several others. Moreover, he has a statewide radio program (“The Gene Rossi Show”) in Richmond, Virginia, on WJFN 100.5 FM (www.wjfnradio.com).
Gene received his J.D. from the American University Law School, his LL.M. from Georgetown University Law Center, and his B.A. from Fairfield University.