Sanford C. Coats


Office: Oklahoma City

Phone: 405.235.7790
Fax: 405.272.5269
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Sanford Coats is a trial lawyer and litigator in the firm’s Oklahoma City office. As co-chair of the Criminal Defense, Compliance & Investigations Practice Group, Coats’ expertise includes government investigations and the representation of corporate and individual clients in all areas of criminal law.

Sanford joined the firm after serving as the United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma, a position to which he was appointed by President Barack Obama. He maintained an active caseload, including the prosecution of a felony murder case involving the death of a child, a $10 million corporate fraud case, a parallel civil and criminal healthcare fraud investigation which resulted in a combined resolution of $490 million, and cases before the Tenth Circuit court of appeals.

Prior to his appointment as United States Attorney, Sanford served as an Assistant United States Attorney and chief of the Major Crimes Section for the Western District of Oklahoma. He prosecuted a variety of cases, including securities fraud, banking fraud, crimes against children, tax evasion, crimes in Indian Country, illegal immigration, complex drug conspiracies and more. Sanford often lectured regarding the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act at conferences across the country. As a result of his hard work and dedication to the justice system, Sanford received the National Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney and several merit awards for exemplary performance.

During his tenure as United States Attorney, Sanford was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC). Attorney General Loretta Lynch later appointed Sanford as co-chair of the Department of Justice Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee. He also served on several AGAC subcommittees, including Native American Issues, Child Exploitation, Criminal Practice, and Office Management and Budget.

Sanford represents clients in federal and state courts facing criminal charges, internal investigations and grand jury investigations. He also counsels clients who are dealing with law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBN), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) agencies.

In 2007, Sanford volunteered for a short-term assignment to the United States Attorney’s Office in New Orleans as part of a special initiative by the Department of Justice following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to assist in the prosecution of violent, firearm and drug crime.

Sanford received his Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma College of Law and holds a bachelor’s degree in history with a minor in economics from Tulane University. He is active in several professional and community organizations. Sanford has served on the board of directors for the Oklahoma City chapter of the Federal Bar Association, Harding Fine Arts Academy and Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School Alumni.

An industry leader, Sanford has presented nationwide regarding issues including domestic terrorism, crimes against children, the Adam Walsh Act, Indian Country, the Violence Against Women Act and federal sentencing.

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Professional Experience

  • U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office (2009-16)
  • Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorney's Office (2004-09)
  • Legal intern for U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard
  • Law clerk for Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Marian P. Opala

Professional Associations & Memberships

  • President, Federal Bar Association Oklahoma City Chapter (2006-07)
  • Annual Meeting Co-Chairman, Federal Bar Association Oklahoma City Chapter (2008)
  • Member, National Association of Former United States Attorneys (2016)

Honors & Awards

  • Director's Award for Superior Performance, Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (2007)
  • The Best Lawyers in America in Commercial Litigation (2018)

Published Works

  • U.S. Attorney: The Servant of the Law, The Federal Lawyer (March 2015)

Speaking Engagements

  • Presenter at U.S. Department of Justice conferences on topics including domestic terrorism, pharmaceutical off label marketing, child exploitation and prisoner re-entry
  • Frequent presenter at the University of Oklahoma College of Law and Oklahoma City University School of Law regarding criminal justice
  • Panelist at the 2nd Annual National Summit on Homeland Security Law: The State of Cyber (April 2016)
  • Speaker, "Remaining on Target: Preparing for Government Investigations and Minimizing Exposure," 26th Annual Crowe & Dunlevy Healthcare Update (May 2016)
  • Speaker, "Balancing the Interests: The Revolution in Healthcare Information," 26th Annual Crowe & Dunlevy Healthcare Update (May 2016)
  • Speaker, “Doing the Right Thing When Nobody is Looking,” Association of Fundraising Professionals, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (September 14, 2016)
  • Speaker, “Cyber Security,” American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma Annual Meeting, Tulsa, Oklahoma (October 24, 2016)
  • Speaker, "Federal Law: An Overview of Racketeering (Including State) and the Trial that Follows," Oklahoma Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, December 16, 2016, Oklahoma City, OK

Community Service

  • Founding Board Member, Harding Fine Arts Charter High School
  • President, Bishop McGuinness High School Alumni Association (2001-02)
  • Member, University of Oklahoma College of Law Board of Visitors
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