Michael Ronickher is a partner in the Washington, DC, office of Constantine Cannon LLP. He represents a broad range of whistleblowers, including in healthcare, defense, and financial frauds, with a particular specialty in representing tax whistleblowers. For his work, Mr. Ronickher was recognized in 2019 as a Law360 Rising Star.
Mr. Ronickher currently represents numerous whistleblowers in sealed litigations under federal and state False Claims Acts, where he helps clients navigate the sometimes-confusing process and helps the government investigate the alleged frauds. These cases range from government contracting violations stemming from substandard materials or cybersecurity failings to various healthcare billing frauds involving everything from unbundling fraud to Medicare Part C and the Anti-Kickback Statute. In 2019, Mr. Ronickher’s client James Glenn became the first-ever successful cybersecurity whistleblower when he settled his case alleging that Cisco Systems had knowingly sold video surveillance equipment with serious security flaws to various federal, state, and local government agencies.
Mr. Ronickher also draws on a near-decade of experience as a Trial Attorney in the Tax Division of the Department of Justice to represent numerous whistleblowers who have used the IRS’s whistleblower program to expose tax fraud or avoidance. These whistleblowers have brought forward information about a wide range of schemes that add up to billions of dollars in tax avoidance. Professor Diane Ring, who brings a deep knowledge of tax law, and Bob Gardner, who brings first-hand experience at the IRS Whistleblower Office, are key collaborators in this process.
Mr. Ronickher’s representation of tax whistleblowers does not end at the IRS. He currently represents clients in several U.S. Tax Court cases challenging IRS whistleblower award determinations.
Mr. Ronickher also represents a prominent government whistleblower, Simon Edelman, whom we allege was fired from the Department of Energy after providing photos to the press that contradicted the Secretary of Energy’s story about a meeting with a coal industry lobbyist. Along with John Tye of Whistleblower Aid, he represents the whistleblower pro bono in his retaliation claims before the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, as reported in the New Yorker.
Drawing on his false claims and tax experience, Mr. Ronickher testified in 2018 in favor of efforts to remove the tax loophole in the District of Columbia’s False Claims Act. Along with Eric Havian, he has repeatedly been published on the need for an anti-money laundering (AML) whistleblower program. He has also served as a conference speaker on tax law issues.
Prior to joining Constantine Cannon, Mr. Ronickher served as lead counsel on numerous complex and high-profile litigations at DOJ. As a result, Mr. Ronickher has deep experience with every phase of the most complicated litigation, including in cases involving complex tax avoidance or reduction schemes. For example, he helped develop the government’s defense against so-called “previously taxed income” (PTI) tax shelters that were being used to shelter the income from $870 million, and he served on a trial team that successfully challenged $115 million in deductions from SILO (Sale-In, Lease-Out) tax shelter transactions.
At DOJ, Mr. Ronickher worked closely with the IRS Whistleblower Office to defend it in a case involving a tax whistleblower’s tip that potentially pointed to over $500 million in tax fraud. Mr. Ronickher also defended a challenge to the IRS’s Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR) Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program.
Mr. Ronickher additionally spear-headed the Tax Division’s litigation concerning the Section 1603 grant program, which provided a federal subsidy for clean-energy investments. He independently handled the first such case to go to trial and later led the Government’s trial team in a $260 million case regarding the valuation of the sale-leaseback of a $1.65 billion wind farm.
While at the Department of Justice, Mr. Ronickher was awarded the Tax Division Outstanding Attorney Award on three separate occasions. He was the recipient of two awards from the IRS: the Mitchell Rogovin Award and the IRS Lucite Award.
Mr. Ronickher is admitted to practice in California and the District of Columbia, as well as in the U.S. Tax Court, U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California and the District of Colorado.
Mr. Ronickher graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where he was a Public Interest Fellow and co-editor of the Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. He completed his undergraduate studies at Dartmouth College, graduating summa cum laude with a degree in Comparative Literature. Prior to law school, he worked as an editor for the life sciences textbook publisher Benjamin Cummings. Mr. Ronickher is proficient in German.