John McKnight

John McKnight
John McKnight
Senior Litigation Counsel

(415) 795-2015

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As Co-Chair of the Firm’s whistleblower practice, John McKnight works primarily on qui tam/whistleblower cases. He received his law degree from University of Maryland Law School in 2011.

Meet John McKnight

Meet John McKnight

Our commitment to securing justice and providing the best representation possible is reflected in a commitment to diversity within our own firm. At Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, we know better than to think the best attorneys look alike, sound alike, think alike, or live alike. What matters is talent, and we hire the best talent available.

As a result, our team more accurately mirrors America. Women, minority, and/or openly gay lawyers make up the majority of our staff. A passion for social justice unites our team - we all work to use the power of law to help create and enforce a more just society.

John McKnight is a Senior Litigation Counsel in the Washington, DC office of Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, a national law firm with offices in the District of Columbia, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland, and a Co-Chair of the firm’s Whistleblower Practice. He received his J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law, M.F.A. from the New School, and B.A. from the University of Michigan.

Mr. McKnight is experienced in the representation of clients in qui tam lawsuits under the U.S. False Claims Act and works on sealed and unsealed qui tam whistleblower cases involving fraud against the federal and state governments.  He was an integral part of the litigation team that ultimately secured an $11.3 million settlement in U.S. ex rel. Cox v. Smith & Nephew, the first Trade Agreements Act settlement involving a medical device company. In addition to the Trade Agreements Act, Mr. McKnight works on cases involving the SEC Whistleblower program, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Price Reduction Clause, the Price Adjustment Clause, Medicare procurement guidelines, and numerous other fraud-based statutes.

Mr. McKnight is a member of the Maryland Bar Association, and speaks intermediate-level Mandarin Chinese.


Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, Mr. McKnight was an Associate at McKnight and Kennedy, LLC in Silver Spring, Maryland, which he joined following his graduation from the University of Maryland School of Law.

While at the University of Maryland, Mr. McKnight interned with the Human Rights Team at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, and with United States District Court Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. (Retired) of the District of Columbia, District of Columbia Superior Court Judge William Jackson, and Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson of the United States District Court of the District of Columbia. He also participated in the University of Maryland’s International and Comparative Law Clinic in China, where he worked with actors in the Chinese microcredit industry.


  • J.D., University of Maryland School of Law, 2011
  • M.F.A., The New School, 2007
  • B.A., University of Michigan, 2005


  • Honorable Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. (Retired), United States District Court, the District of Columbia
  • Honorable Judge William Jackson, Superior Court, District of Columbia
  • Honorable Judge Deborah Robinson, United States District Court, the District of Columbia

Bar Admissions

  • Maryland, 2011
  • District of Columbia, 2015
  • Pending admission to the CA bar

United States ex rel. Ytmin “Jay” Fang v. Fortinet, Inc., et al.

According to settlement documents in a qui tam case against California-based network security company Fortinet, Inc., the relator represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp was awarded 19% of the $545,000 the company was fined for selling equipment made in China to the U.S. Government.

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United States ex rel. Cox v. Smith & Nephew (W.D. Tenn.) – $11 Million Settlement

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP won a $11.3 million qui tam settlement against Smith & Nephew one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers. The whistleblower, represented by the firm and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleged that Smith & Nephew violated the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”) and the False Claims Act by selling products to the Government that were manufactured in countries with which the United States is not a trading partner, under contracts governed by the TAA.

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United States ex rel. Sherwin v. Office Depot (Los Angeles County Superior Court) – $68 Million Settlement

The whistleblower, represented by Altomease Kennedy and California co-counsels, alleged that Office Depot violated the California False Claims Act by overcharging numerous governmental entities, including the city and county of Los Angeles, for office and classroom supplies, and failing to offer them the company’s “best price.” The city of Los Angeles received the largest settlement allocation of more than $11 million.

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United States ex rel. Cox Et Al v. Medtronic (D. Minn.) – $23.5 Million Settlement

Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP won a more than $4.4 million qui tam settlement against Medtronic, Inc., one of the world’s largest medical device manufacturers. The whistleblower, represented by the firm and the U.S. Department of Justice, alleged that Medtronic violated the Trade Agreements Act (“TAA”) and the False Claims Act by selling products to the Government that were manufactured in countries with which the United States is not a trading partner, under contracts governed by the TAA.

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  • October 3 – 5, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
    Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund (TAFEF) 2018 Conference and Awards

Sarbanes-Oxley: Private or Public?

Since its enactment in 2002, Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) has left a large, albeit often controversial, footprint in the world of corporate internal controls. As the compliance world has adjusted to the post-SOX era, businesses and courts have observed a growing need to address the current and future SOX requirements of private companies. This has had particular […]

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Confidentiality Agreements as the Basis for False Claims Act Suits

Corporations have long used confidentiality agreements as a cudgel to prevent employees from disclosing information about fraud and abuse to the Government. While each confidentiality agreement must be viewed in light of its individual circumstances, potential whistleblowers may be surprised to learn that the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.203-18 actually prohibits the use of government […]

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Whistleblowing Under Dodd-Frank and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

Foreign nationals often play a critical role in providing information necessary to successful enforcement actions. This role is particularly important as the United States seeks to crack down on the American corporations engaging in bribery and corruption while doing business abroad. One of the primary tools the United States Government uses to fight corruption is […]

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Dual-Pronged Protections for Record-Keeping Whistleblowers

Because bribery cannot be conducted transparently without leaving a trail of breadcrumbs directly back to the wrongdoing, any scheme by a registered company to bribe foreign officials will almost certainly run afoul of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’s (“FCPA”) record-keeping provisions. However, the FCPA’s record-keeping provisions reach well beyond bribery. The FCPA delineates far-reaching rules […]

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GSA Pricing Fraud Basics: What is it and what should you look for?

If you have ever purchased a car, you already know the many headaches associated with price negotiation. You may purchase the car of your dreams only to find out two days later that a friend bought exactly the same car from the same dealer for thousands less. After a bit of internet research, you may […]

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If you’re wondering what’s keeping women out of STEM, don’t discount sexual harassment

Recently a vibrant debate about increasing the number of women in STEM fields has been taking place in academia, the private sector, and even the federal government. One of the biggest problems is ensuring that young women interested in the sciences stay in STEM fields throughout college and the rest of their careers. Currently, women […]

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Agent Scully and the Hollywood Wage Gap

In late 2014, the Sony Pictures email hack revealed a substantial gender-based pay gap. Of the most notable revelations was that Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence was paid substantially less than her male co-stars for her role in American Hustle. The hack also revealed that Hannah Minghella, co-president of Columbia Pictures, earns almost $1 million less […]

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“Master of None” and the Freedom to Be Average

Racial disparities on television are nothing new. When I was a child in the late 1980s, I remember having an internal struggle about whether my career of choice would be professional athlete or superhero. I also remember coming to the conclusion that because no superheroes had brown skin, that professional athlete would be the more […]

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Japan is not a country that has often been lauded for its gender rights records. Just nine years ago, the Japanese Minister of Health, Hakuo Yanagisawa, famously referred to women as “birth-giving machines” in a statement about the country’s shrinking population. Yet despite the prevalence of such harmful opinions about gender roles, Japan recently surpassed […]

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Speedy Ortiz FTW

Punk rock has long been associated with raw energy and disenfranchised white, male youth. However, over the years women and minorities have come to identify with punk rock themes like exclusion from mainstream society, poverty, and life on the fringes. Despite feeling a connection to the music, women, and minorities have long complained of rampant […]

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