Mark W. PugsleyFounder and Partner
Mark Pugsley has been handling securities disputes, financial fraud and whistleblower cases for 28 years. His whistleblower practice includes preparing and filing whistleblower tips with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), he also handles False Claims Act or “Qui Tam” lawsuits, FINRA arbitrations and other types of investment disputes.
Mark is based in our Utah office, the state which boasts the largest number of Ponzi schemes per capita in the country. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers, Best Lawyers, Benchmark Plaintiffs, and Martindale Hubbell as one of the top securities lawyers in the country. He is licensed to practice law in Utah and California.
Mark represents whistleblowers in a number of high-profile ongoing cases, including the whistleblowers in the Washakie Renewable Energy scam in which executives pleaded guilty to criminal charges in a $1 billion biodiesel tax fraud scheme. He also represents the whistleblowers in the Nikola Motors case who uncovered widespread fraud by the CEO, Trevor Milton. The whistleblower report to the SEC in the Nikola case led to a $125 million settlement by the company with the SEC, and Mr. Milton was charged civilly and criminally with securities fraud, among other charges. Another of his whistleblower clients uncovered an ongoing $200 million Ponzi scheme that led to civil and criminal actions by the DOJ, SEC and State regulators. These cases are ongoing.
Significant recoveries for his whistleblower, investment fraud and FINRA Arbitration clients include the following:
- Representation of two whistleblowers in an SEC whistleblower case that was approved for an award in April of 2021. His clients were awarded 30% of the $9,384,253 in ordered fines and penalties – the maximum award possible.
- Represented the Declarant in a whistleblower case filed against Vivint Smart Home Inc.. On January 6, 2021 the Justice Department announced that Vivint had agreed to pay the United States $3.2 million to resolve the case. His client will receive a significant reward.
- Represented a client in an $11 million CFTC whistleblower case that was approved for an award in January of 2020. His client will receive a significant portion of all restitution and civil penalties collected by the CFTC.
- Representation of three clients in a 5-day trial in Utah State Court where his clients were awarded compensatory damages in excess of $3 million, $2 million in punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.
- Represented a bankruptcy trustee and trustee of a private actions trust pursuing the claims of over 400 victims of a Ponzi scheme against a national life insurance company for securities fraud and the negligent employment of the agents who perpetrated the scheme for over a decade. The parties reached an 8-figure settlement in 2018.
- Represented 15 clients in a FINRA arbitration case alleging more than $6 million in out of pocket damages involving a rogue broker from a national brokerage firm. The firm settled the case shortly before the arbitration hearing in August of 2018 for a confidential amount.
- Represented 28 clients in a case alleging more than $10 million in out of pocket damages involving a broker who was employed by a national brokerage firm. The case was settled for a confidential sum that resulted in substantial recovery of his clients’ losses.
In addition to his whistleblower practice, Mark has been litigating securities disputes for his entire legal career. He has also handled many FINRA arbitration cases and frequently goes to court to pursue claims for victims of fraud.
Prior to founding the law firm of Pugsley & Wood, Mark was a shareholder at the law firm of Ray Quinney & Nebeker in Salt Lake City, where he worked for 23 years. Mark is a recognized expert in the area of securities fraud and has written and spoken extensively on whistleblower law, Ponzi schemes and affinity fraud for many years.
Mr. Pugsley has been recognized by the following rating publications:The Best Lawyers in America©: Tier 1 Utah for Securities Law since 2008 in the following categories:
- Litigation – Securities (Lawyer of the Year, Utah in 2016)
- Securities Regulation (Lawyer of the Year, Utah in 2013)
- Corporate Law
- Highly recommended for Securities Litigation (2010-2022)
- Top 100 in Mountain States Region (2012)
- Rated as “Highly Recommended” for Securities Litigation
- Listed as one of Utah’s “Legal Elite” in the category of Civil Litigation since 2004.
- AV Preeminent (5.0) rating.
J.D., Duke University School of Law, 1994
Duke Law Journal, Editorial Board
Jessup Cup International Moot Court Team
M.A., Public Policy, Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, 1994
B.S., Political Science, University of Utah, 1991
Utah State Bar
California State Bar
Federal Bar Association
American Bar Association
Taxpayers Against Fraud
Standing Committee Member, TAFEF SEC/CFTC Committee
The Public Investors Advocate Bar Association
- Arbitrator, National Futures Association (2020-present)
- Commissioner, Utah State Bar (2018 - 2021)
- Member of the National Association of Federal Equity Receivers (2014-2020)
- Member of the National Society of Compliance Professionals (2011-2019)
- Member of the Securities Advisory Board for the State of Utah (2006-2009)
- Utah Securities Association, Founder
- Chair of the Securities Section of the Utah State Bar (2006-2007)
- Executive Committee Member of the Salt Lake County Bar Association (2005-2010)
- Advisory Board Member to the Utah Division of Securities on the Uniform Securities Act of 2002
- Arbitrator with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) (formerly NASD) (1999-2012)
- Arbitrator with the National Futures Association (NFA) (2020-present)
- Executive Board Member, Globus Relief (2001-2006 and 2020-present)
- Utah State Bar Young Lawyers’ Division Board Member (1999-2001)
- Salt Lake City Citizens Review Board member (1999-2002)
- Board Member, United Way of the Great Salt Lake Area (1989-1990)
- Speaker: "Ponzi Schemes and Affinity Fraud" at a meeting of the Southern Utah Bar Association (December 2021)
- Moderator: "Ethics and Defamation: The Pitfalls of Communicating with Potential Clients through Blogs and Direct Solicitations" at the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association Annual Convention (October 2021)
- Panelist: " Litigating in Different Forums: JAMS, AAA, FINRA and Court" at the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association Mid-year Convention (April 2021)
- Panelist: "Whistleblowers: Endangered Canaries or Bounty Hunters?" at the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association Annual Convention (October 2020)
- Speaker: "How to Spot Ponzi Schemes and Affinity Fraud - And What You Can Do About It" at RQN's 30th Annual Tax & Business Seminar (October 2019)
- Panel Moderator: "How Receiverships Can Create Additional Recoveries for Victims of Fraud" at the Annual Meeting of the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association (October 2019)
- Panelist: "Building Your Own Book of Business: Marketing Yourself and Your Firm" to the Litigation Section of the Utah State Bar (January 2019)
- Panel Moderator: "Law Firm Marketing: What Works and What Doesn't" at the Annual Meeting of the Public Investors Advocate Bar Association (October 2017)
- Presentation on whistleblower law with Jane Norberg, Chief, Office of the Whistleblower, S. Securities and Exchange Commission at the Summer Convention of the of the Utah State Bar (July 2017)
- Presentation: Recent Developments in FINRA Arbitration, Utah Securities Section's Annual Securities Law Workshop (August 2016)
- Panelist with Sean McKessy, Chief, Office of the Whistleblower, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on the Dodd-Frank Whistleblower Program, sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and the Securities Section of the Utah State Bar (November 2015)
- Presentation on the SEC's Whistleblower Program at the 2015 White Collar Crime Conference sponsored by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (October 2015)
- Panelist: Civil Penalties in SEC Enforcement Actions - What Practitioners and Corporate Counsel Need to Know, sponsored by the Federal Bar Association and the Securities Section of the Utah State Bar (April 2015)
- Authored an article titled "Top Ten Ways to Avoid Losing Money in an Financial Scam" For The Enterprise Magazine (July 2014)
- Presentation to the Utah Financial Planners Association: Affinity Fraud; How to Help Your Clients Avoid Being a Victim (January 2013)
- Presentation: Update on Significant Decisions, Utah Securities Section's Annual Securities Law Workshop (August 2012)
- Workshop Instructor on How to Draft a Securities Complaint, Utah Securities Section's Annual Securities Law Workshop (August 2012)
- Panelist: Litigation Risk in Today's Economy at the Annual Conference of the Real Estate Investors Securities Association (October 2010)
- Author of article in Utah CEO Magazine: The Price of Neglecting Corporate Compliance in the Post-Madoff World (April 2010)
- Speaker: Private Causes of Action under the Utah Uniform Securities Act, CLE sponsored by the Securities Section of the Utah State Bar (March 2010)
- Panelist: Investment Adviser Workshop sponsored by the Utah Division of Securities (June 2009)
- Editorial: Perils of Investing with Friends and Ward Members as published in the Salt Lake Tribune (December 2008)
- Moderator: Panel Discussion on Regulatory Enforcement Issues at the 2006 Securities Law Workshop, sponsored by the Securities Section of the Utah State Bar (August 2006)
- Presentation: "The Regulators are Watching: How to Survive Increasing Securities Regulation and Litigation" before the Salt Lake Estate Planning Council's 2005 Fall Institute
- Presentation: "Recent 9th and 10th Circuit Securities Decisions" at the Utah Securities Section's Securities Law Workshop (August 2004 and August 2005)
- Presentation: "NASD Arbitration" at CLE seminar on Securities Practice sponsored by the Utah State Bar (October 2003)
- Moderator of Panel Discussion on Ethical Issues for Securities Attorneys under SEC Rule 205 at the 26th Annual Securities Law Workshop, sponsored by the Securities Section of the Utah State Bar (August 2003)
- Speaker at CLE seminar "Stockbroker Fraud in Utah," sponsored by the National Business Institute (October 1999)
- Article: "Ninth Circuit Confirms the CFTC Does Not Have Jurisdiction Over Off-Exchange Foreign Currency Transactions," Securities Law Roundup, Winter 1997
- Article: "Brokerage Firm Policies Governing the Use of Internet and E-mail by Associated Persons," Compliance Reporter, Institutional Investor, Inc., March 31, 1997
- Law Journal Note: "Non Smoking Hiring Policies: Examining the Status of Smokers Under Title I of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990", 43 Duke Law Journal 1089
- Utah State and Federal Courts
- California State and Federal Courts
- Colorado Federal Courts
- United States Supreme Court
- Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
- Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals