Gammon, Howard & Zeszotarski

Joe Zeszotarski

Joe’s practice focuses on representing individuals and businesses in a broad range of government investigations and criminal cases throughout North Carolina and the country.  He has over 25 years of experience in both federal and state courts.  His clients have included public officials, corporate executives and business owners, doctors, lawyers, judges, and businesses of all sizes.  Joe has been recognized by numerous publications as a leading white collar criminal defense attorney in North Carolina.  In 2017, Joe was inducted as a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.  The College is composed of the best of the trial bar from the United States and Canada, and Fellows are chosen by invitation only after a thorough vetting process.  Membership in the College is limited to one percent of the total lawyer population of the state in which the lawyer practices. 

Joe has defended clients in cases and investigations involving allegations of fraud, tax crimes, antitrust violations, customs violations, environmental crimes, securities crimes, money laundering, and drug crimes. A substantial portion of his practice involves the representation of clients in criminal tax matters and in the representation of health care providers in litigation against the government in criminal cases and in civil False Claims Act cases. Joe has represented numerous clients in civil forfeiture proceedings in federal court, and successfully obtained the return to the client of property seized by the government. Joe also represents business clients in civil False Claims Act cases in federal courts and in other high-stakes civil litigation. 

Joe has defended clients in scores of trials in federal and state courts, with a high number of successful outcomes.  Joe has successfully argued appeals in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and the North Carolina Supreme Court.  In addition to his courtroom work, Joe’s practice focuses on assisting clients under investigation in avoiding the bringing of criminal charges or civil enforcement actions altogether.  Some of his most successful representations have involved the avoidance of litigation entirely for his client.

Joe began his legal 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. 



Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers

Named by Best Lawyers as Raleigh “Lawyer of the Year” in Criminal Defense -- 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020

Best Lawyers in America (Criminal Defense- White Collar/General) -- 2003 to present

Best Lawyers in America (Bet The Company Litigation) -- 2017 to present 

Business North Carolina “Legal Elite” -- 2008 to present

North Carolina “Super Lawyers” -- 2006 to present

Rated “AV” by Martindale Hubbell

Named as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in North Carolina, North Carolina “Super Lawyers” -- 2010, 2020, 2021, 2022

Named as one of the Top 25 Lawyers in Raleigh, North Carolina "Super Lawyers" -- 2021, 2022



Represented executive of military contracting company in civil False Claims Act case brought by Government seeking millions of dollars in actual damages; obtained summary judgment in favor of client against all claims asserted by Government

Represented executive of investment fund in federal criminal investigation arising from the collapse of the fund and multimillion-dollar loss to investors; investigation terminated with no criminal charges being filed

Won dismissal of client's federal firearms charges after obtaining suppression of key evidence in case based on violation of client's constitutional rights (United States v. Zarate-Garcia, EDNC No. 5:19-CR-248-D)

Represented numerous clients in federal and state criminal tax investigations with investigations being terminated without the filing of charges

Won reversal on appeal of client’s federal conviction on grounds that Government’s key evidence was obtained in violation of client’s Fourth Amendment rights; on remand all charges against client were dismissed (United States v. Lull, 824 F.3d 109 (4th Cir. 2016))

Represented owner of military contracting company charged in federal court with procurement fraud offenses relating to efforts to obtain Government contracts; obtained pretrial dismissal of all counts in indictment via motion to dismiss demonstrating that acts alleged in indictment did not constitute a crime (United States v. Pennington, 108 F.3d 343 (EDNC 2015))

Represented owner of finance company charged in federal court with money laundering offenses; obtained dismissal and judgment of acquittal on all counts at close of Government evidence at trial

Represented owner of company in criminal tax investigation arising from nonpayment of millions of dollars of employment taxes; investigation terminated with no criminal charges being filed

Represented supervisory law enforcement officer in bribery and corruption investigation; investigation terminated with no criminal charges being filed

Represented corporate executive in antitrust investigation relating to allegations of bid-rigging; investigation terminated with no criminal charges being filed

Represented company in criminal customs investigation relating to allegations of importation of counterfeit goods; investigation terminated with no criminal charges being filed

Represented health care providers in criminal and civil investigations into billing practices; investigations terminated with no criminal charges or civil actions being filed

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

●          Past Member, Local Rules Umbrella Committee, United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina

●          Past Member, CJA Appellate Panel Committee, Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals