Marissel Descalzo, Partner
Marissel Descalzo is a trial attorney and focuses her practice on complex criminal and civil litigation in both federal and state court. Ms. Descalzo has participated in numerous trials to verdict. Ms. Descalzo handles criminal and civil matters of vital importance to clients’ businesses or their personal lives. She represents individuals and organizations accused of fraud and/or deceptive practices, and assists and advises organizations on corporate governance and compliance matters, including in the area of anti-money laundering. Ms. Descalzo represents hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, pharmacies, and other health care providers, during government investigations and defends them in qui tam (whistle-blower) actions. Ms. Descalzo regularly counsels companies from a variety of industries on the adoption and operation of their compliance programs and, in particular, assists companies in the food and beverage industry with internal investigations and ethics issues.
Ms. Descalzo also represents victims of fraud in federal criminal proceedings during all stages of the criminal process. She has a unique service helping victims—whether businesses or individuals—present criminal cases to prosecutors. Most importantly, she represents victims during the sentencing and restitution proceedings in order to optimize the return of the victim’s funds.
Finally, she has significant experience working with companies in connection with data security and privacy issues. She leads teams responding to data breaches and works with companies and law enforcement investigating potential threats to patient privacy and security.
University of Miami School of Law (J.D., 2003), magna cum laude
Florida International University (B.A., 2000)
Qui Tam/Whistleblower Defense
White Collar Crime and Government Investigations
Florida State Courts
U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida
U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida
U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit
U.S. Tax Court
Represented large company in the financial industry’s sector in civil action against employee that embezzled millions of dollars in business opportunities. Won and collected a multi-million dollar judgment on behalf of the company.
Second chair in an anti-trust criminal trial that resulted in a mistrial.
Represented father and son in a tax fraud trial and mitigated sentences after verdict.
Represented individual charged with securities fraud and mitigated sentence after verdict.
Oral Argument in the Florida Third District Court of Appeals that resulted in the reversal of a criminal conviction.
Represented client that was the victim of a scheme to defraud by vendors and former employees. Representation included conducting an internal investigation, making a comprehensive presentation to the government, and providing evidence that ultimately forced the guilty plea of six individuals. Additionally, represented the victim throughout the sentencing process and at a restitution hearing securing a $7 million restitution, which was ultimately collected.
Represented the owners of a pharmacy in a government investigation that was closed.
Represented an individual accused and convicted of fraud and grand theft through an appeal where the conviction was reversed and the charges reduced to a misdemeanor.
Represented the owner of a hospital in a Medicare fraud trial.
Represented hospital in response to a HIPAA breach that was a result of employee data theft. This involved: providing guidance during the investigative phase, including working with local law enforcement; reviewing findings to assist client in determining if breach occurred; and assisting with providing notice to the patients.
Active in the community, Ms. Descalzo provides pro bono counsel to abused and neglected children through Lawyers for Children America. Ms. Descalzo also organizes an annual toy drive for foster children aging out of the foster care system.
Moderator, "Cybersecurity and Data Theft: Increasing Challenges and the Rise of Ransomware," American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section, Miami, FL (August 2016)
Co-Presenter, "Data Security: Best Practices in the Increasingly Likely Event of a Data Breach," GrowFL CEO Roundtable, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (June 2016)
Presenter, "Asset Forfeiture and Freeze Orders: Everything you and John Oliver need to know," ABA's Annual National Institute on White Collar Crime, San Diego, CA (March 2, 2016)
Presenter, "Criminalizing Conduct in the Food Industry: What you and your company need to know about now," 2016 GMA Legal Conference, Rancho Mirage, CA (February, 24, 2016)
Co-Presenter, “Internal Data Theft & Whistleblowers,” South Florida Hospital & Healthcare Association (SFHHA) Workforce Committee Meeting (June 2015)
Moderator, "The Ethics of Internal Investigations, Domestic and Abroad," ABA Food & Supplements Fifth Annual Workshop, Omaha, NE (June 2015)
Panelist, "Looking Ahead: Healthcare Fraud and the False Claims Act in 2015," ABA National Institute on Health Care Fraud, Miami Beach, FL (May 2015)
Panelist, "Emerging Issues in Healthcare Fraud," National Institute on Health Care Fraud (May 13, 2015)
HNBA Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce Conference discussing Affordable Care Act provisions for victims of human trafficking (August 2014)
Antitrust Enforcement and Litigation in the Healthcare Industry, One Beacon Professional Insurance (May 2014)
“Attorney-Client Privilege,” American Bar Association (ABA) Litigation Section Annual Meeting (April 30-May 1, 2009).
"The Role of Privilege in Investigation and Prosecution of Corporations - What do Recent Changes Mean for Practitioners," ABA Section of Litigation Annual Conference (May 1, 2009).
Selected for inclusion in Florida Super Lawyers Rising Stars (2013-2016)
Selected for inclusion in Daily Business Review Rising Stars (2016)
Professional & Civic Activities
American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section Council
Federal Bar Association, co-chair, Federal Bar Association, Women Lawyer’s Initiative
City Leader, Women White Collar Defense Association
Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
Cuban-American Bar Association
Dade County Bar Association