Photo of Markus Funk

Markus Funk, who from 2016 - 2021 served as the firmwide chair of the White Collar & Investigations practice, is a decorated former federal prosecutor in Chicago, and a former section chief with the U.S. State Department-Balkans. He earned a PhD (DPhil) in law from Oxford University, where he started his career as a lecturer in law. In 2021, Chambers ranked him “Band 1” for Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations - Colorado and also included him in the rankings for FCPA - USA - Nationwide (a first for a lawyer based in Colorado/the Rocky Mountain Region).

In private practice since 2010, Markus focuses on internal investigations, complex commercial litigation both at the trial and appellate levels, white collar criminal defense, corporate social responsibility and supply chain compliance, and corporate counseling. He was selected to serve as a World Bank Group advisor and monitor to an Africa-based company seeking reinstatement following debarment, and he routinely counsels clients and conducts internal investigations and reviews throughout the world. During his time in public service, Markus and his team prosecuted "Operation Family Secrets," which National Public Radio lauded as "one of the most important criminal investigations . . . in American history" (the 1995 movie “Casino” was based on the charged criminal activities). At the time of his departure from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Chicago Sun-Times described Markus as a "street-smart prosecutor with an Oxford pedigree."

Markus also is the founding co-chair of Perkins Coie's Supply Chain Compliance practice and in 2015 was tapped to head up the firm’s Africa Practice. The recipient of numerous awards, he was named Colorado’s “Best Overall Litigator” (2015); “Colorado White Collar Lawyer of the Year” (2015); one of “10 Best Attorneys for the State of Illinois" (2014) and "10 Best Attorneys for the State of Colorado" (2017); and "Lawyer of the Year" (2013). He co-founded the ABA’s Global Anti-Corruption Committee in 2010 and has chaired the section since then. He is also ranked “Band 1” by Chambers and Partners, who in their 2019 assessment quoted one of Markus’ clients, saying “his knowledge and experience base far surpasses any other attorney that we have worked with and he is always extremely thorough and proactive, enabling us to get well ahead of any situation at hand.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is poised to issue what could be a monumental decision in the Court’s Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) jurisprudence as applied to the nation’s opioid epidemic. At issue in Ruan v. United States is the requisite intent the government must prove to convict a physician under the CSA for the unlawful distribution of controlled substances. 

The outcome in Ruan could have significant implications for prescribers, including whether their risk of criminal liability is actually higher than a narcotics trafficker distributing heroin or cocaine. More specifically, to convict a drug trafficker, federal prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the trafficker knowingly and intentionally manufactured, transported, or distributed narcotics. If the government prevails in Ruan, the government would de facto have to show only that a prescribing physician was negligent in misprescribing opioids.

Concerns about ever-expanding prosecutorial discretion and the erosion of the criminal law’s traditional “guilty mind” requirement have focused significant attention on the case.

A Mini Survey of the CSA’s Statutory Scheme

Per the implementing regulations of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1), a physician may lawfully prescribe controlled substances only if they are prescribed for “a legitimate medical purpose by an individual practitioner acting in the usual course of his professional practice.” Even a first-time offender could face decades in prison for misprescribing a Schedule II controlled substance, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, or fentanyl, in violation of the CSA.

The Government’s Case Against Dr. Ruan

In 2016, a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Dr. Xiulu Ruan, a Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”)-registered pain management physician, with, among other things, “knowingly and unlawfully distribut[ing] and dispens[ing] . . . Schedule II Controlled Substances . . . outside the usual course of professional medical practice and not for a legitimate medical purpose, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 841(a)(1).”

The government at trial presented evidence that Dr. Ruan and his business partner issued nearly 300,000 controlled substance prescriptions in a four-year period. Some of these prescriptions allegedly were signed without Dr. Ruan even seeing the patient. The government also presented evidence that Dr. Ruan increased prescriptions of a biopharma company’s fentanyl drug a hundredfold after he and his business partner invested in it.

Continue Reading Could It Be Easier to Convict a Doctor Than a Cartel Member? Why the Impending SCOTUS “Pill Mill” Ruling Makes Some Observers Nervous

Following up on a recent Public Chatter blog in a series about internal investigations, note that Federal Rule of Evidence 502(g) states:

(1) “Attorney-client privilege” means the protection that applicable law provides for confidential attorney-client communications; and

(2) “Work-product protection” means the protection that applicable law provides for tangible material (or its intangible equivalent) prepared

Chelsea Curfman and Markus Funk are joined by Professor Mike Koehler, better known as the “FCPA Professor.” In 2009, Koehler launched his “FCPA Professor” blog, described as “the Wall Street Journal concerning all things FCPA-related.” During the conversation he reflects on his professional road to becoming “The FCPA Professor,” tracks the evolution of the blog,

Antitrust lawyers Jon Jacobs and Kevin Schock join host Markus Funk to discuss the fundamental legal principles applicable to no-poach and wage-fixing agreements, explore current government enforcement priorities related to these types of agreements, and evaluate examples of recent enforcement activity in the no-poach and wage-fixing space.

Listen to “Criminal Antitrust Enforcement in Labor Markets

This episode’s guest is Cam Simpson. Cam is an award-winning writer and investigative journalist who has focused on supply chain, corruption, and forced labor and trafficking issues. He is the senior international correspondent for Bloomberg Businessweek in London and Bloomberg News. Previously, he worked for The Wall Street Journal, with posts in the Middle East

In this episode, we discuss management’s view of compliance and legal functions with Jim Stutelberg, president of primary products at Tate & Lyle, PLC, a U.K.-headquartered, global supplier of food and beverage ingredients. Partners Markus Funk and Gina LaMonica talk to Jim about his experience at Tate & Lyle and discuss how white collar practitioners

Markus Funk and Kevin Feldis speak with Corey Norton, Vice President for Supply Chain Legality at the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), about the important role that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can play in corporate supply chain compliance. NGOs have both outside credibility and an insiders on-the-ground understanding of local supply chain issues that can be invaluable

Using the power of music and videos to make math fun and accessible, the Nashville-based education technology (edtech) company Muzology challenges students to learn and retain the math concepts critical to their progress.  In this podcast, Muzology co-founders Lana Israel, Ph.D. and Bob Doyle join host Markus Funk to discuss their disruptive platform, the significant

White Collar Briefly host, Markus Funk, chair of Perkins Coie’s White Collar & Investigations Practice, welcomes two Chicago-based guests. Jeremy Gottschalk is general counsel for Sittercity.com, an online marketplace for childcare providers. The Hon. Virginia M. Kendall of the U.S. District Court for the District of Northern Illinois is a former federal prosecutor and one

In Part 2 of our examination of internal investigation trends in India, Perkins Coie partners Markus Funk and Chelsea Curfman speak with Arpinder Singh, a partner with EY Forensics & Integrity Services and head of their India and Emerging Markets group. Topics discussed include trends in both the subject matter and scope of internal investigations