John Azzarello Photo

John A. Azzarello

Founding Partner

John A. Azzarello is widely recognized as one of the leading White Collar criminal defense lawyers in the New Jersey/New York region.

A former Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey and former law clerk to the Honorable Nicholas H. Politan, United States District Court Judge for the District of New Jersey, Mr. Azzarello focuses his practice on representing clients, including corporate officers, in all aspects of criminal defense as well as federal and state regulatory matters. He also handles complex commercial litigation matters. Mr. Azzarello has established a reputation for tenacity and attention to detail in the courtroom as well as integrity among his peers. He has devoted the past 30 years of his practice fighting tirelessly and zealously for the rights of his clients.

Recognized as Lawyer of the Year in the 2022 Edition of the Best Lawyers in America, Mr. Azzarello has earned a stellar reputation among his peers as an outstanding trial attorney who masters the details of his cases and leaves no stone unturned. Mr. Azzarello has been separately recognized by New Jersey Monthly as one of the Top Attorneys in New Jersey and by New Jersey Super Lawyers in the area of White Collar criminal defense.

Mr. Azzarello has 30 years of experience as a trial lawyer and has successfully tried numerous cases to verdict. His successes include obtaining an acquittal on all felony charges in a federal prosecution of the Mayor of West New York and his son in the District of New Jersey. Mr. Azzarello also recently secured a probationary sentence in New Jersey State Court for a client who pled guilty to unlawful use of a firearm, a crime that mandates a sentence of imprisonment under the Graves Act. In October 2021, Mr. Azzarello convinced federal prosecutors in New Jersey to dismiss all criminal charges against his client in a wire fraud case after he conducted an independent investigation and identified evidence sufficient to establish his client lacked criminal intent.

With more than 30 years of experience, Mr. Azzarello has orchestrated the criminal defense of officers and directors of public and private corporations in securities, healthcare, insurance and antitrust investigations and prosecutions. He has also successfully defended numerous public officials in state and federal court. Mr. Azzarello has served as special counsel to the New Jersey Senate Democratic Caucus since 2007.

Mr. Azzarello has also conducted numerous internal investigations on behalf of domestic and international corporations to evaluate individual and corporate exposure to criminal and civil liabilities. He has also managed all aspects of civil litigation in both federal and state courts including complex commercial litigation.

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    • In 2013, after a 2 week federal trial, Mr. Azzarello obtained an acquittal on all felony charges for the son of the West New York Mayor. He was accused of conspiring with the Mayor to hack into an email account and shutdown a website designed by political opponents critical of the Mayor and intended to remove him from office.
    • Counseled and negotiated a favorable global plea agreement for the former Mayor of Orange, New Jersey, who was charged with accepting a bribe by federal officials and submission of fraudulent expense vouchers by state officials. Mr. Azzarello successfully argued for a substantial sentencing departure in federal court that resulted in a 9 month term of imprisonment. Through his skillful and relentless negotiations, he obtained a concurrent sentence in state court.
    • Counseled leading U.S. and international internet betting and gaming companies and payment processors concerning compliance with the United States civil and criminal online gaming laws and regulations.
    • Conducted a 7 week criminal securities fraud and insider trading jury trial in the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, which resulted in a plea agreement dismissing the felony counts with the highest potential sentencing exposure including the dismissal of the lead conspiracy count that charged a$120 million fraud.
    • Served as counsel to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, commonly referred to as the “9/11 Commission”. Mr. Azzarello’s principal responsibilities there included investigating and evaluating the response to the terrorist attacks by the offices of the President and Vice President of the United States, the Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Federal Aviation Administration, and state and local governments.
    • Served for 10 years as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, where he successfully conducted numerous jury trials. Mr. Azzarello started in the Criminal Division before moving on to the Special Prosecution Division, where he specialized in public corruption cases. He later was promoted to Deputy Chief, Criminal Division, where he supervised Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the investigation and prosecution of an array of federal crimes. As Deputy Chief, he had direct supervisory litigation responsibilities in numerous federal criminal trials and served as office-wide international crime coordinator.
    • Served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Nicholas H. Politan, United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.


    • Named Lawyer of the Year in the 2022 Edition of The Best Lawyers In America.
    • Recipient of the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award for Sustained Superior Performance of Duty as a Federal Prosecutor.
    • Selected by the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve as an Instructor at the Department of Justice National Advocacy Institute, Washington, D.C.
    • Recipient of the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award for the successful trial and conviction of 17 defendants on RICO, homicide and narcotics charges in the United States v. Victor Gonzalez, et al., a case in which four defendants were sentenced to life without parole.
    • Recipient of a Letter of Commendation from Louis J. Freeh, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, for the successful prosecution of the United States v. Victor Gonzalez, et al.
    • Recipient of the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey’s Special Achievement Award for the successful prosecution of the United States v. Galuzzi, a case involving public corruption.


    • Panelist - "Preparing your Client for the Presentence Interview and Sentencing Process in Federal Court", Criminal Justice Act Panel for the District of New Jersey, January 2014.
    • Panelist – “Preparing for the Storm: Addressing Whistleblowers and Claims of Business Fraud While Managing Corporate Investigations”, Association of Corporate Counsel, Greater New York Chapter, January 2009.
    • Panelist – “Compliance Readiness: Avoiding Compliance Surprises—Bribery, Domestic and Foreign (The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act)”, Association of Corporate Counsel, Greater New York Chapter & K&L Gates, October 2006.


    • White Collar Crime
    • Criminal Defense of all matters in federal courts in New Jersey and New York as well as state courts throughout New Jersey
    • Corporate Internal Investigations
    • Defense of individual and corporate clients in Regulatory matters 
    • Complex Commercial Litigation (state and federal)
    • Defense of individuals, public and private entities in against Employment, Civil Rights and Civil RICO claims


    • J.D. magna cum laude Seton Hall University
    • Associate Editor of the Seton Hall Law Review
    • President of the Student Bar Association
    • B.A. cum laude Georgetown University


    • New Jersey
    • New York
    • District of Columbia (Inactive)


    • United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
    • United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
    • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
    • United States Supreme Court


    • Member, Criminal Justice Act Panel for the District of New Jersey


    • Member, Board of Trustees, Joseph P. Miele Foundation , West Caldwell, NJ (1994-Present)
    • Grantor, The Grazioso Children’s September 11th Trust Fund
    • Partnership for a Drug Free New Jersey, Executive Board Member
    • 2013, Elected to serve a 3 year term as a member of the Green Brook Township School Board

    What Sets Us Apart?

    We handle each client's matter as if it were our own
    • Focused Exclusively on Criminal Law & Complex Civil Disputes
    • Personal Care & Attention to Our Client’s Legal Needs
    • Direct Access to Attorneys From Start to Finish
    • Extensive Knowledge About Both Sides of The Law

    Contact Us Today for a free consultation

    Whipple Azzarello is a firm where every client  is treated like a family member and no stone is left unturned.

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