Samy Khalil

Samy has nearly 20 years of experience handling investigations, trials, and appeals in all areas of federal criminal law. As a former Assistant Federal Public Defender, Samy knows what it means to represent the interests of those accused or under investigation for a crime. He has first-chaired numerous federal trials and argued multiple appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. His cases have included grand jury investigations; bankruptcy and mortgage fraud; tax and health care fraud; money laundering; false statements; domestic and foreign bribery; immigration; import-export sanctions; and mail and wire fraud. He also conducts corporate and internal investigations and handles select civil litigation, including False Claims Act cases.

As described in Chambers USA 2020, Samy has “excellent judgment” and “wins praise for his sophisticated representation of clients in criminal trials and investigations by the DOJ and SEC.”  He has been named a “Super Lawyer” and is listed in “Best Lawyers in America” for White-Collar Criminal Defense. In 2017, he was appointed by Chief Judge Lee Rosenthal to chair the Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel in the Southern District of Texas. In 2018-2019, he served as chair of the Criminal Law Section of the Houston Bar Association.

Samy is a member of the Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association. He is a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and a Board Member of the Texas Defender Service.


JD, 2002 (Member, Texas Law Review)

MA, International Relations, with honors, 1999

BA, Political Science, with honors, 1996

Prior Associations




Southern District of Texas, 2003-2010


Representative Matters

FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) / International Business

  • Successful representation of Iraqi businessman in Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigation by DOJ concerning financial transactions in the Middle East.
  • In SEC civil case, successful defense of Noble oil-drilling executive charged with violating the FCPA in Nigeria.
  • In parallel civil and criminal FCPA investigations, successful representation of former CFO of major oil field services company working in Angola and Latin America.
  • In federal civil action, successful defense of KBR employees accused of serious crimes at military-contractor base in Iraq.
  • Defense of Iranian businessman indicted under the US-Iran sanctions. The client received a Presidential Pardon in the 2016 “prisoner swap” over the “Iran nuclear deal.”

Company Internal Investigations

  • Internal investigation of federal employment-discrimination claims on behalf of national home-improvement company accused of violations by the EEOC.
  • Representation of major US companies in civil and criminal investigations by the Texas Attorney General‘s Office. A civil case involved “consumer fraud” allegations by a major retailer of home goods. One criminal investigation alleged bribery by an international security company of state officials to secure a lucrative construction contract—no charges were brought.

Financial Fraud

  • Successful defense of beverage company sales manager in SEC “insider trading” investigation.
  • Representation of Florida businessman in “pump and dump” stock scheme alleged by DOJ.
  • Defense of oil and gas executive accused of $40 million theft of natural gas liquids. In October 2019, the client received a 10-month sentence in the Northern District of Texas.


  • Successful representation of numerous healthcare executives and companies under investigation by DOJ and other federal agencies.
  • Successful defense of pharmacy owner in parallel False Claims Act case and DOJ prosecution in the Western District of Texas.


  • Samy helped to win the dismissal of “manslaughter” charges arising from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill – partly on arguments that the “manslaughter” statute in question did not apply “extraterritorially,” that is, not on a rig located in international waters, 50 miles offshore.
  • Successful representation of individuals and businesses in environmental investigations by DOJ and the Harris County District Attorney‘s Office.


  • Defense of the “IFCO” immigration-hiring case, resulting in DOJ’s dismissal of all felony charges against the company’s Vice President for Human Resources.
  • Civil DOJ investigation involving the hiring of “H2B” visa workers from Mexico.

Federal Dismissals, Acquittals & Compassionate Release

  • In 2016, Samy won a rare dismissal of all charges in an indictment alleging “money laundering” concerning sales of goods to Mexico. The federal court found a statute-of-limitations violation.
  • Dismissal of several federal criminal cases after filing “motions to suppress” evidence based on Fourth Amendment violations.
  • Federal acquittal at trial of charge alleging assault of a flight attendant.
  • Clemency petition on behalf of federal defendant who received 20-year mandatory minimum sentence. In 2016, the President of the United States granted clemency, and the sentence was reduced to time served after completion of a residential drug treatment program.
  • Samy has won “compassionate release” under First Step Act for three federal inmates in 2019 after BOP neglected their medical care.  The cases originated in the Southern District of Texas, Eastern District of Texas, and Northern District of Indiana. Read more about this here.

Federal Appeals (Direct & Habeas)

  • Successful appeal of a range of issues in federal criminal cases, including sentencing.
  • Federal and state habeas appeal of Texas death-penalty case—Samy has uncovered hidden evidence and is litigating for a new trial. Read more about Rob Will’s case in the Houston Chronicle (October 3, 2018; April 2, 2012) and the New York Times.

Publications & Awards

  • Ranked in the Chambers USA 2020 legal directory in Band 3 of the “Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations” category for Texas.
  • Recognized as a leading practitioner in “Best Lawyers in America” (Woodward White, Inc.) for White-Collar Criminal Defense (2016-2020).
  • Selected as a “Super Lawyer” (2017-2020) and a “Rising Star” (2013-2014) in White-Collar Criminal Defense, Super Lawyers (Thomson Reuters).
  • Samy has given presentations on white-collar crime, particular federal offenses, and various aspects of federal sentencing. In 2016, he presented on the DOJ‘s “Yates Memo” at the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers “White-Collar Conference.”
  • Samy has published “Doing the Impossible: Appellate Reweighing of Harm and Mitigation in Capital Cases After Williams v. Taylor, With a Special Focus on Texas,” Texas Law Review (2001).