Representative Matters

Sergio Acosta is an experienced litigator and investigator who serves as national leader of the firm's Government Practice Group. He is a Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. Mr. Acosta has represented companies, government entities and individuals in high-stakes matters involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, health care fraud, complex financial fraud, criminal tax violations, export regulations and criminal and civil forfeiture. His practice also encompasses corporate governance, corporate internal investigations, regulatory enforcement, commercial litigation and gaming law. Mr. Acosta is a member of the firm's Executive Committee.

Mr. Acosta's experience in overseeing and conducting complex investigations for the federal government puts him in a unique position to advise corporate clients and individuals facing administrative, civil or criminal exposure in regulated industries. This, coupled with his experience in leading a state agency and working closely with federal and state agents, enables him to provide practical advice and counseling at every stage of criminal or parallel civil proceedings.

During his tenure with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois, Mr. Acosta tried more than 25 jury trials in federal court and many appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. As a state prosecutor in Miami, Florida, he tried more than 50 jury trials.  

Professional Background

Before joining Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Mr. Acosta served for seven years as Chief of the General Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois.

In 2016, Mr. Acosta was selected by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve as a co-chair of the Police Accountability Task Force. In 2014, he was appointed by then-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to serve a one-year term on the Illinois Concealed Carry License Review Board. In December 2011, Mr. Acosta was named by Mayor Emanuel to the Mayor's Ethics Reform Task Force, which recommended changes to strengthen the ordinance that governs City officials and employees.

Mr. Acosta's began his career as an Assistant State Attorney in Miami, Florida, under former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.

In 1990, Mr. Acosta joined the U.S. Attorney's Office as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago. He became a Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section in 1994 and remained in that position until leaving the U. S. Attorney's Office in 1999 to become the Administrator of the Illinois Gaming Board.

During his tenure with the Illinois Gaming Board, Mr. Acosta led the agency responsible for the regulation of all aspects of casino gambling in Illinois.

In 2001, Mr. Acosta returned to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Chicago to the Organized Crime Section. In 2003, he was promoted by U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald to serve as Chief of the General Crimes Section, where he remained until joining Hinshaw.

Professional Affiliations

  • American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow
  • Northwestern University School of Law, Adjunct Professor (1998–Present)
  • National Hispanic Prosecutors Association
    • Founding Member (1997)
    • Past President (2001)
  • Hispanic National Bar Association (1994–Present)
  • Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Board Member (2010–2013; 2014–Present)
  • Leadership Greater Chicago, Board Member (2003–2011)

Honors & Awards

  • Selected by his peers for inclusion in "The Best Lawyers in America®" since 2018 for Commercial Litigation
  • Negocios Now's 50 Most Influential Latinos in the Chicago Area (2017)
  • Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, Aguila Award (2016)
  • Named to the National Law Journal's inaugural list of White Collar Crime Trailblazers (2015)
  • Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Social Justice Advocate Award (2014)
  • Selected by his peers as a Leading Lawyer in the areas of Criminal Defense Law: White Collar, and Gaming & Casino Law (2011–Present)
  • U.S. Department of Justice, Director's Award (2011)
  • Chicago Bar Foundation, Richard J. Phelan Public Service Award (2008)

Representative Matters

  • Representation of a senior executive of a Fortune 500 company in federal false claims criminal investigation.
  • Led internal investigation on behalf of U.S. industrial manufacturer into allegations of fraud and embezzlement involving Latin America-based affiliate.  
  • Representation of financial services firm employees in ongoing DOJ, SEC and FINRA investigations.
  • Led an internal investigation on behalf of a U.S.-based multinational company into allegations of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and export control laws involving Chinese affiliate.
  • Representation of a senior executive of a Latin American subsidiary of a Fortune 100 company in ongoing U.S. Department of Justice FCPA investigation.   
  • Drafted Code of Conduct and Anti-Bribery Compliance Program for a U.S.-based industrial manufacturer and exporter.
  • Assisted an international law firm in developing a compliance program regarding U.S. sanctions laws.
  • Served as lead trial counsel representing a hospital executive accused of criminal violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute.
  • Representation of employees of a national health services provider in connection with a federal criminal investigation.
  • Representation of employees of a Fortune 100 company in an ongoing federal criminal investigation involving the FCPA.
  • Representation of independent distributors of a publicly traded company with respect to a consumer fraud investigation.
  • Led the internal investigation for a governmental entity involving allegations of extortion by a public employee.
  • Led an internal investigation on behalf of a school district regarding allegations of criminal abuse of students by district employees.
  • Led an internal investigation on behalf of a school district regarding allegations of embezzlement of millions of dollars by former school district officials.
  • Representation of a business owner in an Internal Revenue Service criminal investigation involving allegations of tax evasion. 
  • Representation of a U.S.-based manufacturer regarding civil commercial bribery allegations.
  • Counsel an elected official to ensure compliance with applicable conflict of interest laws.  
  • Serve as regulatory counsel for an Illinois-based gaming company.


Mr. Acosta's presentations include:

  • Moderator, "Insider Trading: Valuable Tips from the Bar and Bench," Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Chicago, Illinois, March 21, 2018
  • Moderator, "Changing the System | Criminal Justice in Cook County," Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Program Leadership Breakfast Series, Chicago, Illinois, March 15, 2018
  • "School Safety: Crisis Management and Outside Investigations," The 2017 Joint Annual Conference of the Illinois Association of School Boards, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Chicago, Illinois, November 2017
  • "Trade Restrictions and Anti-Corruption Laws: The Realities of Doing Business in Latin America," Miami, Florida, May 9, 2017
  • "Beware Criminal Liability Traps When Defending a Lawyer in Civil Litigation," Legal Malpractice & Risk Management Conference, Chicago, Illinois, March 2017
  • "What Employers Need to Know About Whistleblower Claims," Hinshaw's Annual Labor & Employment Seminar, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, October 2016
  • "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: A Panel Discussion," Southeast Asia Bar Association, Chicago, Illinois, June 2016
  • "Effective Direct and Cross Examination," Hinshaw University, Chicago, Illinois, February 2016
  • "Prosecution of a Defense Attorney for His Vigorous Defense Acceptable? Questionable? Deplorable?" Northwestern University School of Law, November 2015
  • "The Impact of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on Your Small or Medium Sized Business," Stateline World Trade Association, Beloit, Wisconsin, March 2015

  • "Federal False Claims and Managing Civil and Criminal Investigations," Illinois Association of Healthcare Attorneys' 32nd Annual Health Law Symposium, October 2014
  • "Fraud and Embezzlement: How to Prevent, Detect, and Investigate Employee Misconduct," Hinshaw's Annual Labor & Employment Seminar, Hoffman Estates, Illinois, October 2013

  • "Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Compliance: A Must for International Trade," Rockford Area Economic Development Council, Rockford, Illinois, March 2013
  • "Corporate Governance in a Post-Dodd Frank World," Corporate Counsel Conference, Hispanic National Bar Association, Atlanta, March 2013
  • "FCPA Fundamentals," American Bar Association, Fifth Annual National Institute on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Washington, D.C., October 2012
  • "Best Practices in Fraud Investigations and SEC Enforcement Trends," Hispanic National Bar Association's 37th Annual Convention, Seattle, August 2012
  • "Corporate Internal Investigations," Minority Corporate Counsel Association, 9th Annual General Counsel Invitational & Diversity Leadership Summit, Miami, April 2012
  • "White Collar Crime and Corporate Internal Investigations," Hispanic National Bar Association Corporate Counsel Conference, Jersey City, New Jersey, March 2012

Mr. Acosta also has spoken to many organizations, including the City of Chicago Department of Law; the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training Programs in Bogota, Colombia in 2004, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 2006.

He was also a regular lecturer at the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Education, Basic Trial Advocacy Course.

Community/Civic Activities

  • Elmhurst College, Member of Board of Trustees (2015–Present)
  • City of Chicago Task Force on Police Accountability (2015–2016)
  • Illinois Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board, Board Member (2014)
  • Mayor's Ethics Reform Task Force, Member (2011–2012)
  • Volunteer at Public Action to Deliver Shelter (PADS) DuPage, Inc. (1998–Present)


J.D., The George Washington University School of Law, 1985

B.A., French, DePaul University, 1982