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Shirley U. Emehelu

Shirley U. Emehelu

Member West Orange, NJ   New York, NY  

Shirley U. Emehelu, former Chief of Asset Recovery and Anti-Money Laundering for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, leverages her extensive firsthand trial experience and understanding of prosecutorial strategy to represent individuals and companies in connection with complex financial crimes litigation – including money laundering, fraud, and tax law and Bank Secrecy Act claims – and related enforcement, asset forfeiture, and third-party asset recovery actions.

As a co-leader of the firm’s Banking & Finance Group, she works closely with executives, compliance officers and in-house counsel to develop proactive compliance plans in accordance with the regulatory frameworks promulgated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

From 2017 to 2019, Shirley served as Chief of the Asset Recovery and Anti-Money Laundering Unit for the District of New Jersey, where she had statewide responsibility for federal asset forfeiture, money laundering, victim restitution, and federal judgment enforcement matters and prosecuted the forfeiture of the proceeds and instrumentalities of a broad array of crimes including complex white-collar fraud, health care fraud, drug trafficking, firearms, child exploitation, and defense contractor fraud matters. She previously served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney from 2010 to 2017 in the Criminal and Special Prosecutions Divisions, where she investigated and prosecuted significant financial crime and public corruption cases.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Shirley worked as a litigation associate in the New York office of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where her practice focused on internal corporate investigations, federal grand jury and regulatory investigations, corporate compliance and complex commercial litigation.

Shirley served as an Adjunct Professor at Montclair State University in the Fall of 2014, where she taught White Collar Crime in the University’s Justice Studies department. She clerked for the Honorable James R. Spencer in the Eastern District of Virginia.

  • Yale Law School (J.D., 2003)
  • Yale University (B.A., with distinction, 2000)
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Connecticut
  • U.S. District Court, Southern and Eastern Districts of New York
  • U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit
  • New Jersey Law Journal, Innovator of the Year (2021)
  • ROI-NJ, Most Influential DEI Leaders (2021)
  • ROI-NJ, Influencers: People of Color List (2020-2021)
  • Best Lawyers "Ones to Watch," Commercial Litigation (2021-2022)

Award Methodology

  • New York City Bar Association – Member, Compliance Committee
  • Women’s White Collar Defense Association, New Jersey Chapter

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