Gammon, Howard & Zeszotarski

Joe Zeszotarski

Joe’s practice focuses on representing individuals and businesses in criminal matters in both federal and state court. Since 1995, Joe has represented people from all walks of life who have had trouble come into their lives, from sophisticated professionals to public officials to the indigent.

Joe has defended criminal cases involving allegations of fraud, tax crimes, antitrust violations, customs violations, environmental crimes, and drug crimes. He regularly represents indigent persons in murder cases involving the death penalty across North Carolina.  A substantial portion of his practice involves representing health care providers in litigation against the government, in criminal cases and in civil False Claims Act cases.

Joe has defended clients in scores of trials in federal and state court, with a high number of successful outcomes. His expertise in criminal defense is recognized by his “AV” rating by Martindale Hubbell, as well as his being selected by his peers for inclusion in the “Best Lawyers in America” since 2003 and among Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite” since 2008. Joe has been selected for inclusion among Law & Politics’ “North Carolina Super Lawyers” since 2006, and in 2010 was recognized by that publication as one of the “Top 100” lawyers in North Carolina.  In 2015 and 2016, Joe was named the criminal defense "Lawyer of the Year" in Raleigh by the "Best Lawyers in America" publication.  

In addition to defending clients at trial, Joe’s practice involves assisting individuals and businesses under investigation in avoiding the bringing of criminal charges altogether.  Joe has extensive experience in representing businesses and their employees in grand jury investigations, and in assisting those clients in avoiding the return of criminal charges.  Joe has also successfully negotiated numerous pretrial diversion agreements for his clients, wherein the Government has agreed to dismiss the charges it brought against the client after further review of the matter.

Recent representative cases include:

●           Represented owner of military contracting company charged in federal court with procurement fraud offenses relating to efforts to obtain Government contract; obtained pretrial dismissal of all counts in indictment on ground that actions alleged in indictment did not constitute a crime

 ●          Represented owner of finance company charged in federal court with money laundering offenses relating to cash payments received by company; obtained dismissal and judgment of acquittal on all charges at close of Government evidence at trial

 ●          Represented nurse practitioner charged in federal court with more than 240 felony counts of illegal distribution of narcotics relating to pain medicine prescriptions written by client; negotiated settlement of case whereby all felony counts were dismissed, client entered plea to one misdemeanor count of negligently failing to keep appropriate records, and client received sentence of probation

 ●          Represented company executive in antitrust investigation relating to allegations of bid-rigging; investigation terminated with no criminal charges or civil actions being filed

●           Represented health care provider in criminal and civil investigation into billing practices; investigation terminated with no criminal charges or civil actions being filed

Joe also regularly represents clients in forfeiture proceedings in federal court, and has successfully obtained the return of money and property from the Government for numerous businesses and individuals.  He regularly represents clients in appeals in federal and state courts, and has successfully argued appeals in the federal circuit courts of appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Supreme Court.

In addition to his criminal practice, Joe also advises businesses and other lawyers in responding to subpoenas, lawsuits, and other crisis inquiries.  Joe has represented judges in disciplinary actions brought by the Judicial Standards Commission of North Carolina.  Joe has represented businesses and individuals in complex civil lawsuits, in the areas of antitrust, banking litigation, tax litigation, and fraud litigation, including class actions.

Joe began his career as a law clerk to the Honorable William L. Osteen, Sr., judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Contact Joe via email here


Wake Forest University, JD, 1994, cum laude

  • Wake Forest Law Review

Muhlenberg College, BA, 1991, summa cum laude

  • Phi Beta Kappa

Professional Activities

Past Chair, Criminal Law Section, North Carolina Advocates for Justice

Past Chair, Criminal Law Section, North Carolina Bar Association

Member, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers