M. Rhett DeHart is a member of the Firm’s White Collar and Government Investigations Team and Healthcare Sector. Before joining Womble, Rhett was the Acting United States Attorney in South Carolina, capping a 20-year career as a Federal Prosecutor. He focuses on representing companies and individuals in criminal and civil actions involving bank fraud, healthcare fraud, the False Claims Act, customs and import fraud, securities fraud, environmental crimes, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and internal investigations. As Acting U.S. Attorney, Rhett was the Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer in a state with 5.2 million people and led a team of 165 professionals with offices in Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Florence.

During his tenure as Acting U.S. Attorney, Rhett successfully oversaw numerous high-profile criminal and civil cases, including an $11 billion securities fraud case involving the state’s largest utility company, a $140 million False Claims Act suit involving health care providers, and a $30 million investment fraud involving a coastal real estate development. As Acting U.S. Attorney and First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Rhett led a state task force to prosecute fraud related to COVID-19 relief programs, including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).   

Rhett is an experienced and respected litigator, having handled hundreds of federal cases. He has tried more than 25 cases to verdict, authored more than 35 appellate briefs, and argued eight cases before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Throughout his career, he has focused on white-collar cases. Rhett worked closely with every major federal and state law enforcement agency, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Customs Service (ICE), and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Rhett’s experience with the Justice Department and federal and state law enforcement agencies provides his clients – whether companies or individuals –  with unique advantages in defending criminal, civil, and administrative actions.

Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Rhett was Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, D.C., where he was the lead counsel for criminal legislation for the Chairman of the Committee. Rhett graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he was inducted into the Order of the Coif. He received his undergraduate degree in International Studies from the Honors College of the University of South Carolina, where he graduated magna cum laude. He is a member of the National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys, the South Carolina Bar, and the Federal Bar Association.

Professional & Civic Engagement

  • National Association of Former U.S. Attorneys
  • Federal Bar Association
  • South Carolina Bar Association
  • Charleston County Bar Association

Media Mentions

Rhett has been quoted or featured in CNN, Reuters, U.S. News World & Report, Dateline, Daily Mail, Charlotte Observer, Washington Times, and every major media outlet in South Carolina. Samples of media coverage include: 

Thought Leadership

Publications

  • Co-Author, “DOJ Signals Expanded Use of Independent Monitors for Corporate Criminal Enforcement,” Corporate Compliance Insights, June 8, 2022
  • Co-Author (with Matthew R. Hubbell), “Covid Fraud Enforcement: What You and Your Clients Need to Know”, Duffy and Young, Febuary 2022
  • Author, “Is the Exclusionary Rule Doomed?,” South Carolina Lawyer, March 2015
  • Co-Author (with E. Bart Daniel, Matthew R. Hubbell, Joseph P. Griffith, Jr., and Tracy A. Meyers), “Federal and State Securities Enforcement”, South Carolina Bar, 2008
  • Co-Author, (with Edwin Meese III) “Big Brother on the Beat: The Expanding Federalization of Crime”, Texas Review of Law & Politics, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 1997

Presentations

  • Panelist, Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP’s First Annual Health Care Fraud Symposium, March 14, 2023
  • Co-Presenter, "Best Practices for Internal Investigations," The Association of Corporate Counsel South Carolina Annual Meeting, September 16, 2022

Honors and Awards

  • Recognized in Charleston Business Magazine's Legal Elite, Corporate Investigations, White Collar, 2023
  • U.S. Attorney’s Award, 2006, 2009, 2014

Representative Experience

  • Represented international investor against a cryptocurrency company in a week-long trial in the District of Delaware
  • Represented an elected official and obtained an immunity agreement in the Special Counsel’s investigation into the 2020 Presidential election in the District of Columbia
  • Represented an engineering firm and obtained a declination in a criminal investigation by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) 
  • Represented an investor in an insider trading investigation and obtained a declination in a criminal prosecution in the Southern District of New York and a civil declination from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
  • Represented the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a Utility Company in a breach of contract case and obtained a favorable settlement in the District of South Carolina
  • Represented defense contractor corporation and obtained a favorable settlement in a False Claims Act case in the Northern District of Iowa 
  • Represented physician and obtained a settlement in a False Claims Act case in the District of South Carolina
  • Represented skilled nursing facilities and obtained a dismissal in a False Claims Act case in the District of Columbia
  • Represented a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) in a felony prosecution and obtained probation in the District of South Carolina 
  • Conducted internal investigations for an international manufacturer, a national bank, and other Womble Bond Dickinson clients