Pamela L. Johnston



Pamela L. Johnston is a trial lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP, where she is a member of the firm’s Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations Practice, the Securities Enforcement & Litigation Practice, and the Health Care Industry Team. Pamela focuses in the areas of False Claims Act and whistleblower investigations and cases, white collar criminal defense, securities enforcement and other government enforcement actions. She represents companies and individuals in parallel civil and criminal proceedings involving a variety of alleged wrongdoing, including submission of false claims, health care fraud, issues in the ambulance industry, insider trading, accounting fraud, other securities fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, structuring, fraud, and other business crimes. She regularly advises large and small ambulance and EMS companies regarding regulatory issues and represents them in False Claims Act and criminal investigations and litigation. She conducts internal investigations for companies. In her purely civil litigation cases, Pamela focuses on cases that typically involve complex legal issues such as securities or accounting issues.


According to Chambers USA, Pamela

[is recognized] as a ‘very effective and hard-working lawyer.’ Sources highlight her strength in healthcare fraud cases, where she applies the experience and gravitas gained during her tenure as a federal prosecutor. Interviewees add: ‘She has great judgment and is tough when she needs to be.’ (Chambers 2018)

[is highlighted] for her ‘impeccable judgment’ and ‘deep knowledge of how the DOJ works.’ (Chambers 2017)

brings strong litigation credentials and expertise to a range of white-collar criminal matters, including securities enforcement and False Claims Act claims. Sources praise Johnston as a ‘really fine lawyer’ who particularly stands out for her ‘tremendous insight’ into the strategies of government agencies. (Chambers 2016)

is one of the best I’ve ever come into contact with. She fought for my case, and I felt the outcome was extremely important to her. (Chambers 2014)

According to Chambers USA, Foley’s white collar team in California is:

[recognized for its] client service [which] shows through in everything they do, from their communications to their advice and work product. As a client, you feel like you get appropriate, personal attention and practical, real-world advice. (Chambers 2018).

[an] accomplished practice with expertise in False Claims Act cases, FCPA matters, and government investigations, alongside firm's signature strengths in healthcare work. Offers niche expertise in representing Latin American and Asian clients in white-collar work. ‘It really is a strong team. They hire common-sense, street-smart lawyers who are all respected in the community.’ (Chambers 2017)

routinely called upon for its noted capabilities in healthcare fraud litigation by clients such as hospitals and ambulance service providers. ‘They have a robust and knowledgeable team in regulated financial markets.’ (Chambers 2016)

excellent. They have been responsive, thorough, and have provided a strong strategy with a cost-effective approach. They were extremely thorough, had very good connectivity to the claim, and knew how to create clarity around it. (Chambers 2014)

[a] superb group [with] a strong track record for its skillful handling of a broad spectrum of securities and white-collar criminal litigation. Foley combines large firm resources with small firm personal care. … Pamela Johnston … is regarded as a ‘fantastic lawyer’ by peers. (Chambers 2013)

From 2012 – 2018 and 2008 – 2009, Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business recognized Pamela for her white-collar and healthcare work. Since 2007, The Best Lawyers in America© has recognized her for her white-collar criminal defense work. From 2007 to 2016, 2018, Southern California Super Lawyers® has recognized her for her white-collar criminal defense work. In 2006, the Daily Journal named Pamela one of California’s Top Women Litigators. As a federal prosecutor, the United States Attorney General twice awarded Pamela the prestigious Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney.

Representative Experience

Pamela's False Claims Act experience involves cases and investigations pertaining to:

  • Alleged violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) and medical billing issues for ambulance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and other health care providers
  • First responder fees / franchise fees and discounting arrangements in the ambulance / EMS industry
  • Off-label marketing of pharmaceuticals
  • Government contracts

Pamela's securities experience involves criminal cases and SEC cases and investigations pertaining to:

  • RMBS / mortgage fraud investigations
  • Insider trading investigations
  • Accounting restatements and litigation
  • Broker-dealer regulatory investigations

The focus of Pamela’s criminal experience in the past five years has been:

  • Money laundering and structuring cases
  • Bank fraud and other types of fraud cases
  • Insider trading cases

Prior to joining Foley, Pamela was a federal prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles for 14 years, where she worked in both the criminal and civil divisions. During her nine years as a criminal Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA), Pamela investigated and prosecuted criminal cases involving securities fraud, accounting fraud, bank fraud, mortgage fraud, mail and wire fraud, and other potential violations of the federal fraud statutes. She worked closely with her counterparts at the SEC on the securities cases. During her last four years as a federal prosecutor, Pamela was a deputy chief of the Criminal Division’s Major Frauds Section. During her first five years as a civil AUSA, Pamela investigated and litigated False Claims Act cases, forfeiture, FIRREA civil penalty and other affirmative civil enforcement actions in federal court. Pamela successfully tried numerous sophisticated fraud cases to jury verdict and argued frequently before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Following law school graduation, she served as a law clerk to the late Honorable Irving L. Goldberg, of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and as a law clerk to the Honorable Truman M. Hobbs, then chief judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.


Pamela received her undergraduate degree in 1984 from the University of California at Davis. She received her law degree in 1987 from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif. Pamela was a founder of and served as the executive editor of the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.


Pamela is admitted to practice in California.

Selected Publications and Presentations

Pamela’s publications and presentations include:

  • “Ambulance Suppliers: CMS Launches ET3 - A New Triage Model for EMS,” Health Care Law Today, Foley Blog (February 27, 2019).
  • Moderator, “Perspectives on DOJ Enforcement: A Focused Discussion with Health Care Criminal and Civil False Claims Act Prosecutors about the Yates Memorandum and Cooperation, Trends, and Issues Occurring in the Parallel Prosecutions of Hospitals, Ambulance Companies, Home Health Companies and Hospice Companies,” HCCA’s Healthcare Enforcement Compliance Institute, (Washington, D.C.) (October 26, 2015).
  • “What to Expect From HHS-OIG's New Litigation Team,” Health Care Law Today, Foley Blog (July 9, 2015).
  • “Responding to a Government Audit,” EMS Insider (April 2015).
  • “The STOCK Act in the ‘Post-Newman’ Era,” Foley & Lardner LLP Legal News: Securities Enforcement & Litigation (April 2015).
  • “A Review of Recent Whistleblower Developments,” Foley & Lardner LLP Legal News: Whistleblower Developments (2014 - 2015).
  • “Roadmap to Prison: Lessons Learned from the Criminal Prosecution of Alpha Ambulance’s Leaders,” Health Care Law Today, Foley Blog (February 23, 2015).
  • “SEC & DOJ Hot Topics 2015,” panel discussion hosted by PWC and Sandpiper Partners LLC, Los Angeles (December 9, 2014).
  • “Investigation of a False Claims Act Case,” ABA’s Tenth National Institute on the Civil False Claims Act and Qui Tam Enforcement (Washington, D.C.) (June 2014).
  • Moderator, “Fraud & Abuse (Enforcement Update),” American Bar Association Health Law Section 15th Annual Conference on Emerging Issues in Healthcare Law (Litchfield Park, AZ) (February 27, 2014).
  • “Confronting the Recent Financial Crisis: FIRREA and Other Governmental Responses,” panel discussion hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter of the ABA White Collar Crime Subcommittee (November 19, 2013).
  • Co-Author, “Attacking Insider Trading and Other White Collar Cases Built on Evidence from Government Wiretaps: The Nuts and Bolts,” Bloomberg BNA’s Criminal Law Reporter (February 13, 2013).
  • Co-Author, "Responding to a Government Subpoena or RFI," The Corporate Counselor, Vol. 26, No. 5 (September 2011).
  • Co-Author, "Government's False Claims Act Complaint Against Major Financial Institution Alleges False Certifications of Compliance with HUD Underwriting Rules," Financial Fraud Law Report, Vol. 3, No. 8 (September 2011).
  • "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – Recent Developments and Trends with an Emphasis on California," SCCE’s West Coast Regional Compliance Conference (San Francisco, CA) (June 24, 2011).
  • Co-Author, "The Decline of Collective Knowledge Doctrine," Law360 (May 10, 2011).
  • "Responding to Government Requests for Information: Lessons Learned from the Indictment of a Former In-House Counsel," discussion hosted by the Health Care Committee of the Association of Corporate Counsel (January 4, 2011).
  • "The False Claims Act: What Recent Developments Mean for Your Clients," panel discussion hosted by the Los Angeles Chapter of the ABA White Collar Crime Subcommittee (November 2010).
  • "Health Care Reform and the False Claims Act: Focus on the 2010 Amendments re: 'Reverse False Claims,'" panel discussion hosted by Law Seminars International (June 22, 2010).
  • "Federal Monitors: What to Expect and How to Avoid Problems," SCCE’s 8th Annual Compliance & Ethics Institute (Las Vegas, NV) (September 15, 2009). 
  • "Enforcement Trends in Securities Case (Criminal and SEC)," Los Angeles Chapter of the ABA White Collar Crime Subcommittee (March 2009).
  • "Fraud & Malfeasance: State and Federal Enforcement," Annual ACC Meeting (Seattle, WA) (October 2008).
  • Co-Author, "Healthcare Compliance Professional's Guide to the False Claims Act" (October 2007).

Representative Matters

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Represented our client in an SEC enforcement action filed in federal district court in San Francisco. The client allegedly tipped material, non-public information to a friend in violation of the insider trading laws. We represented the individual during the government’s investigation (U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to move forward against our client) and the SEC’s investigation (SEC decided to charge the case). Another firm tried the liability phase of the SEC case, resulting in a civil verdict against the individual. Our client hired Foley to represent him during the penalty phase of the trial and in connection with any post-judgment briefing. The last hearing on the penalty phase of the trial was held July 12, 2011. We filed the opening brief in the Ninth Circuit on January 23, 2012.
SEC enforcement matter brought against the former CFO, Todd Crow, of a publicly traded company. The SEC ranked this case in its top five national accounting fraud enforcement matters during "SEC Speaks" in 2011. Foley was counsel for Todd Crow and also represented him in the securities derivatives case that was settled in 2010.
Foley represented Balboa Ambulance in connection with a parallel civil and criminal investigation by the San Diego U.S. Attorney’s Office. Government was looking for a million from our client, but we were able to persuade that $600k was sufficient and obtained a settlement of the False Claims Act case without any admission of liability. Government’s theory was that Balboa swapped discounted rates given to facilities for transports that the facilities were obligated to pay for in return for future Medicare transports which were more profitable. We are still representing the company in connection with the parallel criminal investigation.


Supreme Court Maximizes Statute of Limitations for Relators Suing Under the False Claims Act
31 May 2019
Health Care Law Today
Post-Granston Memo, DOJ Can Use Its Dismissal Authority, but Not Without Limits
16 May 2019
Legal News: Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations
New DOJ Guidance on Cooperation in False Claims Act Cases
15 May 2019
Health Care Law Today
Health Care Company Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Find False Claims Act Unconstitutional
09 May 2019
Legal News: Government Enforcement Defense & Investigations

A Kickback Discussion on Civil and Criminal Trends in Health Care

25 June 2019
Los Angeles, CA
2018 Annual EMSACC Conference
30-31 May 2018
San Diego, CA
International Investigations, Government Enforcement & Compliance Symposium
12 October 2017
Chicago, IL
Health Care Compliance Association's (HCCA) 2015 Healthcare Enforcement Compliance Institute
25 October 2015
Washington, D.C.