On his first day as Attorney General, Eric Holder promised the Department's top priority — and its chief responsibility — would be protecting the security, rights and interests of the American people. Five years later, together with the extraordinary men and women who serve at the Department of Justice, that promise has been fulfilled and under Attorney General Holder the Department will continue its important work on behalf of all Americans.
Here you will find some of the Justice Department’s top accomplishments under the leadership of Attorney General Holder.
Protecting the American People Against Terrorism and Other Threats to National Security
The Department of Justice has thwarted multiple terrorist plots against the United States. Since the beginning of 2009, the Justice Department has thwarted multiple terrorist plots against the United States; convicted and incarcerated scores of individuals on terrorism-related charges; and gleaned critical intelligence from and about terrorists through the criminal justice system.
Significant accomplishments include:
In March 2015, Abid Naseer, 28, a Pakistani national who joined al-Qaeda and plotted to commit a terrorist attack in the United Kingdom, was convicted by a jury for providing material support to al-Qaeda, conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda, and conspiring to use a destructive device in relation to a crime of violence.The evidence at trial established that the defendant and his accomplices were plotting to conduct an attack on a busy shopping mall located in the city center of Manchester, United Kingdom in April 2009.
In March 2015, NSD announced the extradition of Minh Quang Pham, aka “Amin,” from the United Kingdom.Pham, a Vietnamese national, was indicted in 2012 on charges of providing material support to, and receiving military training from, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), as well as possessing and using a firearm in furtherance of crimes of violence, and other violations.
In February 2015, NSD announced the extraditions of international arms traffickers Cristian Vintila, 44, Massimo Romagnoli, 43, and Virgil Flaviu Georgescu, 42, all charged with conspiring to sell large quantities of military-grade weaponry to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (the FARC) – a designated foreign terrorist organization – to be used to kill officers and employees of the United States in Colombia.
In February 2015, a criminal complaint was unsealed charging Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, Akhror Saidakhmetov, and Abror Habibov with attempting and conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In February 2015, Sohiel Omar Kabir, 37, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan, and Ralph Deleon, 26, of Ontario, were each sentenced to 300 months imprisonment for participating in plots to provide material support to terrorists and to kill American personnel.
In February 2015, Hamza Naj Ahmed, 19, was indicted for conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).Ahmed is also charged with attempting to provide material support to ISIL and for making a false statement in a terrorism investigation.
In February 2015, Jesse William Korff, 20, of Labelle, Florida, was sentenced to 110 months imprisonment for producing and selling potentially deadly toxins for use as weapons, and conspiring to kill a woman in the United Kingdom.
- In February 2015, Reaz Qadir Khan, 50, a naturalized U.S. citizen residing in Portland, Oregon, pleaded guilty to the crime of accessory after the fact for providing assistance to individuals connected to the 2009 suicide bomb attack at the headquarters of Pakistan’s intelligence service that killed approximately 30 individuals and injured 300 more.
- In February 2015, Six Bosnians (Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County, Missouri; Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 of Schiller Park, Illinois; and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois) were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, and with providing material support to terrorists. Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Nihad Rosic were also charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons in a foreign country.
- In February 2015, Adel Abdel Bary, aka “Adel Mohammed Abdul Almagid Abdel Bary,” aka “Abbas,” aka “Abu Dia,” aka “Adel” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 25 years in prison for his conviction on international terrorism charges in connection with Bary’s work on behalf of al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
- In February 2015, Abdinassir Mohamud Ibrahim was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for conspiring to provide material support to Al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization, and for making a false statement in an immigration matter.
- In January 2015, Faruq Khalil Muhammed ‘Isa, aka “Faruq Khalil Muhammad ‘Isa,” “Sayfildin Tahir Sharif,” and “Tahir Sharif Sayfildin,” will have his initial appearance at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, on charges of conspiring to kill Americans abroad; and providing material support to a terrorist conspiracy to kill Americans abroad. ‘Isa was extradited to the United States from Canada.
- In January 2015, Christopher Lee Cornell, 20, of Green Township, Ohio, was charged with attempting to kill officers and employees of the United States, solicitation to commit a crime of violence and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in an indictment returned in Cincinnati. Cornell was charged for his alleged plot to attack the U.S. Capitol and kill government officials.
- In January 2015, Wesam El-Hanafi was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 15 years in prison for his extensive efforts to support al Qaeda – including financial support and facilitating surveillance of a New York City landmark for an attack – that spanned nearly three years.
- In January 2015, Saddiq Al-Abbadi, also known as “Sufiyan al-Yemeni” and “Sufwan,” and Ali Alvi, also known as “Issa al-Yemeni,” was charged with conspiracy to murder United States nationals abroad and providing material support to al-Qaeda.
- In January 2015, Alagie Barrow, 41, was charged for his role in a recent attempted coup in The Gambia. Barrow is charged with conspiracy to violate the Neutrality Act by making an expedition against a friendly nation from the United States and conspiracy to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
- In January 2015, Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, aka “Abu Hamza,” aka “Abu Hamza al Masri,” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to life imprisonment by U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest for his participation in a hostage-taking in Yemen in 1998 that resulted in four deaths, conspiring to establish a terrorist training camp in Bly, Oregon, and sending a follower to train and fight with al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 2000.
- In January 2015, Mohammed Hamzah Khan, 19, a U.S. citizen, was charged with attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a single-count indictment.
- In December 2014, four Philippine nationals were indicted on conspiracy, hostage-taking, and weapons charges stemming from the kidnapping in the Philippines of a mother and her then 14-year-old son in July 2011.
- In November 2014, Diego Alfonso Navarrete Beltran, an accused member of the FARC terrorist organization, was extradited from Colombia to face hostage taking and terrorism charges in the United States.
- In November 2014, Irek Ilgiz Hamidullin was indicted for federal terrorism offenses arising from his alleged participation in an attack on U.S. troops and Afghan Border Police in the Khost Province of Afghanistan in November 2009.
- In October 2014, Donald Ray Morgan of North Carolina pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization.
- In October 2014, a jury convicted Robel Phillipos, a college friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, for making false statements to investigators assigned to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
- In October 2014, Alexander Beltran Herrera a commander of the FARC terrorist organization, was sentenced to 27 years imprisonment on federal hostage-taking charges stemming from the 2003 capture of three U.S.citizens in Colombia.
- In October 2014, the Justice Department announced the extradition of Haroon Aswat from the United Kingdom to face charges of conspiring to provide and providing material support to al Qaeda, for attempting to establish a terrorist training camp in the United States.
- In October 2014, Akba Jihad Jordan of North Carolina, pleaded guilty for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
- In October 2014, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, convicted in 2013 of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a plot to detonate a vehicle bomb at an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment.
- In September 2014, Al Qaeda Spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghayth was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists. Sulaiman appeared with Usama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, threatening additional attacks against Americans.
- In September 2014, an international terrorism defendant “Bary” pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to international terrorism charges in connection with his work on behalf of al Qaeda and the Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
- In September 2014, a civilian defense contractor and retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army was sentenced to serve 87 months imprisonment for willfully communicating classified national defense information to a person not authorized to receive it.
- In September 2014, Mufid A.Elfgeeh of Rochester was charged with three counts of attempting to provide material support and resources to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
- In September 2014, a Colorado woman pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and its affiliates.
- In September 2014, Jose Padilla was re-sentenced to 21 years imprisonment for conspiring to murder, kidnap and maim individuals in a foreign country; and providing material support to terrorists.
- In August 2014, a Florida man pleaded guilty to developing, producing, transferring, possessing, and smuggling toxins, as part of a plan to use the deadly toxins to kill a woman in the United Kingdom.
- In August 2014, Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Ahmad was brought to trial on federal terrorism offenses for his alleged participation in a conspiracy to use improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to attack U.S. military personnel in Iraq from approximately 2005 to 2010.
- In July 2014, three defendants were arrested on charges of providing material support to al-Shabaab, a designated foreign terrorist organization that is conducting a violent insurgency campaign in Somalia. Two additional defendants are fugitives in Kenya and Somalia.
- In June 2014, Ahmed Abu Khatallah was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists, additional charges were brought in October.
- In May 2014, James Everett Dutschke of Tupelo, Mississippi was sentenced to 300 months imprisonment for developing and possessing the biological agent ricin and subsequently mailing ricin-laced, threatening letters including one that threatened bodily harm to the President of the United States.
- In May 2014, the Department of Justice announced that a grand jury in the Western District of Pennsylvania (WDPA) had indicted five Chinese military hackers for computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries.
- In April 2014, the Department of Justice announced that Li Fangwei, also known as "Karl Lee," had been charged with, among other things, violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) for his use of United States-based financial institutions to engage in millions of dollars of U.S. dollar transactions in violation of economic sanctions that prohibited such financial transactions. Sanctions previously had been imposed on Lee because of his role in Iranian Weapons Proliferation activities.
- In March 2014, in the first ever federal jury conviction on charges brought under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, a jury found Walter Liew, his company USA Performance Technology Inc. (USAPTI), and Robert Maegerle guilty of economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, bankruptcy fraud, tax evasion, and obstruction of justice for their roles in a long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of companies controlled by the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC). In July 2014, Walter Liew was sentenced to 180 months' imprisonment for his actions.
- In December 2013, Ming Suan Zhang, a Chinese citizen, was sentenced to 57 months imprisonmentfor attempting to export thousands of pounds of aerospace-grade, export-controlled carbon fiber worth over $4 million from the United States to China. Such fiber can be used to manufacture fighter jets and other munitions.
- In July 2013, the Justice Department announced that Ahmed Muse Salad, Abukar Osman Beyle and Shani Nurani Shiekh Abrar, charged with multiple counts of piracy, hostage taking and violence against maritime navigation, were each sentenced to serve life in prison for their role in the hijacking of an American vessel sailing in the Indian Ocean and the resulting deaths of four American citizens on board.
- In May 2013, the Justice Department announced the sentencing of several al Shabaab defendants for their roles in providing material support to terrorists and obstructing the FBI's investigation. These prosecutions were the result of the FBI's "Operation Rhino." For example, Mahamud Said Omar was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for providing material support to al Shabaab and conspiracy to kill or maim overseas. Omer Abdi Mohamed was also sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for his role in providing material support to al Shabaab.
- In May 2013, the Department ended the decades-long illicit trade activities of Hsien Tai Tsai, also known as "Alex Tsai," an OFAC designated proliferator of weapons of mass destruction and supplier of advanced weapons machinery to North Korea, when he was arrested along with his son, Yueh-Hsun Tsai, also known as "Gary Tsai."
- In May 2013, the Justice Department announced the sentencing of Amina Farah Ali and Hawo Mohamed Hassan to serve 20 years and 10 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in fundraising activities on behalf of al Shabaab under the pretense that monies were for the poor and needy.
- In February 2013, the Justice Department announced the sentencing of Basaaly Saeed Moalin, Mohamed Mohamud, Ahmed Nasir Taal Ail Mohamud and Issa Doreh for providing material support of al Shabaab in the form of housing for terrorists in Somalia. They were also found guilty of conspiring to launder monetary instruments. Moalin was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release, and Mohamud was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release. Ahmed Nasir Taal Ail Mohamud and Issa Doreh are awaiting sentencing.
- In July 2013, the Justice Department announced that Ahmed Warsame, a former senior al-Shabaab commander and emissary to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, pleaded guilty to all counts of a terrorism indictment against him.
- In 2013, David Coleman Headley, who admitted to his role in planning the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, and later plotting a separate terrorist attack in Denmark, was sentenced to 35 years imprisonment after cooperating extensively with the government.
- In May 2013, Manssor Arbabsiar was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his role in a plot approved by members of the Iranian military to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States while the Ambassador was in the United States.
- In November 2012, Adis Medunjanin was sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in an al-Qaeda plot to bomb the New York City subway system in September 2009, and to commit a terrorist attack by crashing his car on the Whitestone Expressway in an effort to kill himself and others.
- In August 2012, Naser Jason Abdo was sentenced to life in prison in connection with his plot to carry out a bomb attack on soldiers from Fort Hood, Texas.
- In February 2012, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, also known as the "underwear bomber," was sentenced to life in prison for his attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009.
- In 2012, Khalid Aldawsari was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction stemming from his purchase of materials to make a bomb and his research of potential U.S. targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, as well as hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants.
- In June 2010, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempting to detonate a car bomb in New York City's Times Square.
The Department of Justice has successfully executed ground-breaking counter intelligence operations.
Since 2009, the Department has successfully dismantled several major espionage networks including:
- In January 2015, three Russians, Evgeny Buryakov, aka “Zhenya,” Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, were charged in connection with Buryakov’s service as a covert intelligence agent on behalf of the Russian Federation (Russia) in New York City, without notifying the U.S. Attorney General of Buryakov’s status as an agent of Russia, as required by federal law.
- In January 2015, a West Palm Beach resident pleaded guilty to willful retention of classified national defense information pursuant to the Espionage Act, one count of computer intrusion pursuant to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and one count of conspiracy to commit naturalization fraud, while employed as a computer systems administrator at a U.S. Military installation in Honduras.
- In October 2014, the Justice Department announced strategic changes within the National Security Division designed to put additional focus on the protection of national assets from the threat of state-sponsored economic espionage and proliferation, including through cyberspace, including new appointments within the NSD’s senior leadership, the creation of a new Deputy Assistant Attorney General Position focusing on protecting national assets and the re-designation of the Anti-Terrorism and Advisory Council (ATAC) Coordinator program as the National Security Coordinator/ATAC program
- In September 2014, Interpol Washington announced the formation of a dedicated Interpol Foreign Terrorist Fighter (FTF) program in partnership with the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide an unparalleled mechanism for addressing the threat from foreign terror fighters.
- In September 2014, the Justice Department launched a new series of pilot programs in cities across the country to bring together community representatives, public safety officials and religious leaders to counter violent extremism in partnership with the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Counterterrorism Center.
- In March 2013, Bryan Underwood, a former guard at a U.S. Consulate under construction in China, was sentenced to nine years in prison in connection with his efforts to sell classified photographs and information about the U.S. Consulate to China.
- In March 2012, Stewart Nozette, a former White House National Space Council member, was sentenced to 13 years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of attempted espionage.
- In January 2010, Noshir Gowadia, a former B-2 bomber engineer, was convicted on numerous criminal charges related to helping China design a stealthy cruise missile and was later sentenced to 32 years in prison.
- In January 2011, Glenn Shriver, a one-time CIA applicant, was sentenced to 48 months imprisonment for conspiring to provide classified information to Chinese intelligence officers.
- In 2010, in collaboration with partners across the government, the Department dismantled a network of Russian agents that had been operating clandestinely in the U.S. for several years. The successful prosecution, exposure and removal of these individuals from the U.S. represented one of the most successful counterintelligence operations in modern U.S. history.
- In 2009, Walter Myers, a former State Department official, pleaded guilty in connection with a nearly 30-year conspiracy to provide classified information to Cuban intelligence agents and was later sentenced to life imprisonment. His wife, Gwendolyn Myers, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 81 months imprisonment.
The Department of Justice has prevented U.S. military and strategic technologies from falling into the wrong hands. In recent years, the Department has increased its multi-agency efforts to counter the ever-growing threat posed by the illegal foreign acquisition of controlled U.S. military and strategic technologies. These efforts have resulted in hundreds of investigations, indictments and arrests, as well numerous successful extraditions and the disruption of major international procurement networks, particularly those seeking U.S. munitions and sensitive technology for Iran and China. In recent years, roughly a third of the major export and embargo-related criminal prosecutions have involved the attempted transfer of controlled U.S. technology to Iran or China.
In February 2015, Mozaffar Khazaee, 60, formerly of Manchester, Connecticut, pleaded guilty violating the Arms Export Control Act, in connection with his efforts to send to Iran sensitive, proprietary, trade secret and export controlled material relating to military jet engines for the U.S. Air Force’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter program and the F-22 Raptor program, which he had stolen from defense contractors where he had previously been employed.
- In October 2014, Dmitry Ustinov of Russia was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment for conspiring to export high-tech military technology to Russia.
- In October 2014, Robbins & Myers Belgium S.A., pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Export Administration Regulations for exporting drilling equipment to Syria.
- In September 2014, Harold Rinko of Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to conspiring to illegally export laboratory equipment, including items used to detect chemical warfare agents, from the United States to Syria.
- In July 2014, a Chinese national, pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico to violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) by scheming illegally to export defense articles with military application to the People’s Republic of China.
- In 2012, a Canadian subsidiary of a major U.S. defense contractor pleaded guilty to criminal charges for exporting U.S.-origin military software to China for use in the development of China’s first modern military attack helicopter.
- In October 2012, the Department disrupted a Russian procurement network in the United States that was illegally exporting U.S. microelectronics to Russian military and intelligence agencies.
- In July 2012, the Department disrupted an international network conspiring to illegally export to Iran U.S.-origin materials for the construction of gas centrifuges to enrich uranium.
- In 2011, Department efforts disrupted a network procuring U.S. components for illegal export to Iran, many of which later ended up in Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq.
The Department of Justice has continued to identify and disrupt Narco-terrorist networks. Since 2009, the Department has continued to combat drug trafficking by those who use the profits to fund terrorist activities with a particular focus in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- In November 2013, DEA and foreign counterparts arrested Dino Bouterse, a citizen of Suriname, charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to Hezbollah. Hezbollah has long been connected to drug trafficking and money laundering. Bouterse is also the son of the current President of Suriname and was also previously charged with cocaine importation into the United States and brandishing a rocket launcher. Bouterse used his position to assist individuals he believed were members of Hezbollah. In exchange for a multimillion-dollar pay-off, Bouterse agreed to allow large numbers of purported Hezbollah operatives to use Suriname as a permanent base for, among other things, attacks on American targets. In furtherance of his efforts to assist Hezbollah, Bouterse supplied a false Surinamese passport for the purpose of making clandestine travel easier, including travel to the United States; began determining which heavy weapons he might provide to Hezbollah; and indicated how Hezbollah operatives, supplied with a Surinamese cover story, might enter the United States.
- In April 2013, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) led an operation targeting Guinea Bissau's top military official, Antonio Indjai, and four of his co-conspirators. This criminal network conspired to provide aid to FARC by storing FARC-owned cocaine in West Africa and conspired to provide surface-to-air missiles to protect FARC cocaine processing operations in Colombia against U.S. military forces.
- In addition to their trafficking ring, Indjai was also one of the main leaders in the April 2012 coup d'etat in Guinea Bissau. DEA's operation led to their arrests in a West African country and they will face justice in the United States.
- DEA's global presence allowed us to infiltrate a major international criminal group led by a former U.S. military member who oversaw a contract murder-for-hire network. Each of the three individuals arrested September 2012 and transferred to the United States had military experience either here or abroad. In addition to the murder-for-hire contract work they oversaw, these individuals conspired to: import cocaine into the United States; conspired to murder a DEA agent and a person assisting a law enforcement agent; conspired to kill a person to prevent communications to law enforcement agents; conspired to possess a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence; and conspired to distribute cocaine on board an aircraft.
- In December 2009, three al Qaeda associates were arrested in Ghana for conspiracy to commit acts of narco-terrorism and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization. This arrest marked the first time that associates of al Qaeda were charged with narco-terrorism offenses.
- The Department leads the Afghanistan Threat Finance Center, an interagency effort to identify, disrupt and interdict the sources of funding for insurgent and terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan.
- The Department conducted a successful investigation that led to the arrest, extradition and conviction of Viktor Bout – one of the world's most notorious arms traffickers – for conspiring to sell weapons, including surface-to-air missile systems and armor piercing rocket launchers, to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated terrorist organization.
Protecting the American People from Violent and Other Crimes
Violent crime rates have steadily declined in the last five years as the Department has successfully prosecuted national, international gangs and traditional organized crime groups. The Department has aggressively pursued fighting traditional organized crime groups like La Cosa Nostra (LCN) while addressing evolving and emerging threats – from street gangs to transnational organized crime groups – which continue to pose significant threats to the safety and security of our communities.
- In May 2013, the Department announced that three members of the Los Zetas Cartel – Julian Zapata Espinoza, aka “Piolin,” Ruben Dario Venegas Rivera, aka “Catracho,” and Jose Ismael Nava Villagran, aka “Cacho,” – pleaded guilty to the murder of ICE Special Agent Jaime Zapata and the attempted murder of ICE Special Agent Victor Avila in Mexico. A fourth co-conspirator, Los Zetas member Francisco Carbajal Flores, aka “Dalmata,” pleaded guilty to racketeering charges and as an accessory after the fact to the murder and attempted murder of the ICE agents.
- On July 7, 2014, a six-month trial in Camden, New Jersey culminated in the conviction of Nicodemo S. Scarfo, a member of the Lucchese crime family of La Cosa Nostra (LCN) and Salvatore Pelullo, an associate of the Lucchese and Philadelphia LCN families. They were convicted of all the counts against them, including racketeering conspiracy and related offenses, as well as securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and obstruction of justice. Two other defendants, William and John Maxwell, were also convicted for their role in taking over a Texas corporation so the LCN members and their cohorts could steal from the company and make lavish personal purchases.
- Since the beginning of 2011, EOIR's Immigration Fraud Prevention Program has referred for investigation or provided support to federal and state authorities in dozens of civil and criminal cases involving the unauthorized practice of law, also known as notario fraud. In June 2011, the department, along with federal partners, launched the National Initiative to Combat Immigration Services Scams. The department has since convened a NotarioTask Force, which includes representatives from across the agency and meets to take action against notario fraud.
- On April 24, 2014, the Department announced that Arturo Gallegos Castrellon, a/k/a “Benny,” was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction after trial for racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, and narcotics trafficking. Castrellon and 34 others were indicted in March 2011, having been charged as members and associates of Barrio Azteca, a violent, Juarez, Mexico transnational gang. The defendants were charged with RICO crimes related to murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to murder persons in a foreign country, narcotics trafficking, trafficking in stolen vehicles, kidnaping, obstruction of justice and money laundering. Castrellon and others were charged with the March 13, 2010 murder in Juarez, Mexico of U.S. Consulate employee Leslie Enriquez, her husband Arthur Redelfs, and Jorge Salcido Ceniceros, the husband of another U.S. Consulate employee. All three were ambushed and shot to death after leaving a child’s birthday party. Of the 35 defendants charged, 26 were convicted, one committed suicide before the conclusion of his trial, and six are awaiting extradition. U.S. law enforcement officials are actively seeking to apprehend the two remaining fugitives in this case, including Eduardo Ravelo, an FBI Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitive.
- Throughout 2013 and 2014, the Department targeted the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) with a series of indictments, including a 36-defendant indictment in late 2013. The ABT was a powerful, race-based Texas state-wide organization operating inside and outside state and federal prisons throughout the State of Texas and the United States. Through assault, murder and other acts of violence, ABT protected its criminal money-making enterprises, including narcotics trafficking, identity theft, counterfeiting, and check fraud, and also enforced internal discipline. These efforts culminated in the conviction of 73 ABT members and associates, on charges ranging from racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault in aid of racketeering, firearms offenses, and obstruction of justice. This investigation and prosecution was extremely successful, convicting every high ranking member of the ABT and all but dismantling the entire criminal network.
- Department prosecutors have vigorously prosecuted the most notorious national and international violent gangs operating in U.S. cities and along the Southwest border, including:
- MS-13 in North Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia, Washington, D.C., Texas, New York and California;
- Bloods in Nevada, Virginia and Tennessee;
- Latin Kings in Illinois, Texas, Maryland, North Carolina and Indiana.
The Department has successfully arrested and prosecuted large numbers of dangerous fugitives.
Since 2009, the Department has:
Arrested 33 fugitives that have been featured on the USMS 15 Most Wanted list.
Arrested 930,050 fugitives and cleared 1,272,738 felony warrants.
Arrested 27,774 homicide suspects.
Arrested 29,012 gang members.
Directed 22 targeted anti-gang initiatives that led to the arrest of 4,207 gang members.
Arrested 4,670 international and foreign fugitives.
Extradited 5,532 fugitives to face justice.
Arrested 86,490 fugitive sex offenders, closing 113,024 sex offender warrants.
Initiated 19,541 Adam Walsh Act investigations.
Recovered 586 missing children in coordination with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and made 477 arrests in connection with those arrests.
The Department is working to hold accountable those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon Disaster. The Department is committed to holding accountable those who violated the law in connection with the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.
- In November 2012, the department reached the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history with BP. BP pleaded guilty to 11 felony manslaughter charges, environmental crimes, and obstruction of Congress and was sentenced to pay $4 billion in criminal fines and penalties.
- In January 2013, Transocean Deepwater Inc. agreed to plead guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and paid a total of $1.4 billion in civil and criminal fines and penalties, for its conduct in relation to the Deepwater Horizon disaster, including a record-setting $1 billion to resolve Clean Water Act civil claims. Under the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States Act of 2012 (RESTORE Act), eighty percent of the civil penalty received will be used to fund projects in and for the Gulf states for the environmental and economic benefit of the region.
- In February 2012, the department announced an agreement with MOEX under, which MOEX paid $70 million in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and spent $20 million to facilitate land acquisition projects in several Gulf States to preserve and protect in perpetuity habitat and resources important to water quality.
- Testimony is complete in the first and second phases of the civil trial against BP and other defendants. On September 4, 2014, the court ruled on the issues tried in phase one and concluded – among other things – that gross negligence and willful misconduct by BPXP resulted in the explosion and blowout at Macondo Well and Deepwater Horizon, as well as the discharge of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. On January 15, 2015, the court ruled on phase 2 and found that 3.19 million barrels of oil flowed into the Guld of Mexico. These two rulings established the maximum possible pentalty that the court can assess against BPXP or Anadarko.
- The next phase of trial—to determine a Clean Water Act civil penalty against Defendants BP and Anadarko—began on January 20 and concluded on February 2, 2015. Post-trial submissions to the court are scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2015.
The Department is using innovative law enforcement strategies to prosecute cyber and intellectual property crime. The Department has advanced the fight against intellectual property crime, which threatens the global economy and stifles innovation and creativity, as well as global cyber threats, which can disrupt critical infrastructure such as the power grid, nuclear power plants, financial and banking institutions, transportation systems and vital communication systems. Cybercrime also plays a key role in the theft of classified, personal identification information, and valuable intellectual property. The Department’s notable efforts include:
- Dismantling an Extremely Damaging Botnet and Prosecuting its Administrator: In 2014, the Department led a multi-national effort to disrupt the Gameover Zeus Botnet – a global network of infected victim computers used by cyber criminals to steal millions of dollars from businesses and consumers – and unsealed criminal charges in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Omaha, Nebraska, against Evgeniy Mikhailovich Bogachev, a Russian national who served as an administrator of the botnet. In a related action, U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials worked together to seize computer servers central to the malicious software or “malware” known as Cryptolocker, a form of “ransomware” that encrypts the files on victims’ computers until they pay a ransom. The Department obtained court authorization for the FBI to provide victim information to Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) around the world and to private industry partners in a position to assist victims in ridding their computers of the Gameover Zeus malware.
- Creating Cybersecurity Unit: In the fall of 2014, the Criminal Division created the Cybersecurity Unit within the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section. The new unit will strive to ensure that cyber security legislation is shaped to most effectively protect our nation’s computer networks and individual victims from cyber attacks, engage in extensive outreach to facilitate cooperative relationships with our private sector, and serve as the central hub for expert advice and legal guidance regarding the criminal electronic surveillance statutes for both U.S. and international law enforcement conducting complex cyber investigations to ensure that the powerful law enforcement tools are effectively used to bring the perpetrators to justice while also protecting the privacy of every day Americans partners.
- Protecting the Military Supply Chain through Prosecution of an Importer of Counterfeit Parts: In 2014, the Department announced that Peter Picone, 41, of Methuen, Massachusetts, pleaded guilty in federal court in Connecticut to importing thousands of counterfeit integrated circuits from China and Hong Kong and then reselling them to U.S. customers, including contractors supplying them to the U.S. Navy for use in nuclear submarines. According to court filings, from 2007 through 2012, Picone conspired with his suppliers in China and Hong Kong to sell millions of dollars’ worth of integrated circuits bearing the counterfeit marks of approximately 35 major electronics manufacturers, including Motorola, Xilinx, and National Semiconductor. Federal agents searched Picone’s business and residence on April 24, 2012, and recovered 12,960 counterfeit integrated circuits.
- Prosecuting the Ringleaders of a Major Point-of-Sale Hacking Scheme: In 2013, the Department completed the successful prosecutions of Adrian-Tiberiu Oprea, 29, of Constanta, Romania, and Iulian Dolan, 28, of Craiova, Romania, who were sentenced to serve 15 years and seven years in prison, respectively, for orchestrating an international, multimillion-dollar scheme to remotely hack into and steal payment card data from hundreds of U.S. merchants’ computers. The defendants and their co-conspirators hacked into several hundred U.S. merchants’ point-of-sale systems (the computers that process transactions when a customer uses a credit card for payment), including 250 Subway restaurant franchises. They stole payment card data belonging to more than 100,000 U.S. cardholders, causing losses of at least $17.5 million in unauthorized charges and remediation expenses. The case marked the first-ever extradition in a cybercrime case under the new extradition treaty with Romania.
- Disrupting and Prosecuting One of the Leading Online Copyright Piracy Enterprises: Federal law enforcement combined novel investigative techniques and superior advocacy skills to disrupt and prosecute the IMAGiNE group, the most far-reaching, prolific, and profitable groups illegally distributing copyrighted material on the Internet. IMAGiNE was responsible for the dissemination of up to 40 percent of the English-language content available for illegal download – in all, tens of thousands of copies of hundreds of new motion picture releases. The prosecution secured guilty pleas from the five leading members of the group and sentences ranging from 23 to 60 months. According to industry experts, the takedown of the IMAGiNE group produced an immediate and widespread disruption in illegal film-theft activity.
The Department has provided unprecedented support for state and local law enforcement partners. From 2009 to 2012, the Department provided $3.6 billion in Justice Assistance Grant funding, including $2 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This critical funding supports states, local governments and tribes in meeting their most pressing criminal justice needs. Over the last four years, the Department’s efforts have helped create and save close to 8,000 law enforcement jobs. For example:
- The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped the Department support more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country, awarding nearly $1 billion to fund the hiring of more than 3,800 new officers. The 2009 program also allowed awarded agencies to retain 881 positions that were in jeopardy of being cut.
- The 2010 appropriation for COPS Hiring Grants funded 1,177 new law enforcement officer positions for a three-year grant term, plus saved 211 jobs nearly lost to cuts. In September 2011, the COPS Office awarded $243 million for nearly 1,021 law enforcement officer positions.
- In June of 2012, COPS awarded $111 million to fund 600 new law enforcement positions, plus save an additional 200 positions in jeopardy of being cut. And in response to the Administration’s goal of providing new career opportunities for men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the COPS Office required that all new hires funded through the 2012 Hiring Program must be recent military veterans.
- To date, the COPS Office has funded the addition of more than 126,000 community policing officers across the country.
- In September of 2013, the COPS Office awarded $127 million in CHP grants to 266 law enforcement agencies to hire and/or rehire 955 full-time career law enforcement officers. Under the 2011 and 2012 program, the COPS Office provided nearly $60 million in hiring funds to agencies that identified the need for school-based policing. In FY2013, 144 grantees committed to deploying 370 SRO positions through school-based policing.
- In September of 2014, the COPS Office awarded $123 million in CHP grants to 215 law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire 944 full-time career law enforcement officers. Under the CHP 2014 program the COPS Office added the topic area of Trust Problems to assist with addressing issues of fairness and impartiality, transparency problems, respect problems, and other trust-related problems.
- In October of 2014 the COPS Office awarded just over $6 million in CAMP grant funds to 10 state law enforcement agencies. The COPS Anti-Methamphetamine Program (CAMP) was designed to advance public safety by providing funding directly to state law enforcement agencies to investigate illicit activities related to the manu¬facture and distribution of methamphetamine.
- The Department has shared more than $1.2 billion in forfeited assets and proceeds with state and local law enforcement agencies and distributed more than $880 million to claimants and victims of crime.
- The Department has revamped and streamlined the process for tribes to apply for funding through the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS). From FY 2009 through 2013, the Department has awarded 1,158 CTAS grants to hundreds of American Indian and Alaskan Native communities totaling more than $525 million.
- The Department has supported public safety partnerships that maximize resources and adopt evidence-based practices that are backed by data and research. Through the Smart Policing Initiative, the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funds innovative collaborations between law enforcement agencies and research institutions in 32 cities.
- The COPS Office has convened national leaders and experts around a wide range of critical law enforcement topics, including relationships between labor and management, body-worn cameras, policing the new economy and the implementation of procedural justice and values-based policing. The Office has also convened leaders around efforts to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and communities of color. This convening function represents a powerful way to quickly assemble leading practitioners and thinkers to help identify crucial issues and make recommendations to the profession.
- The COPS Office Training Program on Fair and Impartial Policing has been provided to over 250 agencies across the nation. This training focuses on the presence of implicit biases linked to ethnicity and race, gender, social class, sexual orientation, religion, body shape, age, and so forth. The training makes personnel aware of their unconscious biases and gives them the skills to activate controlled responses to counteract them. Understanding how human biases can impact officers’ behavior and learning the skills to recognize biases and override their impact is critical to safe, effective, and just policing.
The Department has made an unprecedented commitment to ensuring officer safety. In response to a rise in deadly assaults on our nation’s law enforcement officers, the Department has dedicated funding resources, training and research to protecting those who protect our communities. These efforts have led to increased vigilance and training, helping to decrease officer fatalities by approximately 25 percent since 2011. For example:
- As law enforcement officer deaths spiked in 2010, the Department provided more than $25 million to law enforcement agencies to purchase more than 88,000 bullet-resistant vests. Since 1999, the BVP program has reimbursed more than 13,000 jurisdictions, a total of $277 million in federal funds for the purchase of over one million vests (1,084,081 as of October 17, 2012). In 2012, body armor saved the lives of at least 33 law enforcement and corrections officers. At least 13 of those life-saving vests had been purchased, in part, with BVP funds,
- Developed as part of the Attorney General’s law enforcement officer safety initiative, the VALOR program provides critical training and technical assistance to law enforcement on preventing violence against officers—and ensuring officer resilience and survivability following violent encounters. Since the program’s inception in 2010, VALOR has trained more than 8,800 law enforcement professionals and disseminated more than 8,000 Officer Safety toolkits.
- In 2011, the Department initiated the national Officer Safety and Wellness (OSW) Group. The OSW Group brings together law enforcement leaders and criminal justice practitioners to share their broad perspectives on improving officer safety and wellness. The OSW Group continues to meet and discuss best practices and develop recommendations on a range of safety and wellness issues which are disseminated to the field, and both the COPS Office and BJA have produced related reports and resources which are available on their websites.
- The Department has included officer assistance and support provisions in consent decrees seeking police department reform in New Orleans, Albuquerque and Puerto Rico.
The Department is supporting effective prisoner reentry and reinvestment programs.
- During fiscal year 2013, the Department awarded $62 million Second Chance Act grants to help incarcerated adults and youth rejoin their communities and become productive, law abiding citizens. These grants to state, tribal and local governments and non-profit organizations support reentry strategies that include not only evidence-based corrections and supervision strategies, but also employment assistance, housing, mentoring, substance abuse treatment, family programming and other services designed to reduce recidivism. They also support important research.
- For example, a RAND Corporation’s analysis of correctional education research found that employment after release was 13 percent higher among prisoners who participated in either academic or vocational education programs than among those who did not. Those who participated in vocational training were 28 percent more likely to be employed after release from prison than those who did not receive such training.
- The 20 federal agencies of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, created by the Attorney General in 2011, continue to find concrete ways to remove employment and other barriers to successful reentry. Over the last year, agencies have worked together to assist children of incarcerated parents, improve access to education, employment, housing and health care, and reduce the collateral consequences of a criminal record.
- For example, the “National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction” website, launched with Department support, identifies about 35,000 statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences, or additional punishments, on people convicted of crimes. The website allows searching by state, consequence type, triggering offense category and a number of other salient characteristics. In a related effort, the Attorney General asked Reentry Council agencies to review their regulations with an eye to how and where certain barriers can be eliminated or tailored without compromising public safety. The Department undertook this analysis as well, and as part of his “Smart on Crime” initiative, the Attorney General issued a memorandum directing all Department of Justice components to take collateral consequences into account when proposing any new regulation or guidance.
- Under the banner of Justice Reinvestment, the Justice Department is helping to bring about criminal justice system reforms by reducing corrections spending and reinvesting in public safety strategies. In late January 2014, the BJA-funded Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) State Assessment Report will be released. The report is the result of a public-private partnership with the Pew Charitable Trusts, and describes the progress, challenges, and preliminary outcomes of 17 JRI states from 2010 to summer 2013. This report demonstrates that while it is too early to assess the full impact of justice reinvestment reforms, states have enacted policies that hold promise in reducing prison populations or averting future growth, generating savings while enhancing public safety. In addition to population changes, justice reinvestment has encouraged states to undergo a cultural shift toward greater collaboration, using data to drive decision-making and increased use of evidence-based practices.
Protecting Taxpayer Dollars and Consumers Against Financial Fraud While Ensuring Competitive Markets
The Department has investigated and held accountable those responsible for financial fraud. In 2009, President Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis. Since its formation:
- Task Force members have charged a record number of mortgage fraud-related cases, trained more than 100,000 professionals responsible for awarding and overseeing Recovery Act funds, and held regional summits around the country to discuss strategies, resources and initiatives, as well as to meet with communities most affected by the financial crisis.
- In 2012, as part of the Task Force, the Attorney General launched the Consumer Protection Working Group, consisting of federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies, as well as state and local partners, to confront and combat, through prosecution and education, consumer-related fraud, including schemes targeting vulnerable populations, such as the unemployed, those in need of payday loans, and the elderly. The working group also focuses on scams that exploit those in search of government grants and other federal assistance through telemarketing and use of third-party payment processors, which also can threaten the safety and soundness of our financial institutions, as well as active-duty military and veterans.
- In addition, the Department plays a leadership role in the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (“RMBS”) Working Group of the Task Force. This Working Group has secured three record-breaking settlements in the last two years. The settlements with Bank of America for $16.65 billion, Citigroup for $7 billion, and JPMorgan for $13 billion resolved federal and state civil claims against these institutions relating to the packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of RMBS. In addition to penalties, the settlements require significant consumer relief commitments that will assist homeowners.
- In FY 2014, the Department announced a series of settlements in financial fraud cases relating to mortgage origination and/or servicing practices of three large lenders – U.S. Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Metlife Bank, and SunTrust Mortgage, Inc. These four settlements resulted in recoveries of over $1.9 billion to resolve federal and, in the latter matter, state claims. In addition, the Department has filed suit against Wells Fargo Bank and Kurt Lofrano, a bank Vice President, for engaging in faulty underwriting. The financial practices of these institutions caused significant losses for a Federal Housing Administration insurance fund.
- In February 2015, the Department announced a $1.375 billion settlement with Standard & Poor’s. The groundbreaking, largest-of-its kind agreement resolved the Department’s 2013 lawsuit against S&P, along with parallel lawsuits filed by 19 states and the District of Columbia. Each of the lawsuits alleged that investors incurred substantial losses on Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities and Collateralized Debt Obligations, financial instruments that were at the heart of the financial crisis, for which S&P issued inflated ratings. Other allegations asserted that S&P falsely represented that its ratings were objective, independent and uninfluenced by S&P’s business relationships with the investment banks that issued the securities.
- On October 24, 2012, the Department filed a $1 billion civil mortgage fraud lawsuit against Bank of America Corporation and its predecessors Countrywide Financial Corporation and Countrywide Home Loans Inc. for engaging in a scheme to defraud the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), causing more than $1 billion in losses and countless foreclosures. The case was tried to a jury in September and October of 2013. The jury found for the United States, entering its verdict on November 15, 2013. On July 30, 2014, after extensive post-trial briefing, the Court assessed a $1.2 billion civil penalty against the defendant companies under the Financial Institutions Reforms, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) and a $1 million FIRREA civil penalty against Rebecca Mairone, the Chief Operating Officer of the bank’s Full Spectrum Lending division. The bank is expected to appeal the decision.
- In criminal matters, members of the Task Force have, in the past three years alone, prosecuted and secured convictions of dozens of corporate and individual defendants involved in securities fraud and related investment fraud, mortgage fraud and Ponzi schemes. These include, among others, the following:
- Lloyds Banking Group plc, which entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice on July 28, 2014 to pay an $86 million penalty for manipulation of submissions for the London InterBank Offered Rate (LIBOR), a leading global benchmark interest rate.
- RBS Securities Japan Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Bank of Scotland plc (RBS) that engages in investment banking operations with its principal place of business in Tokyo, Japan, which, on January 6, 2014, was sentenced to pay a $50 million fine for its role in manipulating the Japanese Yen LIBOR. In addition, RBS plc, the Edinburgh, Scotland-based parent company of RBS Securities Japan, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the government requiring RBS plc to pay an additional $100 million penalty.
- Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen-Boerenleenbank B.A. (Rabobank), which entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice on October 29, 2013 to pay a $325 million penalty to resolve violations arising from Rabobank's submissions for LIBOR and the Euro Interbank Offered Rate (Euribor). A criminal information was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). The information charged Rabobank with wire fraud for its role in manipulating LIBOR and Euribor. In addition to the $325 million penalty, the DPA required the bank to admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct as described in an extensive statement of facts and required Rabobank's cooperation with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation. Together with approximately $740 million in criminal and regulatory penalties imposed by other agencies in actions arising out of the same conduct by Rabobank, the Justice Department's $325 million criminal penalty brought the total amount to be paid by Rabobank to more than $1 billion.
- Former Rabobank Japanese Yen derivatives trader, Takayuki Yagami, who pleaded guilty on June 10, 2014 for his role in a conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud by manipulating Rabobank’s Yen LIBOR submissions to benefit his trading positions.
- Two Rabobank derivative traders, Anthony Allen and Anthony Conti, who, on October 16, 2014, were charged in a superseding indictment for their alleged roles in a scheme to manipulate the U.S. Dollar and Yen LIBOR. Additionally, former traders Tetsuya Motomura, Paul Thompson and Paul Robson, were charged in a prior indictment. Robson pled guilty to one count of the indictment on August 18, 2014.
- UBS Securities Japan Co., Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of UBS AG, which was sentenced on September 18, 2013 for its role in manipulating LIBOR. UBS Securities Japan pleaded guilty on Dec. 19, 2012, to one count of engaging in a scheme to defraud counterparties to interest rate derivative trades by secretly manipulating LIBOR benchmark interest rates, and agreed, in connection with that plea, to pay a $100 million fine. In addition, UBS AG, the Zurich-based parent company of UBS Securities Japan, agreed, as part of a non-prosecution agreement, to pay an additional $400 million penalty, to admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct as set forth in an extensive statement of facts, and to continue cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation. Together with approximately $1 billion in regulatory penalties and disgorgement, the Justice Department's criminal penalties brought the total amount of the resolution to more than $1.5 billion.
- Two former derivatives brokers and a former cash broker employed by London-based brokerage firm ICAP, who were criminally charged on September 25, 2013. Darrell Read, who resides in New Zealand, and Daniel Wilkinson and Colin Goodman, both of England, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and two counts of wire fraud in a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court alleging that the three defendants executed a sustained and systematic scheme to move Japanese Yen LIBOR in a direction favorable to the trading positions of their trading desk's largest client, a senior trader at UBS AG in Tokyo.
- Don Langford, the former senior vice president and chief credit officer of TierOne Bank, and James A. Laphen, the former president and chief operating officer, who pled guilty in September 2014 and December 2014, respectively, to defrauding TierOne’s shareholders and submitting false statements to TierOne’s regulators about the bank’s loan portfolio and other assets. In addition, Gilbert G. Lundstrom, TierOne’s former CEO, was indicted in December 2014 for his role in the fraud.
- Terry Kretz, the former chief executive officer of Hanover Financial, LLC (Hanover), who, in August 2014, was sentenced to 168 months in prison, and was ordered to both forfeit and pay restitution of $14.7 million following his guilty plea for his role in orchestrating a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors. In addition, two co-defendants, Daryl Bornstein, a former salesman for Hanover, and Robert Haley, the former Hanover chief financial officer, were also convicted, and sentenced in January 2014 to 60 months and 70 months in prison, respectively.
- ConvergEx Group, LLC, an institutional brokerage firm, which, in December 2013, agreed to pay $18 million, forfeit $12 million, and pay $12.7 million in restitution, for inflating commissions that were charged to customers when executing the orders, and then forging trading confirms and data to conceal the extent of the inflated commissions.
- Jonathan Daspin, the head trader at CGM Limited, and Thomas Lekargeren, a sales trader at a ConvergEx broker-dealer subsidiary, who pleaded guilty in December 2013 for their roles in the ConvergEx fraud described above.
- ArthroCare Corporation, a medical device manufacturer, which entered into an agreement with the Department to pay a $30 million penalty for engaging in a $750 million accounting fraud to manipulate the company’s revenue and earnings as reported to investors. In addition, Michael Baker, ArthroCare’s former chief executive officer, and Michael Gluk, ArthroCare’s former chief financial officer, were convicted in June 2014 after a jury trial, and were sentenced in August 2014, to 20 years’ imprisonment and 10 years’ imprisonment, respectively.
- Former UBS AG executives, Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz and Michael Welty, who, on July 24, 2013, were sentenced to serve time in prison for their participation in frauds related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts. Ghavami was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison and to pay a $1 million criminal fine; Heinz was sentenced to serve 27 months in prison and to pay a $400,000 criminal fine; and Welty was sentenced to serve 16 months in prison and to pay a $300,000 criminal fine.
- Scott N. Powers, the former CEO of Arizona-based mortgage loan originator American Mortgage Specialists Inc. (AMS), and David McMaster, a former officer of AMS, who, on June 28, 2013, were sentenced to serve 96 and 188 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in a $28 million scheme to defraud North Dakota-based BNC National Bank.
- The CEO of Axius Inc. Roland Kaufmann, who was sentenced on June 14, 2013 to serve 16 months in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $450,000 for his role in a conspiracy to bribe purported stock brokers and manipulate the Axius stock.
- Top executives at Virginia's Bank of the Commonwealth, including CEO and Board Chairman Edward Woodard, who were convicted on May 24, 2013 for masking non-performing assets at the bank for their personal benefit. This long-running scheme contributed to the failure of the bank in 2011, which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) estimated would cost the FDIC deposit-insurance fund approximately $268 million.
- Glen Alan Ward, a 12-year federal fugitive, who pleaded guilty on April 8, 2013 to aggravated identity theft and bankruptcy fraud in connection with leading a nearly 15-year foreclosure-rescue scam where he collected more than $1.2 million from more than 800 distressed homeowners and fraudulently postponed foreclosure sales for those homeowners.Rajat Gupta, chairman of an international consulting firm and member of the boards of directors at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble, who was sentenced on October 24, 2012 to two years in prison for participating in an insider trading scheme in which he provided confidential information about Goldman Sachs to his business partner and friend, Raj Rajaratnam.
- Shawn L. Portmann, a former senior vice president and loan officer at Pierce Commercial Bank in Washington, who pleaded guilty on September 18, 2012 to a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the collapse of the bank.
- Former bank executive Joseph M. Braas, who was sentenced to 180 months in prison on September 11, 2012 for his role in a fraud conspiracy that caused the Bank of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania to cease its independent existence.
- Barclays Bank PLC, which agreed on June 27, 2012 to pay $160 million penalty to resolve violations arising from its false submissions for benchmark interest rates used in financial markets around the world.
- Peter Madoff, brother of Bernard Madoff and the former Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Managing Director of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, who pleaded guilty on June 29, 2012 to securities fraud, tax fraud, mail fraud, falsifying records of an investment advisor and making false statements to investors, and was sentenced to the maximum term of 10 years in prison, as well as forfeiture in the amount of $143.1 billion.
- Financier Robert Allen Stanford, who was sentenced on June 14, 2012 to 110 years in prison for orchestrating a $7 billion investment fraud scheme.
- CEO Eric A. Bloom and head trader Charles K. Mosley of Illinois bankrupt Sentinel Management Group Inc., who were indicted on June 1, 2012 for allegedly defrauding more than 70 customers of more than $500 million before the firm collapsed in August 2007. Bloom and Mosley were subsequently convicted and both were sentenced in January 2015 to 14 and 8 year prison terms, respectively.
- Minor Vargas Calvo, president of Costa Rica based Provident Capital Indemnity Ltd., who was convicted on April 20, 2012 for carrying out a half-billion dollar fraud scheme that affected more than 2,000 victims in the United States and abroad.
- Two managing directors and a vice president at Credit Suisse Group, who were charged in 2012 and subsequently convicted for their participation in a scheme to artificially increase the price of mortgage-backed bonds to create the false appearance of profitability, contributing to a $2.6B write-down in March 2008 in Credit Suisse's reported net income.
The Department has secured justice for victims of lending discrimination or fraud. The Department of Justice has made ensuring a level playing field for all qualified borrowers – regardless of race, national origin, or other protected class status – a top priority. In 2010, the Fair Lending Unit was created in the Civil Rights Division to focus on these issues. Since then, the Department has filed or resolved 35 lending matters, including matters protecting the rights of servicemembers, and the settlements in these matters provide for approximately $1.2 billion in monetary relief for individual borrowers and impacted communities.
- In February 2015, the Department filed its first settlement of a case involving allegations of reverse redlining against two Charlotte-area buy here, pay here dealerships and their owner for intentionally targeting African-American customers for unfair and predatory credit practices in the financing of used car purchases.
- In June 2014, the Department filed the largest credit card discrimination settlement in history to resolve allegations that Synchrony Bank, formerly known as GE Capital Retail Bank, discriminated on the basis of national origin by excluding Hispanic borrowers from two of its credit card debt repayment programs. The Department’s investigation was conducted jointly with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The settlement provides $169 million in relief to approximately 108,000 borrowers in the form of monetary payments and the reduction, or complete waiver, of borrowers’ credit card balances.
- In December 2013, the Department announced the government’s largest-ever auto discrimination settlement with Ally Financial Inc. and Ally Bank to resolve allegations that the lender discriminated against African-American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islander borrowers by charging them higher interest rates on auto loans as compared to white borrowers. The Department’s investigation was conducted jointly with the CFPB. Pursuant to the settlement, Ally will pay $80 million to minority victims of discrimination and an $18 million civil monetary penalty to the CFPB. Ally also must refund discriminatory overcharges to borrowers for the next three years unless it significantly reduces disparities in unjustified interest rate markups.
- In July 2012, the Department filed the second-largest fair lending settlement in its history to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo Bank, the largest residential home mortgage originator in the United States, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009. The settlement provides at least $184.3million in compensation for borrowers who were steered into subprime mortgages or who paid higher fees and rates than white borrowers because of their race or national origin. Wells Fargo will also provide $50 million in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in communities around the country where the Department identified large numbers of discrimination victims and which were hard hit by the housing crisis. As of February 2015, 98 percent of the settlement fund has been distributed to affected borrowers.
- In March 2012, the Department played a major role in securing the largest joint federal-state settlement ever - $25 billion – against the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers for robo-signing and other mortgage servicing abuses through substantial financial penalties and extensive consumer relief.
- In December 2011, the Department announced the largest-ever fair lending settlement - $335 million - with Countrywide Financial Corporation to resolve allegations that Countrywide and its subsidiaries engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against more than 200,000 qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in mortgage lending from 2004 through 2008. As of February 2015, 91 percent of the settlement fund has been distributed to affected borrowers.
- The process of victim identification, location, and compensation in the Department’s fair lending resolutions is ongoing. Still, individual borrowers already have received checks for over 90 percent of the $550 million in fair lending settlements between 2011 and 2013.
The Department has vigorously enforced the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA serves to postpone, suspend, terminate or reduce the amount of certain civil obligations so that members of the armed forces can focus their full attention on their military or professional responsibilities without adverse consequences for themselves or their families. Since May 2011, the Department has reached eight settlements with mortgage servicers for foreclosing on servicemembers in violation of the SCRA, including settlements with the five largest mortgage servicers in conjunction with the National Mortgage Settlement. In most circumstances under these settlements, servicemembers who were foreclosed on in violation of the law will receive a minimum of $125,000 plus compensation for lost equity. We expect the National Mortgage Settlement for illegal foreclosures and illegal interest rates under the SCRA will provide approximately $200 million in relief for servicemembers, and in January 2015, the Department announced that mortgage servicers were distributing $123 million to 952 servicemembers for non-judicial foreclosures that violated the SCRA. In May 2014, the Department announced the government’s first SCRA case involving student loans -- a $60 million settlement with Sallie Mae for unlawfully failing to reduce the interest rate on servicemembers’ pre-service student loans to 6%. This decree was entered by the court on September 29, 2014.
The Department launched innovative programs to stop fraud in the residential mortgage-backed securities market. In 2012, the Attorney General launched the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group to maximize the impact of parallel efforts between federal and state law enforcement agencies to focus on fraud in the packaging and sale of RMBS offerings. This working group collaborates on future and current investigations, pools resources and streamlines processes to ensure that when misconduct occurs, justice is sought for the victims. So far, RMBS Working Group members have announced several law enforcement actions including:
- On February 3, 2015, the Department of Justice announced a $1.375 billion settlement agreement with the rating agency Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC to resolve allegations that S&P had engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in structured financial products known as Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs). The agreement resolves the department’s 2013 lawsuit against S&P, along with the suits of 19 states and the District of Columbia. Each of the lawsuits allege that investors incurred substantial losses on RMBS and CDOs for which S&P issued inflated ratings that misrepresented the securities’ true credit risks. Other allegations assert that S&P falsely represented that its ratings were objective, independent and uninfluenced by S&P’s business relationships with the investment banks that issued the securities.
- On August 21, 2014, the Department of Justice announced a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America Corporation – the largest civil settlement with a single entity in American history – to resolve federal and state claims against Bank of America and its former and current subsidiaries, including Countrywide Financial Corporation and Merrill Lynch. As part of this global resolution, the bank agreed to pay a $5 billion penalty under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) – the largest FIRREA penalty ever – and provide billions of dollars of relief to struggling homeowners, including funds that will help defray tax liability as a result of mortgage modification, forbearance or forgiveness.
- In July 2014, the Department reached a $7 billion settlement with Citigroup Inc. to resolve federal and state civil claims related to Citigroup’s conduct in the packaging, securitization, marketing, sale and issuance of RMBS between 2006 and 2007. The resolution included a $4 billion civil penalty – the largest penalty to date under the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) – and requires Citigroup to provide relief to underwater homeowners, distressed borrowers, and affected communities.
- On November 19, 2013, the Justice Department secured a record $13 billion global settlement with JPMorgan - the largest settlement with a single entity in American history – to resolve federal and state civil claims arising out of the packaging, marketing, sale and issuance of residential mortgage-backed securities by JPMorgan, Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual prior to Jan. 1, 2009. As part of the settlement, JPMorgan acknowledged it made serious misrepresentations to the public - including the investing public - about numerous RMBS transactions. The resolution also requires JPMorgan to provide much needed relief to underwater homeowners and potential homebuyers, including those in distressed areas of the country.
- In August 2013, the Justice Department, as part of the ongoing work of the RMBS Working Group, filed a civil lawsuit against Bank of America Corporation and certain of its affiliates (BOA) for defrauding investors in connection with the sale of more than $850 million of RMBS. The complaint alleges BOA lied to investors about the relative riskiness of the mortgage loans backing the RMBS, made false statements after intentionally not performing proper due diligence and filled the securitization with a disproportionate amount of risky mortgages originated through third party mortgage brokers.
- In November 2012, Working Group Co-Chair, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a Martin Act complaint against Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and its affiliates for making fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions to promote the sale of RMBS to investors.
- Also in November 2012, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a RMBS Working Group partner, charged J.P. Morgan Securities LLC with misleading investors in offerings of residential mortgage-backed securities.
- At the same time, the SEC also announced charges against Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC with misleading investors in offerings of residential mortgage-backed securities. SEC Acting Director of Enforcement George Canellos is an RMBS Working Group Co-Chair.
- Both JP Morgan and Credit Suisse agreed to settlements with the SEC in which they will pay more than $400 million combined, and the SEC plans to distribute the money to harmed investors.
- In October 2012, New York Attorney General Schneiderman filed a Martin Act lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (formerly known as Bear Stearns & Co. Inc.), JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A., and EMC Mortgage LLC (formerly known as EMC Mortgage Corporation) for making fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions to promote the sale of residential mortgage-backed securities to investors.
The Department has successfully prosecuted international cartels and domestic collusion conspiracies: The Department has prosecuted corporations and individuals engaged in price fixing, bid rigging, market and customer allocation, and other fraud that hurts the American consumer. Since January 2009, 365 criminal cases have been filed and more than $4.9 billion in criminal fines have been obtained. In the period 2010-2014, the average prison sentence in division cases was 25 months, up from 20 months in the period 2000-2009. Charges were brought in a variety of important industries, including financial services, auto parts, liquid crystal display (LCD), air transportation, real estate, coastal shipping and environmental services. Results include:
- As a result of the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry, to date, 32 corporations and 48 executives have been charged resulting in more than $2.4 billion in criminal fines–including the second and third largest criminal fines ever and landmark prison sentences against the culpable executives.
- After a successful conviction of Taiwan-based AU Optronics, its Houston-based subsidiary, and former top executives for their involvement in a price-fixing conspiracy involving LCD panels, for the first time ever, a jury determined that the conspirators’ gain from their illegal conduct was at least $500 million, raising the potential fine for each company above the statutory maximum of $100 million. AU Optronics was sentenced to pay a $500 million fine, matching the largest fine ever imposed against a company for violating the U.S. antitrust laws. On July 10, 2014, the Ninth Circuit affirmed these convictions along with the $500 million fine.
- The division’s ongoing investigation into the municipal bond industry to date has resulted in charges against 20 former industry executives, and nearly $750 million in restitution, penalties and disgorgement to federal and state agencies was obtained through settlements with UBS, Wachovia Bank, JP Morgan Chase, GE Funding Capital, and Bank of America. To date, 17 financial services executives and one corporation have been convicted, including three former UBS executives who were convicted at trial for their roles in conspiracies involving investment contracts for the proceeds of municipal bonds.
- As part of the division’s commitment to combat financial fraud, the investigation of collusion in the U.S. real estate market has resulted in charges against 100 individuals and three companies engaged in collusive schemes aimed at eliminating competition at real estate foreclosure auctions. Following a four-week trial, the Division obtained convictions against Andrew B. Katakis and Donald M. Parker March 11, 2014.
- Additional efforts to root out financial fraud have led to charges against 16 individuals and five companies as part of an ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraud related to municipal tax lien auctions in New Jersey. To date, 12 individuals and three companies have pleaded guilty.
- The division’s ongoing investigation into conspiratorial conduct in the market for coastal water freight transportation services has resulted in three companies and six individuals pleading guilty or being convicted at trial and $46 million in criminal fines. The individuals who pleaded guilty were sentenced to jail terms ranging from seven months to five years, the longest sentence ever imposed for a single count violation of the Sherman Act. Trial against a seventh individual is scheduled for January 2015.
- In the LIBOR (London InterBank Offered Rate)/Euribor investigation, the Division, in conjunction with the Criminal Division, obtained a conviction against Rabobank, which agreed to pay $325 million in criminal penalties, and, more recently, a conviction against Lloyds Banking Group plc, which agreed to pay $86 million in criminal penalties The Division also filed criminal charges against eight former traders and three former brokers for their roles in manipulating LIBOR and/or Euribor benchmark interest rates. In all, the Division has obtained $561 million in criminal fines and penalties in this ongoing investigation, and the total global criminal and regulatory fines, penalties, and disgorgement obtained by enforcement authorities is over $4 billion. The broader investigation relating to LIBOR and other benchmark rates has required, and has greatly benefited from, a diligent and wide-ranging cooperative effort among various enforcement agencies both in the United States and abroad.
- The Antitrust Division achieved its first successfully litigated extradition on an antitrust charge. Romano Pisciotti, an Italian national and a former manager of Parker ITR S.r.l.’s Oil & Gas Business Unit, a rubber hose manufacturer, was arrested in Germany and was extradited on April 3, 2014, for participating in a conspiracy to rig bids, fix prices and allocate market shares of marine hose sold in the United States and elsewhere. He pleaded guilty to a one-count felony indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Ft. Lauderdale and was sentenced to serve two years in prison and to pay a $50,000 criminal fine.
- John Bennett, a Canadian national, was extradited from Canada on November 14, 2014 on a charge of participating in a conspiracy to pay kickbacks and commit fraud at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-designated Superfund site Federal Creosote, located in Manville, New Jersey. He was also charged with a related count for major fraud against the United States related to contracts obtained at site. Bennett was the former Chief Executive Officer with Bennett Environmental Inc., a Canadian-based company that treated and disposed of contaminated soil. According to the indictment, Bennett provided kickbacks to Gordon McDonald, the project manager at the Federal Creosote site, in order to influence the award of sub-contracts at the site and inflate the prices charged to the EPA by the prime contractor. McDonald, a former project manager for a prime contractor at both Federal Creosote and Diamond Alkali, in Newark, was convicted of engaging in separate bid-rigging, kickback and fraud conspiracies with three subcontractors in return for kickbacks of more than $1.5 million. He was also convicted of engaging in an international money laundering scheme, major fraud against the United States, committing two tax violations and obstruction of justice. On March 3, 2014, McDonald, was sentenced to serve the longest prison sentence ever imposed involving an antitrust crime -- 14 years in prison -- for participating in multiple bid-rigging, fraud and kickback schemes.
The Department has prevented anticompetitive mergers and preserved market competition: Since 2009, the Department has challenged 80 anticompetitive mergers, including transactions in the consumer goods, transportation, technology, and telecommunications industries, and challenged 29 civil non-merger matters, focusing on contracting practices that reduced competition in industries such as health care, credit card network services, e-books and high-tech employment. Notable merger cases and issues include:
- Requiring US Airways and American Airlines to divest facilities at seven key airports to enhance system-wide competition and settle the department's merger challenge. Divestitures at airports in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and near Washington, D.C., open the door for competition resulting in more choices and more competitive airfares for consumers.
- Suing to challenge Bazaarvoice's consummated acquisition of PowerReviews, a transaction that combined the dominant commercial supplier of ratings and reviews platforms in the United States with its closest rival—the court found that the merger was likely to extinguish price competition and substantially diminish the pace of innovation in that market. A settlement requiring Bazaarvoice to divest the assets it acquired from PowerReviews and adhere to other requirements to fully restore competition is pending with the court.
- Requiring ConAgra Foods, Cargill, CHS, and Horizon Milling to divest four competitively significant flour mills to Miller Milling in order to proceed with the formation of Ardent Mills, a flour milling joint venture, preserving flour milling competition in four regions of the country encompassing large cities such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Minneapolis, and the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Area.
- Informing the parties that the Antitrust Division would file a lawsuit seeking to block the planned acquisition by Louisiana-Pacific of Ainsworth Lumber, preserving competition in the market for the production of oriented strand board sold to customers in the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest regions of the United States.
- Requiring Anheuser-Busch InBev and Grupo Modelo to divest Modelo's entire U.S. business – including licenses of Model brand beers, its most advanced brewery, Piedras Negras, its interest in Crown Imports LLC and other assets – to Constellation Brands Inc., in order to go forward with their merger. The remedy maintains competition in the beer industry nationwide.
- Blocking the H&R Block Inc./TaxACT deal—the Antitrust Division's first merger case litigated to judgment successfully since 2003.
- Suing to block AT&T Inc.'s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA Inc.—the companies ultimately abandoned the proposed deal, resulting in a victory for consumers.
- Requiring structural and/or behavioral conditions on transactions, such as Ticketmaster/LiveNation, Google/ITA, International Paper/Temple-Inland, and Comcast/NBCU, remedying the competitive harm to consumers while allowing the companies to proceed with their transactions in a way that did not threaten competition.
- Obtaining full relief in the UTC/Goodrich merger, the largest aircraft industry merger ever. This case featured close coordination with the European Commission.
- Requiring Humana and Arcadian Management Services to divest Arcadian's Medicare Advantage health insurance plans in 51 counties across Arizona, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. The divestitures preserve competition so that Medicare beneficiaries, primarily senior citizens, benefit from lower prices, better quality, and more innovative products for their health care needs.
- Challenging a tour bus joint venture, Twin America, formed by two companies that had competed head-to-head in the provision of "hop-on, hop-off" bus tour services in New York City.
Notable civil, non-merger cases and issues include:
- Lawsuit against American Express, MasterCard and Visa, challenging their rules restricting price competition. The department reached a settlement with Visa and MasterCard, and trial against American Express began on July 7.
- Joint policy statement with the Federal Trade Commission issued in April 2014 makes clear that properly designed threat information sharing is not likely to raise antitrust concerns and can help secure the nation's networks of information and resources. The policy statement is designed to reduce uncertainty for those who want to share information to prevent and combat cyberattacks.
- Lawsuit and resulting settlement reached with eBay that prevents the company from entering into or maintaining agreements with other companies restraining employee recruitment and hiring, substantially the settlement as those reached with Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, and Pixar in September 2010, and with Lucasfilm in December 2010.
- Lawsuit and a three-week trial, after which a court found that Apple Inc. violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to raise e-book prices and end e-book retailers' freedom to compete on price. The department's remedy requires Apple to modify its agreements with five publishers – Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC (which does business as Macmillan)–provides for a court-appointed external monitor, includes anti-retaliatory provisions to protect publishers and prohibits Apple from engaging in future anticompetitive conduct.
- Settlement reached with five book publishers–Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC (which does business as Macmillan)–for conspiring to end e-book retailers' freedom to compete on price, take control of pricing from e-book retailers and substantially increase the prices that consumers pay for e-books.
- Lawsuit and resulting settlement with United Regional Health Care System—the first case brought by the Department since 1999 challenging a monopolist with engaging in traditional anticompetitive unilateral conduct.
- Settlement with Morgan Stanley that requires it to pay $4.8 million for violating the antitrust laws by entering into an agreement with KeySpan Corporation that restrained competition in the New York City electricity capacity market.
The Department has established the most effective strike force in history to protect Medicare money: In 2009, the Attorney General and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary announced the creation of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) and renewed their commitment to fighting health care fraud as a Cabinet-level priority at both Departments.
- Since announcing HEAT in May 2009, the Medicare Fraud Strike Forces have conducted seven nationwide takedowns resulting in charges against almost 700 individuals with schemes involving nearly $2.2 billion in fraudulent billings. Strike Force operations since their inception in 2007 have charged more than 2,000 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $6 billion.
The Department has returned historic amounts of taxpayer dollars through the False Claims Act. Since 2009, the Department has recovered more than $23.7 billion from False Claims Act cases, with more than $15.2 billion of those recoveries from cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. False Claims Act recoveries return losses to the federal agency that was defrauded, replenishing federal funds, and send a message to potential scammers that ultimately they will be required to pay up to three times the amount of their fraud. Total recoveries since January of 2009 are more than half of the recoveries obtained since Congress amended the False Claims Act 28 years ago to strengthen the statute. Results of these efforts include:
- In FY 2014, the Department reported recoveries of $5.69 billion under the False Claims Act - the largest annual recovery of its type in history. In fiscal year 2014, the department recovered an unprecedented $3.1 billion from banks and other financial institutions involved in making false claims for federally insured mortgages and loans. False claims against federal health care programs such as Medicare and Medicaid accounted for another $2.3 billion. These amounts reflect federal losses only. In many of these cases, the department was instrumental in recovering additional billions of dollars for consumers and state treasuries.
- The number of qui tam suits filed in FY 2014 2014 exceeded 700 for the second year in a row. This nearly doubles the number since 2009, when 433 such matters were filed with the Department. In FY 2014, nearly $3 billion was recovered as a result of whistleblower suits, and since 2009, the Department’s total recoveries in such suits have climbed to more than $15.9 billion.
- In August 2014, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP), a manufacturer and vendor of information technology products and services, agreed to pay $32.5 million to resolve allegations that it overcharged the U.S. Postal Service for products between October 2001 and December 2010; Community Health Systems Inc., the nation’s largest operator of acute care hospitals, agreed to pay $98.15 million to resolve multiple lawsuits alleging that the company knowingly billed government health care programs for inpatient services that should have been billed as outpatient or observation services; McKesson Corporation agreed to pay $18 million to resolve allegations that it improperly set temperature monitors used in shipping vaccines under its contract with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the United States intervened against defendants in two whistleblower lawsuits alleging Evercare Hospice and Palliative Care submitted false claims for the Medicare hospice benefit.
- In September 2014, Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC agreed to pay $56.5 million to resolve allegations that it improperly marketed and promoted several drugs it manufactures and sells.
- In October 2014: Extendicare Health Services Inc. and its subsidiary Progressive Step Corporation agreed to pay $38 million to the United States and eight states to resolve allegations that it billed Medicare and Medicaid for materially substandard nursing services, resulting in the largest failure-of-care settlement with a chain-wide skilled nursing facility in the department’s history; the Boeing Company, an aerospace and defense industry giant, paid $23 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims for labor charges on maintenance contracts with the U.S. Air Force; DaVita Healthcare Partners Inc., one of the nation’s leading dialysis services providers, agreed to pay $350 million to resolve claims that it paid kickbacks to induce the referral of patients to its dialysis clinics; Dignity Health agreed to pay the United States $37 million to settle allegations that 13 of its hospitals knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare and TRICARE. Dignity, formerly known as Catholic Healthcare West, is one of the five largest hospital systems in the nation with 39 hospitals in three states.
- In November 2014, CareAll Management LLC and its affiliated entities agreed to pay $25 million plus interest to the United States and the state of Tennessee to resolve allegations that it submitted false and upcoded home healthcare billings to the Medicare and Medicaid programs.
- In December 2014, Supreme Foodservice GmbH and Supreme Foodservice FZE pleaded guilty to major fraud against the United States and paid a criminal fine of $288.36 million, in connection with a contract to provide food and water to the U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan. Supreme Group B.V. and several of its subsidiaries also agreed to pay an additional $146 million to resolve a related civil lawsuit, as well as two separate civil matters, alleging false billings to the Department of Defense.
- In January 2015, Daiichi Sankyo Inc., a global pharmaceutical company with its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, paid $39 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying kickbacks to induce physicians to prescribe Daiichi drugs, including Azor, Benicar, Tribenzor and Welchol. In February 2015, Community Health Systems Professional Services Corporation and three affiliated New Mexico hospitals paid $75 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by making illegal donations to county governments which were used to fund the state share of Medicaid payments to the hospitals.
Among the largest recoveries in the history of the False Claims Act have been those against companies alleged to have promoted pharmaceuticals for treatment of certain illnesses that had not been approved by the FDA. These include:
- In 2012, a record $3 billion False Claims Act recovery and Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act criminal fine from global health care giant, GlaxoSmithKline, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations that it unlawfully promoted the prescription drugs Paxil, Wellbutin, Advair, Lamictal, Zofran, Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent, and Valtrex; and reported false prices;
- In 2013, a $2.2 billion recovery and Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act criminal fine from global health care giant, Johnson & Johnson, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations that it unlawfully promoted the prescription drugs Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA.
The Department has vigorously protected the health, safety, and economic security of American consumers. Operating through the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, the Department protects vulnerable consumers from unsafe food and medical products and from fraud and abuse, including financial fraud and telemarketing fraud. It also defends the programs and initiatives of the major consumer protection agencies when they are challenged by regulated industry. Examples of recent successes include:
On January 27, 2015, Juan Alejandro Rodriguez Cuya was sentenced to 210 months in prison for his operation of Angeluz Florida Corporation in Miami and call centers in Peru that lied to and threatened Spanish-speaking victims into paying fraudulent settlements for nonexistent debts. According to evidence presented at trial, Rodriguez Cuya’s employees in Peru used Internet-based telephone calls to Spanish-speaking victims in the United States, threatened lawsuits, arrest, deportation, and forfeiture of property for refusing delivery of certain products and claimed the victims owed thousands of dollars in fines. In reality, the victims had never ordered these products and nothing had been delivered, but Rodriguez Cuya’s employees claimed that the consumers could resolve the threatened fines if they immediately paid a “settlement fee.” A phone room in Miami collected the fees from thousands of victims. Rodriguez Cuya was convicted of twenty-six counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, and extortion following a two week trial in October. Rodriguez Cuya’s co-defendant Maria Luzula pled guilty halfway through trial and was sentenced to serve 165 months in federal prison.
On December 17, 2014, the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Consumer Protection Branch unsealed a 14-defendant, 131-count criminal indictment in connection with the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak. The outbreak was caused by contaminated vials of preservative-free methylprednisolone acetate (MPA) manufactured by New England Compounding Center (NECC), located in Framingham, Massachusetts. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 751 patients in 20 states were diagnosed with a fungal infection after receiving injections of NECC’s MPA. Of those 751 patients, the CDC reported that 64 patients in nine states died. In addition to producing the contaminated MPA, the investigation uncovered a wide range of criminal wrongdoing at NECC. The charges include racketeering, mail fraud, conspiracy, contempt, structuring, and violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. Barry J. Cadden, part-owner and head pharmacist of NECC, and Glenn A. Chin, NECC’s supervising pharmacist, are charged with racketeering counts that include 25 predicate acts of second-degree murder under the state laws of Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. The indictment also charges twelve other individuals, all associated with NECC, including six other pharmacists, the director of operations, the national sales director, an unlicensed pharmacy technician, two of NECC’s owners, and one other individual.
On November 19, 2014, the United States filed civil complaints and motions seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to immediately put a stop to two related multi-million dollar mail fraud schemes, known as Destiny Research Center and CLGE. The defendants operate two mail fraud schemes in which they send solicitation letters purportedly written by world-renowned psychics to consumers through the U.S. mail. In the letters, the psychics recount a vision revealing that the consumer has the opportunity to dramatically improve his or her financial circumstance. The solicitation letters, targeted at the elderly, ill, and those in perilous financial condition, appear personalized but are actually identical, mass-produced form letters. The solicitations urge victims to purchase various products and services in order to ensure that the foreseen good fortune comes to pass.
On September 19, 2014, a jury convicted two former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) officials and a PCA broker on charges relating to the distribution of salmonella-tainted peanuts and peanut products following a two-month jury trial in Albany, Georgia. Stewart Parnell, the former President and Owner of PCA, and Michael Parnell, a former PCA food broker, were convicted of mail and wire fraud, the introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy. Stewart Parnell was also convicted of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce, and both he and Mary Wilkerson, a former PCA Quality Assurance Manager, were convicted of obstruction of justice.
The Department has expanded efforts to combat corruption at home and abroad. Since 2009, the FCPA Unit has pursued criminal cases against executives, agents, and other individuals engaged in bribery. During that time, the Unit has convicted more than 50 individuals in FCPA and FCPA-related cases, and resolved criminal cases against more than 50 companies with penalties and forfeiture of approximately $3.7 billion, including nine of the top ten FCPA resolutions in history. In 2010, the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section launched a Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative to investigate and prosecute cases to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption. Results of these efforts include:
- Just since 2013, the Department has charged, resolved by plea, or unsealed cases against 25 individuals, and 12 corporations have resolved FCPA violations with combined penalties and forfeiture of more than $1.5 billion.
- The Kleptocracy Initiative has obtained orders that will result in the forfeiture of over $492 million in laundered corruption proceeds and continues to litigate publicly filed cases involving an additional approximately $530 million, including funds corrupt proceeds tied to a former Nigerian dictator, the family of the former president of Taiwan, the second vice president of Equatorial Guinea, and the former governor of Bayelsa.
The Department has made historic progress in combating the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals. Over the past five years, the Department has conducted significant enforcement operations nationwide in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target those involved in illicit diversion of pharmaceuticals. Significant accomplishments include:
- In 2010, the Department reached a landmark settlement with CVS Caremark Corporation over policies and practices that allowed customers to purchase significant quantities of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient for making methamphetamine in clandestine labs. The $77.6 million civil penalty was the largest-ever levied against a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrant for non-compliance.
- In February 2011, Operation Pill Nation I targeted rogue pain clinics in South Florida, an area that has emerged as the pill-mill capital of the U.S. The initiative resulted in 47 arrests, including 27 doctors, the surrender of 92 DEA registrations, the closing of 40 clinics and the seizure of more than $18.9 million in assets.
- In October 2011, Operation Pill Nation II, resulted in the arrest of 57 individuals, including eight physicians and four pharmacists, the surrender of six DEA registrations, and the seizure of assets totaling approximately $311,995.
- In February2012, a physician was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio to more than four terms of life in federal prison for illegally prescribing and dispensing pain pills outside the scope of legitimate medical practice that resulted in the deaths of four people.
- In April 2012, a federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio indicted the owner of 3 pain clinics and 6 of the doctors he hired to satisfy the demand for the illegal diversion of controlled substances in central and southern Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
- In May 2012, the Department reached a settlement with Omnicare Inc., in which the company agreed to pay a $50 million penalty to resolve claims its pharmacies improperly dispensed controlled substances to patients at long-term care facilities around the country.
- In June 2012, the DEA arrested seven doctors and seven of the largest pill clinic owners in Florida as part of a state-wide initiative against illicit diversion of pharmaceutical drugs. Roughly 59 bank accounts were seized and 13 search warrants were executed.
- The DEA's National Prescription Take-Back Initiative has resulted in the removal of more than 2.8 million pounds of prescription medications from circulation since the initiative began in 2010.
The Department has made historic efforts to investigate and prosecute offshore tax evasion. For the last six years, the Department has spearheaded an historic effort to lift the veil on foreign bank secrecy by vigorously investigating and prosecuting U.S. taxpayers who illegally hide assets and income offshore, as well as the foreign banks, bankers and others who facilitate those crimes. For example:
In May 2013, the Department obtained a historic guilty plea and a total payment of $2 billion in restitution and a fine from Credit Suisse AG, the second largest bank in Switzerland, for assisting thousands of U.S. clients to evade their taxes by maintaining undeclared bank accounts for them and helping them conceal those undeclared accounts from the U.S. government through various means. In November 2014, Credit Suisse AG was sentenced for conspiracy to aid and assist U.S. taxpayers in filing false income tax returns and other documents with the Internal Revenue Service. The district court ordered Credit Suisse to pay approximately 1.8 billion dollars to the United States in the form of a fine and restitution.
In August 2013, the Department announced a Program for Non-Prosecution Agreements or Non-Target Letters for Swiss Banks, under which Swiss banks that were not already under investigation had an opportunity to resolve potential criminal exposure in return for providing substantial cooperation to the Department, including submission of detailed information regarding those who may have committed tax and tax-related violations.
In December 2014, the Department deferred prosecution of Bank Leumi Group, which included the Bank Leumi le-Israel, the oldest and largest of all bank trust companies in Israel, on charges of aiding and assisting U.S. taxpayers prepare and present false tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service by hiding income and assets in offshore bank accounts in Israel and elsewhere around the world. The deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) required Bank Leumi Group to pay the United States a total of 270 million dollars and to provide the names of more than 1,500 of its U.S. account holders. The unprecedented agreement marks the first time an Israeli bank has admitted to such criminal conduct which spanned for over a ten year period.
In December 2014, the Department obtained a court order allowing the IRS to issue a John Doe summonses to eight institutions, including delivery services and banking institutions, for information related to taxpayers that used the services of Sovereign Management & Legal Ltd to establish, maintain or conceal foreign accounts, assets and entities.
Additional enforcement efforts by the Department and its law enforcement partners have resulted in:
Participation by over 50,000 taxpayers to enter voluntary disclosure programs, resulting in the IRS collecting more than 7 billion dollars in taxes, interest and penalties
Criminal charges against bankers, attorneys, investment advisors and account holders in connection with activities conducted by banks located in Switzerland, India, Israel and the Caribbean
Negotiation of a DPA and civil summons settlement with UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank, under which the U.S. government obtained information related to U.S. taxpayers with undeclared accounts, as well as 780 million dollars in taxes, interest, penalties and disgorgement of illegal profits from the banks
A groundbreaking guilty plea in January 2013 from Wegelin & Co., the oldest Swiss private bank and the first foreign bank to plead guilty to felony tax charges.
Court orders permitting the IRS to issue John Doe summonses directing banks to produce records of correspondent accounts that will assist the IRS in identifying U.S. taxpayers who failed to declare their offshore accounts for U.S. tax purposes.
The Department has protected billions of dollars claimed in abusive tax claims. The Tax Division plays a critical role in the government’s efforts to combat abusive tax shelters. For example:
In February 2013, the district court determined that the transactions engaged in by Dow Chemical Company through a partnership known as Chemtech lacked economic substance and that the Chemtech partnership should be disregarded because it had no purpose other than to create tax benefits. Chemtech Royalty Assoc. LLP v. United States (M.D.La.2013).. The court also imposed penalties. The district court’s opinion was affirmed by the Fifth Circuit on September 2014, and remanded to the district court for determination of the applicability of the 40% penalty.
In August 2013, the Department successfully defended a favorable district court decision in WFC Holdings Corp. v. United States (8th Cir.2013), a case involving a contingent-liability tax shelter. The Eighth Circuit found that the literal language of the Internal Revenue Code supported WFC’s tax treatment of the transaction, but nonetheless disallowed WFC’s asserted tax loss and resulting $82 million tax refund because the transaction lacked economic substance.
In September 2013, the Department prevailed in a case involving BB&T Corporation’s claim for more than $660 million in tax benefits based on a tax-shelter transaction known as Structured Trust Advantaged Repackaged Securities (STARS), which was designed and promoted to subvert the foreign tax credit rules and generate illicit tax benefits to be shared among the transaction’s participants. Salem Financial, Inc. v. United States (Fed.Cl.2013).The court ruled that BB&T was not entitled to the claimed tax benefits and also imposed $112 million in penalties.
December 2013, in a case involving a COBRA shelter, the Supreme Court reversed an adverse Fifth Circuit decision and held that the 40% gross valuation misstatement penalty is applicable when a taxpayer engages in an abusive tax shelter transaction that is disregarded in its entirety for lack of economic substance. United States v. Woods (Sup.Ct.2013).The decision also addressed a thorny partnership jurisdictional issue and held that the district court had jurisdiction to determine the applicability of the 40% penalty in a partnership-level proceeding, distinguishing between the “applicability” determination and the ultimate imposition of the penalty on partners. The Woods decision has favorably impacted several other tax shelter cases pending in various appellate courts.
The Department has saved taxpayers dollars by being more cost efficient. The Attorney General’s Advisory Council for Savings and Efficiencies (SAVE Council) has realized more than $132.2 million in savings and expects to see additional savings through the end of the fiscal year. The following are examples of SAVE Council actions:
- Centralization of IT security and the elimination of redundancy.
- Booking travel online, reducing administrative costs.
- Consolidation of wireless and IT contracts.
- Increased use of video conferencing, reducing travel costs.
- Permanent change of station.
The Department has found record efficiencies in its budget and operations. Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, the Department has identified more than $1.8 billion in savings, efficiencies and rescissions in its budget and operating plan. For example:
- After receiving the fiscal year 2011, fiscal year 2012, and fiscal year 2013 appropriations, the Department identified $467 million, $422 million, and $921 million respectively, in operating plan savings and efficiencies and non-grant program reductions. In FY 2013, the Department identified additional non-pay savings to mitigate the sequestration and avoid furloughs in FY 2013.
- In the fiscal year 2014 President’s Budget, the Department identified $561 million in savings and efficiencies and program savings.
Protecting Against Threats to the Most Vulnerable Populations
The Department has aggressively prosecuted child exploitation and pornography. Since 2009, the Department and its federal partners have conducted more than two dozen global operations targeting organized online groups and more than 5,000 U.S. offenders dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the use of online networking platforms to traffic in child pornography. These international online collectives were thriving marketplaces for the exchange of child pornography and presented a substantial risk to children because membership, communication and hierarchy in the groups incentivized the production of child pornography and encouraged the sexual abuse of children. These operations resulted in safety for numerous child abuse victims who had been suffering at the hands of offenders and whose abuse only stopped upon the arrest and prosecution of their abusers. These efforts include:
- In 2011, the Department, along with federal partners, initiated the largest U.S. prosecution of an international criminal network organized to sexually exploit children - charging 72 individuals for their participation in an international criminal network dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the creation and dissemination of graphic images and videos of child sexual abuse throughout the world. To date, 58 of the 72 charged defendants have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Forty-eight individuals have pleaded guilty, and one was convicted at trial. Many defendants have been sentenced to thirty years in prison or more.
- In March 2013, the Department obtained a life sentence plus five years in prison against an Orlando man who was convicted at trial of several counts relating to sex trafficking and firearms offenses. The evidence at trial established that the defendant transported three minors and two adults to throughout the southeast, and beat them and threatened them with guns to force them to engage in prostitution.
- In July 2013, the Department obtained a 165-year sentence for a Michigan man who was convicted after a jury trial of sexually abusing more than 16 impoverished children in Haiti who were living at a residential facility operated by the defendant that provided shelter, food, clothing and school tuition to Haitian children. The Department also subsequently obtained a $20,000 restitution order against the man to assist in paying for counseling services for his victims.
- In January 2014, the Department obtained a 25-year sentence against a former minister who performed missionary work in Haiti and sexually molested four Haitian female children, between the ages of 11 and 16.
- In March 2014, the Department obtained a 30-year sentence against a U.S. citizen who worked as an English teacher and tutor in Shanghai, China, and had been sexually molesting children under the age of 12 and producing child pornography.
- In July 2014, the Department obtained a 120-year sentence against an U.S. Air Force noncommissioned officer who had been drugging and sexually molesting children, and producing images and videos of that abuse.
- Additionally, since 2009, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces received 281,447 documented complaints of child exploitation, conducted 219,657 investigations and 248,080 forensic exams, which resulted in the arrest of 33,645 individuals. The task forces also trained 226,711 individuals, including law enforcement officers, prosecutors, computer forensic examiners, forensic interviewers, and others.
The Department has launched initiatives to provide counsel to certain populations in immigration proceedings.
In June 2014, the Department announced justice Americorps, an initiative launched in partnership with the Corporation for Community and National Service, which, in September 2014, awarded $1.8 million dollars in grants to enroll approximately 100 lawyers and paralegals as AmeriCorps members to provide legal services to children in immigration proceedings. EOIR plans to provide $2 million for the program in FY 2015.
In April 2013, the Department announced, in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, a nationwide policy for unrepresented immigration detainees with serious mental disorders that may render them mentally incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings. The policy entails implementation of new procedural protections for certain such detainees, including competency inquiries, forensic competency evaluations, and bond hearings. In addition, EOIR will make available a Qualified Representative to unrepresented detainees who are deemed mentally incompetent to represent themselves in immigration proceedings. In FY 2015, EOIR plans to commit $5M for the National Qualified Representative Program (NQRP), the agency’s nationwide program responsible for providing Qualified Representatives under the nationwide policy.
In FY 2015, EOIR plans to commit $200,000 for the Baltimore Representation Initiative for Unaccompanied Children (BRIUC). Through the BRIUC, EOIR is providing contract funding for two attorneys to represent unaccompanied children appearing before the Baltimore Immigration Court. In addition, EOIR’s FY 2016 Request supports continuing these programs, as well as a program increase of $50M for direct legal representation for children.
The Department has expanded the successful Legal Orientation Program.
Since the start of fiscal year 2014, the EOIR’s Legal Orientation Program has expanded to seven additional sites. In addition to providing LOP at two new DHS family detention facilities in Karnes, TX and Dilley, TX, LOP continued to serve the Berks County Family Shelter, in Leesport, PA and is prepared to serve the expected population increase. The LOP expansion also includes new detention sites in Woodstock, IL, Kenosha, WI, Williamsburg, VA and Conroe, TX
The Department has charged a record number of human trafficking cases. Over the past five years, Fiscal Years 2010-2014, the Department has charged a record number of human trafficking cases, involving forced labor, international sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, and coercion.
Through the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and United States Attorney’s Offices, the Department has increased prosecutions of forced labor, international sex trafficking, and adult sex trafficking by 56% over the previous five-year period.
During the same period, the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section and United States Attorneys’ Offices have continued to make significant advances prosecuting child sex trafficking and other crimes involving sexual exploitation of minors in connection with the Innocence Lost National Initiative and Project Safe Childhood.
In 2011, the Department launched the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative, an interagency collaboration among the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor, to streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses.
Following a competitive, interagency nationwide selection process, the Department and its law enforcement partners convened six Phase I Pilot ACTeams around the country.
During Phase I, which spanned fiscal years 2012-2013, prosecutions increased by 119% in ACTeam Districts, compared to 35% nationwide, and the six ACTeam Districts accounted for 58% of the national growth in cases filed, 64% of the national growth in defendants charged, and 56% of the growth in defendants convicted in cases involving victims of forced labor, international sex trafficking, and sex trafficking of adults by force, fraud, and coercion.
Based on the demonstrated success of ACTeam Phase I, the interagency ACTeam Partners are preparing to launch Phase II in 2015.
The Department has continued to expand its bilateral efforts to combat human trafficking networks operating across the U.S.-Mexico border, working with interagency law enforcement partners and Mexican counterparts to advance investigations and prosecutions of Mexican-based sex trafficking networks exploiting victims in both Mexico and the United States.
Significant accomplishments include:
- The Department secured a life sentence against a member of a Mexican sex trafficking ring that used deception, force, and threats to compel undocumented Mexican and Central American women into prostitution in Georgia. Twenty-three defendants were convicted in connection with the case.
- The Department secured a 34-year sentence against a sex trafficker who targeted vulnerable United States citizen women and compelled them into prostitution by increasing their dependence on addictive narcotics that he supplied, and manipulating their debts and access to the addictive drugs to control them.
- The Department secured a 30-year sentence against a labor trafficker who held a victim with cognitive disabilities and the victim’s child in a condition of servitude and compelling them to perform manual labor through threats, violence, and physical restraint. Two other defendants were convicted in connection with the case.
- The Department dismantled a large, transnational organized criminal enterprise that held Ukrainian victims in forced labor in Philadelphia and secured a sentence of life plus 20 years, the longest sentence ever imposed in a forced labor case.
- The Department convicted a Denver-area defendant of holding Filipino nationals in forced labor in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, sentencing the lead defendant to 11 years and securing over $3.7 million in restitution for the victims of the forced labor scheme.
- The Department secured a life sentence against a sex trafficker who exploited young, vulnerable Mexican victims for forced prostitution in New York, using false promises, threats, and violence to maintain control over the victims. Sixteen defendants were convicted in connection with the scheme.
- The Department brought freedom and dignity to undocumented Central American women, convicting the traffickers who threatened and violently abused them to compel them into forced labor and forced prostitution in restaurants and bars on Long Island, N.Y.
- The Department restored the rights and freedom of undocumented Eastern European victims, convicting the trafficker who brutally exploited them in massage parlors in Chicago, branding them with tattoos to claim them as his property. The defendant was sentenced to life.
- The Department secured a life sentence against a gang member in the Eastern District of Virginia for the sex trafficking of victims as young as 12 years old.
- The Department convicted eight defendants who were members of or affiliated with a Los Angeles street gang and who were prostituting teen-age girls. One gang member was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The Department has enforced the rights of people with disabilities to remain in their communities rather than be institutionalized.
- The Division's U.S. v. Georgia case was the first to use our authority under the ADA and Olmstead to demand creation of additional community services instead of institutional services. The settlement provides relief to more than 12,000 Georgians with developmental or mental health disabilities who remained at risk of unnecessary institutionalization more than a decade after the landmark Olmstead v L.C. decision involving these very same state hospitals.
- Since the settlement in Georgia, the Division has completed investigations and entered into Olmstead settlements in Delaware, Virginia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Rhode Island and elsewhere, helping approximately 46,000 people with disabilities return to, or remain in, their communities. The Division is involved in additional significant state-wide investigations.
- In April 2014, the Department entered into a first-of-its-kind settlement agreement with the State of Rhode Island that will provide relief to approximately 3,250 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have been, or who are at risk of, unnecessary segregation in sheltered workshops or facility-based day programs. Under the court-enforceable Consent Decree, individuals with disabilities will have access to an array of services, giving them the opportunity to receive meaningful employment in integrated community settings at competitive wages. More specifically, individuals in the target population will receive services to support a 40 hour week, with the expectation that they will work, on average, in an individualized job at competitive wages for at least 20 hours per week, and will receive wrap-around integrated day activity services instead of being housed during non-work hours in facility-based settings.
- The Division has maintained ADA.gov/Olmstead as a resource for advocates, states and persons with disabilities. It is a resource-rich web page with information and tools on ADA issues.
The Department has responded to a crisis at the southern U.S. Border.
- Per the June 2014 Presidential directive to surge resources to our Southwest border and process cases resulting from the humanitarian situation at the Border, EOIR took a series of steps to help address the influx of people crossing the southern border of the United States. It realigned its adjudicative priorities, and refocused its immigration court resources. As a result, EOIR is providing shorter wait times for a first hearing before an immigration judge for certain defined priority groups, including individuals the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identifies as unaccompanied children and adults with children released on alternatives to detention. In addition, EOIR has committed additional resources to address certain detained cases, which remain a priority, including adults with children, detained, and recent border crossers, detained.
The Department has enforced the Religious Land Use of Institutionalized Persons Act, and in the past five years under Attorney General Holder, the department has:
- Brought the first lawsuit to enforce the institutionalized persons provision of RLUIPA and intervened in two lawsuits to enforce RLUIPA. This marks the first lawsuit regarding the institutionalized persons provisions in which the Civil Rights Division has participated as a party.
- Launched 37investigations and filed 6 lawsuits under the land use provisions of RLUIPA, in cases involving churches, synagogues, mosques, Buddhist Temples, a Hindu Temple, religious schools, and faith-based social service providers.
- Won a TRO in federal court under RLUIPA in July 2012 requiring Rutherford County, Tennessee to permit a Muslim congregation to occupy its newly completed mosque, after a state judge had barred the county from issuing a certificate of occupancy. The congregation’s efforts to build the mosque had been met with vociferous opposition from some members of the community, including protests, boycotts of contractors working on the project, acts of vandalism, and a bomb threat.
- Submitted 5 appellate amicus briefs supporting plaintiffs under RLUIPA’s land use provisions, including a Southern Baptist Church in Texas, a mosque in Georgia, a large independent Christian church in Maryland, a synagogue in Connecticut, and a small storefront Christian church in Alabama.
- Filed amicus briefs in four Supreme Court cases and in five courts of appeals regarding the proper interpretation and application of RLUIPA to institutionalized persons.Filed six statements of interest regarding the interpretation of the institutionalized persons provisions of RLUIPA. The Civil Rights Division had never before filed a statement of interest or amicus brief involving these provisions at the trial court level.
- Reached four agreements to resolve litigation or investigations involving the institutionalized persons provisions of RLUIPA. The Civil Rights Division had previously never reached any agreements to enforce the institutionalized persons provisions.
The Department has effectively used the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act to enhance hate crime prosecutions. In Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012, the Department convicted the most defendants on hate crimes charges in more than a decade. Since its passage in 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has provided the Department with important tools to investigate and prosecute hate crimes. To date, the Department has trained thousands of federal and local law enforcement officials around the country to use the statute. So far:
- In the past six fiscal years (2009-2014), the Department has prosecuted 14 percent more hate crime cases than were prosecuted in the previous six fiscal years (2003-2008), and charged 31 percent more hate crime defendants.
- The Department has brought 28 cases, charging 65 defendants using the Shepard Byrd Act. Of those 65 defendants, 49 have been convicted. The Department has prosecuted cases under the Shepard-Byrd Act in Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Washington.
- In addition to using the Shepard-Byrd Act, the Department also continues to employ 18 U.S.C. §§ 245 (federally protected activities), 247 (obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs/ damage to religious real property), and 42 U.S.C. § 3631 (criminal interference with right to fair housing) to prosecute hate crimes.
The Department launched the Defending Childhood Initiative. In 2010, Attorney General Holder established the Defending Childhood Initiative to address and remedy the exposure of America’s children to violence. As part of that initiative:
- Attorney General Holder launched the national Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence to raise awareness and to develop policies and practices to address the problem. Based on the testimony at four public hearings and three listening sessions, on comprehensive research, and on extensive input from experts, advocates, and impacted families and communities nationwide, the Defending Childhood Task Force issued a final report to the Attorney General presenting its findings and 56 comprehensive policy recommendations in December 2012. The report serves as a blueprint for preventing and reducing the negative effects of violence across the United States.
- In April 2013, Attorney General Holder announced the creation of an American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence. The task force is also a component of the Justice Department’s ongoing collaboration with leaders in American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety. The task force is comprised of a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the Departments of the Interior and Justice and an advisory committee of experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma and child welfare.
- On November 18, 2014, the task force Advisory Committee released a report outlining significant policy recommendations to the Justice Department. The report recommends a rebuilding of the current services provided to Indian Country, through increased partnering and coordination with tribes, and increased funding for programs to support American Indian and Alaska Native children. The report provides the Advisory Committee’s vision for the development of effective, trauma informed, and culturally appropriate programs and services to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence.
- The report was the outcome of a year of public hearings of the advisory committee held in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and North Dakota. The advisory committee hearings included tribal researchers, child advocates, domestic violence and sexual assault advocates, and local community members, tribal leaders, juvenile court judges, and juvenile justice system experts.
The Department has made significant investments to keep young people and communities safe. The Department supports a wide variety of initiatives aimed at protecting our country’s youngest citizens and their communities. For example:
- The Department has led the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a White House initiative sponsoring federal-local partnerships in 10 U.S. cities to develop comprehensive strategies to reduce youth and gang violence.
- The Forum models a new kind of federal-local collaboration, encouraging its members to change the way they do business by sharing common challenges, promising strategies and using data to drive decision-making.
- Through the development of comprehensive networks and strategies that blend prevention, intervention, enforcement and reentry, localities will work across agencies toward a common goal: preventing youth and gang violence.
- In September 2012, Attorney General Holder and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary announced Camden, N.J., Minneapolis, New Orleans and Philadelphia would join the forum, bringing the total of participating cities from six to 10. The original Forum cities included Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Tenn., Salinas, Calif. and San Jose, Calif.
- In August 2011, Attorney General Holder and the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a new initiative called the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI) to address the problem of "zero tolerance" policies that impose harsh punishments like expulsion for relatively minor infractions. Recent studies show children punished in this manner are more likely to repeat a grade, not graduate, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. The initiative is a collaboration between the two Departments, in coordination with the philanthropic, non-profit and advocacy community, to replace punitive school disciplinary policies and practices with positive ones so as to:
- Keep students in school and engaged in learning.
- Ensure that school discipline practices are implemented in compliance with civil rights laws.
- Ensure access to high quality instruction for students who are disciplined.
The Department has modernized the definition of rape in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In December 2011, the Department approved an updated definition of rape that will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. The revised definition is more inclusive of rape acts against men and women, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on many forms of sexual penetration understood to be "rape." This change will give law enforcement the ability to report more complete rape offense data, as the new definition reflects the vast majority of state rape statutes.
The Department has made an unprecedented commitment to reducing violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. In June 2009, Attorney General Holder launched a Department-wide initiative to enhance public safety in Indian County. Significant progress has been made since then, including:
- On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into the law the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or “VAWA 2013.” This law contains provisions that significantly improve the safety of Native women and which importantly, allow federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to hold more perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crimes. Many of these critical provisions were drawn from the Department of Justice’s July 2011 proposal for new Federal legislation to combat violence against native women. VAWA 2013 recognizes tribes’ inherent power to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country.
- As of November 2014, federal prosecutors had charged more than 200 defendants under VAWA 2013’s enhanced federal assault statutes, and obtained more than 140 convictions. These numbers include more than 40 cases involving charges of strangulation or suffocation, often precursor offenses to domestic homicide.
- VAWA 2013 recognizes tribes' inherent power to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over certain defendants, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country. This new law generally takes effect on March 7, 2015, but also authorizes a voluntary "Pilot Project" to allow certain tribes to begin exercising special jurisdiction sooner. On February 6, 2014 the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon were selected for this Pilot Project.
- Since the pilots began, more than 20 criminal cases have been charged by tribal prosecutors against non-Indian domestic violence offenders, and several have been convicted of domestic violence crimes.
- In its Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions report to Congress, a requirement of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, the Justice Department's prioritization of Indian country crime has resulted in a notable increase in commitment to overall law enforcement efforts in Indian country. Federal prosecutors continue to bring a substantial number of cases to federal court. Cases filed against defendants in Indian Country have increased by 34 percent from FY 2009 to FY 2013, from 1,091 cases filed in fiscal year (FY) 2009 to 1,138 in FY 2010 to 1,547 in FY 2011 to 1,677 in FY 2012, and to 1,462 in FY 2013.
- The Department launched the National Indian Country Training Initiative (NICTI) to ensure that Department prosecutors, as well as state and tribal criminal justice personnel, receive the training and support needed to address the particular challenges relevant to Indian Country prosecutions, including a 2012 training initiative on investigating and prosecuting sexual assault. In 2012, the NICTI delivered training in 16 states and at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C. to approximately 2,500 federal, state and tribal stakeholders on a host of criminal justice issues.
- The report shows a new era of partnership between the federal government and American Indian tribes, including an unprecedented level of collaboration with tribal law enforcement. The increase in collaboration and communication strengthens the bond of trust between federal and tribal investigators, prosecutors, and other personnel in both federal and tribal criminal justice systems, and it is our hope that communities will be safer as a result.
The Department continues to vigorously enforce the right of equal access to the ballot box. Since 2009, the Department of Justice has closely monitored state laws that would significantly change how elections are conducted and has continued to ensure that state practices and procedures comply with federal law. For example:
- In 2014, the Department conducted major section 2 trials and preliminary injunction hearings in cases to enforce the non-discrimination requirements of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, including: a multiweek trial of a challenge to Texas’s 2011 redistricting plans for the Texas congressional delegation and the Texas House of Representatives; a multiweek trial of a challenge to Texas SB 14 (2011), which adopts a strict photo identification requirement for voting; and a week-long preliminary injunction hearing challenging several provisions in North Carolina HB 589 (2013), which eliminated the first week of early voting, eliminated same-day voter registration during the early voting period, and prohibited counting certain provisional ballots. The district court in the Texas photo identification case ruled for the United States on both its claim that Texas’s law violates Section 2 because it results in discrimination against minority voters and its claim that the law violates Section 2 because it is intentionally discriminates against minority voters. The Department continues to prepare for trial on the North Carolina case, which also involves a challenge to a strict photo identification requirement.
- The Department sent monitors or observers to twenty-eight jurisdictions in eighteen states for the November 2014 general election to gather information on, among other things, whether voters are subject to different voting qualifications or procedures on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group; whether jurisdictions are complying with the minority language provisions of the Voting Rights Act; whether jurisdictions permit voters to receive assistance by a person of his or her choice if the voter is blind, has a disability, or is unable to read or write; whether jurisdictions allow voters with disabilities to cast a private and independent ballot; whether jurisdictions comply with the voter registration list requirements of the National Voter Registration Act; and whether jurisdictions comply with the provisional ballot requirements of the Help America Vote Act.
- The Department held consultations with tribal leaders to discuss whether the Department should recommend to Congress new legislation that would require any state or local election administrator whose territory includes part of all of an Indian reservation, an Alaska Native village, or other tribal lands to locate at least one polling place in a venue selected by each tribal government.
- The Department has filed statements of interest or amicus briefs in a wide range of significant Voting Rights Act lawsuits brought by private parties involving challenges to restrictive voting laws or the use of election systems that dilute minority voting strength
- The Department has successfully defended the Election Assistance Commission in a suit brought by two states seeking to impose additional, burdensome requirements on citizens who use the Federal Form provided pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act to register to vote.
Expanding Equal Employment Opportunity in the Workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Division can sue state and local government employers that discriminate on a basis of race, sex, religion, national origin or color. A great deal of the Division’s employment work involves enforcement activities against public safety employers in order to remove artificial barriers to employment against protected classes. During fiscal year 2014, the Division consummated settlement in three (3) Title VII complaints resulting in injunctive relief and monetary compensation in excess of $ 1.4 million dollars. The Division’s lawsuits and settlements consummated in 2014 fell into several general categories, ranging from a challenge to a written employment test to allegations of sexual harassment and religious discrimination. Our longstanding pattern or practice of discrimination lawsuit against the New York Fire Department resulted in a $99 million dollar recovery in damages for the United States in fiscal year 2014.
- United States v. FDNY: Following several years of protracted remedial-phase litigation, the parties agreed to settle the United States’ and Plaintiffs’-Intervenors’ claims for monetary relief against the Fire Department of New York City. In 2009, the Court found that FDNY’s entry-level firefighter selection practices violated Title VII in that the test screened out significantly more African Americans and Hispanics than whites and was not job-related or consistent with business necessity: in other words that the test created an unnecessary hurdle that limited the opportunities of African Americans and Hispanics. The parties’ proposed to settle those claims for approximately $99.25 million, including $87.2 million in damages and approximately $12 million in interest. This money will be distributed to eligible African American and Hispanic firefighter applicants to compensate for lost back pay and fringe benefits resulting from the City’s discrimination. In June 2014, the parties submitted to the Court their proposed monetary relief consent decree. On October 1, 2014, the Court held the fairness hearing regarding the parties’ settlement, and the parties are awaiting a ruling on their request for final approval of the monetary relief consent decree.
- Kristy Murphy-Taylor and United States v. Queen Anne’s County, et al.: Kristy Murphy-Taylor, a former female deputy sheriff, faced sexual harassment from multiple supervisors, including the Sheriff’s brother, and was subjected to intolerable working conditions and then terminated in retaliation for complaining about the sexual harassment. The United States intervened in this case because of the egregious sexual harassment and brazen retaliation. Specifically, the Sheriff fired Ms. Murphy-Taylor and kept his brother on the force even after his brother pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting Ms. Murphy-Taylor in a Sheriff’s Office vehicle. Under the terms of the settlement between the United States and the County, the County will revise its leave and termination policies as well as its nepotism policies to prevent this type of harassment and retaliation. The County has also agreed to effectuate any sexual harassment policy of the Sheriff’s Office which makes the County the point person for receiving complaints of sex discrimination. The Consent Decree also provides $620,000 in back and front pay for Ms. Murphy-Taylor.
- United States v. School District of Philadelphi:: Siddiq Abu-Bakr was a long time school police officer who wore a beard as part of his religious faith. In 2010 the School District implemented a new grooming policy, which prohibited school police officers from having a beard longer than one-quarter inch and did not provide any form of religious exception. The United States alleged that the School District failed to accommodate Mr. Abu-Baker and other Muslim school police officers by refusing to accommodate the men’s religious beliefs. Under the terms of the United States’ settlement agreement and the private settlement reached with Mr. Abu-Baker, the School District agreed to: (1) revise its grooming policy to include a mechanism for school police officers to request a religious accommodation, (2) notify school police officers that their requests will be considered on an individualized basis and that the School District will engage in an interactive process with them before denying any accommodation requests, (3) provide mandatory training on religious accommodation, and (4) pay compensatory damages to Mr. Abu-Baker and two similarly-situated employees and expunge all discipline related to the policy from their personnel files.
- United States v. Austin, Texas: In this case, the United States challenged the written examination used by the City to select entry-level firefighters. The United States’ analysis showed that the examination screened out significantly more African Americans and Hispanics than whites and that the City’s use of the examination was not lawful in that it the examination was not job-related or consistent with business necessity. In other words, the examination was preventing African Americans and Hispanics from joining the force but did not test for the skills necessary to be a firefighter: it was an unnecessary hurdle. Under the terms of the Consent Decree in this matter, Austin agreed to stop the challenged practices, adopt a lawful selection process, provide monetary relief to eligible victims ($780,000), and to provide 30 eligible victims with priority appointments (with retroactive seniority).
The Department has consistently defended the right for military personnel and their families as overseas civilians to vote. The Department protects the rights of our military, their families and overseas civilians to vote no matter where they are stationed in the world, through aggressive enforcement of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act. For example:
- In 2014, the Department continued to litigate several earlier filed suits, and successfully sued West Virginia for failure to comply with UOCAVA’s requirements. It successfully defended its victory in a UOCAVA case involving the date for runoff primaries in Alabama.
- In 2012, the Department filed lawsuits against seven states and territories to enforce UOCAVA for the 2012 federal primary, special and general election cycle.
- For the November 2010, federal general election, the Department obtained court orders, court-approved consent decrees, or out-of-court agreements, in 14 jurisdictions (11 states, two territories and the District of Columbia).
- The Department has proposed new federal legislation to protect the voting rights of uniformed services voters and overseas voters.
The Department continues to protect the voting rights of Alaska Natives and American Indians.
- Over the last five years, the Department has filed statements of interest and amicus briefs in cases involving the voting rights of American Indians and Alaska Natives.
- In 2014, the Department proposed a consultation with Alaska Natives and American Indian tribal governments about the possibility of legislation providing for the designation of polling places in Native villages and on tribal lands. The Department has completed consultations and remains firmly committed to seeking a legislative solution to this problem.
- In 2013 and 2014, the Civil Rights Division has filed amicus briefs/statement of interest briefs in Toyukak, et al. v. Treadwell, et al., No. 3:13-cv-00137 (D. Alaska) and Wandering Medicine, et al. v. McCulloch, et al., No. 1:12-CV-135 (D. Mont.) and No. 12-35926 (9th Cir.), two cases brought by Alaska Native and American Indian private plaintiffs under the Voting Rights Act. Toyukak involves a challenge under the language minority provisions of Section 203 of the Act regarding the translation of election information into the Alaska Native languages in the Dillingham, Wade Hampton and Yukon-Koyokuk Census Areas in Alaska. The Wandering Medicine plaintiffs allege that the lack of early voting and late registration opportunities for Native American voters in Big Horn, Blaine, and Rosebud Counties in Montana is a violation of Section 2 of the Act.
- For election monitoring for the November 2014 general election, the Division monitored three counties under the Voting Rights Act where there are significant populations of Native American voters: in Cibola County, New Mexico, Charles Mix County, South Dakota, and Shannon County, South Dakota.
The Department launched the first-ever Access to Justice Initiative. Fifty years after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which held that every criminal defendant, regardless of income, is entitled to be represented by counsel, millions of Americans still struggle to access the legal services that they need and deserve. Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, the Department and the Obama Administration have taken unprecedented steps to ensure that our legal system is accessible, effective and a model of integrity. The Access to Justice Initiative, launched in March 2010, has been engaging with a wide variety of new partners including state, local, tribal and federal officials, nonprofit organizations, researchers and experts from across the private sector. Access to Justice has worked to:
- Expand research and funding support to improve the delivery of indigent defense services. In fiscal year 2013, the Office of Justice Programs awarded $6.7 million in grants to state and local criminal and legal services organizations across the country that provide legal defense services for the poor.
- Provide support to tribal courts in their provision of criminal defense services as they work to implement the enhanced sentencing authority under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction recognized under the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 through specialized trainings and expertise.
- Protect the Sixth Amendment guarantee to effective assistance of counsel by jointly filing with the Civil Rights Division a Statement of Interest in Wilbur v. City of Mount Vernon, requesting consideration of workload controls for public defense providers as part of any court ordered remedy and the subsequent appointment of an “independent monitor” to ensure compliance. On December 4, 2013, the United States District Court found a systematic deprivation of the right to assistance of counsel and issued an injunction.
- Conceive of and staff the Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable, co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Tony West and Special Assistant to the President for Justice & Regulatory Policy Tonya Robinson, with representation from 17 federal agencies. The Roundtable raises awareness about integrating legal aid programs into federal efforts to promote access to health and housing, education and employment, family stability and community well-being, when doing so can improve federal grant and initiative outcomes.
- Advance Federal Interagency Reentry Council efforts to remove barriers to employment, housing and family reunification for people with criminal records by integrating civil legal aid interventions into reentry grant and training programs. ATJ collaborated with the Departments of Labor, Justice, and Veteran Affairs to raise awareness about how legal services can improve outcomes, e.g., by expunging or correcting inaccurate criminal records, reinstating a driver’s license, and obtaining certificates of rehabilitation.
The Department has spearheaded unprecedented efforts to reform police departments throughout the country to ensure constitutional police practices. Since 2009, the Department has opened more than 20 investigations state and local law enforcement agencies regarding civil patterns or practices in violation of the Constitution or federal law; is enforcing 15 agreements and is involved in five pieces of litigation to ensure police accountability. This is the largest number of law enforcement agencies being reviewed at any one time in the history of the Department. Also, since 2011 the COPS Office has engaged in Collaborative Reform for Technical Assistance Initiatives (CRI-TA) in six cities to improve trust between agencies and the communities they serve by providing a proactive, voluntary means to organizational transformation through an analysis of policies, practices, training, tactics, and accountability methods around a specific issue of concern. These efforts include:
- The COPS Office has completed the CRI-TA process in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department (LVMPD), and produced an assessment report that outlines 80 recommendations for significant organizational reforms. The COPS Office also evaluated the LVMPD’s level of implementation of those reforms at six and 18 month intervals after the assessment, and found that over 97% of the recommendations have been addressed.
- The COPS Office has completed its initial findings and recommendations for the Spokane (WA) and Philadelphia (PA) Police Department’s. The findings and recommendations will serve as the basis for reforms to be implemented in those agencies.
- In September, 2014, the COPS Office CRI-TA process was launched in St. Louis County Police Department (SLCPD) providing an objective and independent assessment of their training, use of force, handling mass demonstrations, stops, searches, arrests, and fair and impartial policing. Because of the SLCPD size and stature within the region and role as the primary training provider for many local agencies, Collaborative Reform offers an opportunity to significantly impact policing across the region.
- In July 2012, recognizing systemic problems and allegations of unlawful police misconduct in the New Orleans Police Department, the Justice Department and the City of New Orleans signed a consent decree formalizing a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform of the police department. This happened after the conclusion of one of the most extensive reviews ever of a law enforcement agency by the Justice Department.
- In July 2012, the Justice Department and the Seattle Police Department entered into agreements to address policies, supervision, training, accountability and community oversight after the Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that police department engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
- In October 2012, the Justice Department and Portland Police Bureau negotiated a settlement to make changes to the Portland Police Bureau policies, practices, training and supervision after the Justice Department found the police bureau had engaged in an unconstitutional pattern or practice of excessive force against people with mental illness.
- In October 2014, the Justice Department entered into a court enforceable settlement with the City of Albuquerque to address findings of unnecessary and excessive lethal and less lethal force and force against persons with mental illness. The settlement will be entered as an order of the court and supervised by a monitor.
- The Civil Rights Division concluded its investigation of gender bias in the criminal justice system with regard to handling of sexual assault cases in Missoula, Montana in 2013.This investigation included separate investigations of the University of Montana Police, the city police department and the County Attorney.Each investigation found serious indicators of gender bias and was resolved with ground breaking agreements for reform.The implementation of the agreements, while not yet complete, it yielding important results.
- In the 20 years since the passage of Section 14141 in 1994, the Special Litigation Section has reached 30 agreements to change police practices and ensure constitutional policing: 14 of these 30 agreements have been reached in the past five years. This is more than during any other five year period in the Section’s history, and compares to zero such agreements during the previous five years.
- During this same 20 year period, the Special Litigation Section has opened 66 14141 investigations of law enforcement agencies: 20 of these investigations have been opened in the past five years.
- In the past five years, we have renewed our commitment to enforcing 14141 through litigation when necessary. We currently have four 14141 cases in contested litigation, compared with one previously during the entire history of the statute. Litigation is necessary to fulfill the promise of 14141 when we have found patterns of constitutional violations by law enforcement agencies, and the agency refuses to work cooperatively to protect peoples’ rights.
- In addition to our civil pattern and practice work, the Department continues to criminally prosecute those law enforcement officers who act under color of law to willfully engage in civil rights violations. From FY2009 to FY2014, the Department has criminally prosecuted 407 law enforcement officers in 271 cases for civil rights violations and related conduct.
- For the first time since the passage of Section 14141 in 1994, the Special Litigation Section is investigating juvenile courts. In the past five years, the Special Litigation Section has opened three investigations of juvenile courts. In the past five years, the Civil Rights Division entered the first settlement agreement with a juvenile court to protect the due process and equal protection rights of the juveniles appearing before the court. The settlement led to the creation of a juvenile justice unit within the Public Defender's Office, consisting of six full-time attorneys, two full-time investigators, and two administrative staff members. The unit provides continuous representation of children in delinquency proceedings.
- In May 2014, the United States entered a groundbreaking consent order, which resolved the United States’ claims that Ohio subjected children to excessive disciplinary solitary confinement.After intense litigation, Ohio agreed to reduce and eventually eliminate disciplinary solitary confinement of children in its custody.Ohio also agreed that children in custody will receive mental health treatment to address the behaviors that were leading to solitary confinement.
- In October 2012 the Civil Rights Division filed a lawsuit alleging due process violations in the administration of juvenile justice in the City of Meridian and Lauderdale County, Mississippi.The lawsuit focuses on children referred to the juvenile justice system for school-related misconduct.The complaint alleged that children are arrested without probable cause, denied due process in court proceedings, denied adequate assistance of counsel, and that children on probation are subjected to incarceration for suspension or expulsion from school.
Prison and Jail Conditions
- Following an investigation of the solitary confinement practices in Pennsylvania’s 26 prisons, the Civil Rights Division issued findings that Pennsylvania violated the rights of prisoners with mental illness under the ADA and the constitution by placing them in prolonged solitary confinement.
- The Civil Rights Division completed two investigations of women’s prisons (Kansas and Alabama) and found that women were not protected from sexual assault by other prisoners and by guards in violation of the United States Constitution.
- The United States is enforcing consent decrees in Cook County, Illinois, New Orleans, Louisiana, the Virgin Islands, Muscogee, Oklahoma, and elsewhere to ensure the rights of prisoners to be free from an unreasonable risk of harm, and to have access to medical and mental health care.
- The United States issued Standards to implement the Prison Rape Elimination Act, established the PREA Resource Center, trained hundreds of PREA auditors and provided technical assistance to dozens of correctional systems on reforms necessary to reduce sexual assault in prisons.
The Department has protected tribal sovereignty, tribal lands and resources and tribal treaty rights. Over the past four years, the Department has continued to vigorously protect the rights and natural resources of federally recognized Indian tribes and their members and has defended against challenges to statutes and federal agency actions designed to protect tribal interests. For example:
- In 2010, the Departments of Justice and the Interior reached a historic $3.4 billion settlement resolving the litigation in Cobell v. Salazar, an Indian trust class-action lawsuit that had been pending for 15 years. The settlement, approved by the court and Congress, provides for payments to over 400,000 individual Indians who had Individual Indian Money accounts or an interest in trust or restricted land managed by the Department of the Interior.
- Since October 1, 2010, the United States has settled the trust accounting and trust mismanagement claims of more than 81 federally recognized tribes and paid more than $2.6 billion in compensation to those tribes, resolving decades-long and costly litigation. For instance, in September 2014, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the Navajo Nation regarding the U.S. government’s management of funds and natural resources that it holds in trust for the Navajo Nation. All of the settlements resolved a long-standing dispute, with some of the claims dating back more than 50 years, and brought to an end protracted litigation that had burdened both the tribes and the United States.
- The Department, along with the Interior and Treasury Departments, is continuing settlement negotiations with other tribes that still have pending trust accounting and trust mismanagement claims against the United States.
- In October 2012, the Department issued a policy addressing the ability of members of federally recognized Indian tribes to use the feathers and other parts of eagles and other federally protected birds, an issue of great cultural and religious significance to many tribes and their members. The policy clarifies and expands on longstanding Department practice, consistent with the Department of the Interior's 35-year old Morton Policy of not prosecuting tribal members for possessing or using eagle feathers and other protected bird parts while continuing to prosecute tribal members and nonmembers alike for killing protected birds without a permit or for commercializing federally protected birds or bird parts.
- The Department also held a first-ever joint federal-tribal training on wildlife and pollution enforcement issues. The course brought together more than 100 tribal and federal enforcement personnel and prosecutors who work to protect tribal lands and resources.
- The Department litigates cases supporting tribal authority over tribal lands and resources. The Department litigated alongside the Omaha Tribe and assisted them in securing the existence and boundaries of its Nebraska reservation in a lawsuit brought by liquor distributors challenging the Tribe’s imposition of liquor taxes. The court of appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court’s holding that an 1882 federal statute did not diminish the Tribe’s reservation. The Department also successfully defended against the assertion of state and local authority to regulate stormwater or other pollution on tribal trust lands.
- The Department litigates to preserve treaty-protected tribal hunting, fishing, and gathering rights. For example, in 2013, the United States and many Pacific Northwest tribes obtained an injunction against the State of Washington requiring the State to inventory road culverts on State lands that block the passage of fish to spawning grounds, and the access of juvenile fish to the ocean, and correct them within 17 years.
- The Department continues to actively defend the Department of the Interior's authority to take land into trust for tribes. Recently, the Department successfully defended the Secretary’s decision to acquire land into trust for the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the National Indian Gaming Commission’s approval of gaming on that land. In a significant win for the United States, the district court deferred to Interior’s interpretation of the term “under federal jurisdiction” in the Indian Reorganization Act. This case was the first major district court decision regarding tribal land acquisition post-Carcieri v. Salazar, in which the Supreme Court held that the applicable definition of “Indian” in the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) authorized Interior to acquire land into trust for a tribe only if that tribe was “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934. However, the Supreme Court in Carcieri did not address what it meant to be “under federal jurisdiction,” and in taking land into trust for the Cowlitz Tribe, the Department of the Interior undertook an in-depth analysis of Carcieri and the IRA. The Department also successfully opposed emergency motions to enjoin the Secretary from acquiring land into trust for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California. With respect to the former, the district court rejected the argument that the North Folk Rancheria was not “under federal jurisdiction” in 1934.
- The Department also participates in cases involving important principles of tribal sovereignty. The Department supported the Bay Mills Indian Community in a lawsuit brought by the state of Michigan to close an off-reservation gaming facility. Michigan argued, among other things, that the gaming activities were prohibited under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act because they did not take place on “Indian lands” as defined by the statute. The Supreme Court held that Michigan’s lawsuit was barred by tribal sovereign immunity, identifying a long line of cases that supports the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity. Importantly, the Supreme Court re-affirmed its prior decision in Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma v. Manufacturing Technologies, and declined to draw distinctions in tribal sovereign immunity depending on whether the activity in question is commercial or occurs on Indian lands. The Court explained that Congress could have waived tribal sovereign immunity after Kiowa, but it instead elected to let the Kiowa decision stand.
- The Department also plays a key role in defending tribal and federal interests in water adjudications. In 2013, the adjudication court entered a degree adopting the settlement resolving the water rights of the Navajo Nation in the San Juan River Basin which will help ensure that potable water will be available to the tribe and its members in northwestern New Mexico. The Department also prevailed on claims for the benefit of the Klamath Tribes, asserting a right to instream flow claims to support fish populations, and successfully appealed a lower court decision that had unduly limited the amount of federally reserved water rights for the Confederated Tribes of the Yakama Nation in the Yakima River Basin.
Requiring Transparency and Accessibility
The Department has demonstrated its historic commitment to transparency. Upon taking office, President Obama issued a memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which directed agencies to administer the Act "with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails." On March 19, 2009, Attorney General Holder issued new FOIA guidelines that embrace the call for greater transparency and "a new era of open Government." Under these guidelines, the Department has made significant strides in improving access and transparency.
- For the past four fiscal years, from Fiscal Year 2009 to Fiscal Year 2012, the Department has released records in full or in part in more than 94 percent of the cases where records were processed for disclosure, and when records were released, they were released in full, with no information withheld, for more than 70 percent of such requests.
- The Department also made more discretionary releases of information than the previous administration and has exponentially increased the amount of information made available to the public through proactive disclosures on its websites.
- In response to receiving more than 61,000 requests for the fourth straight year, which is among the highest number of requests received by any agency, the Department has increased the number of requests it processes every year. During Fiscal Year 2012 alone the Department processed over 68,000 requests which was over 4,500 more than the year before.
- Under Attorney General Holder's leadership, the Department has also significantly improved its average processing time for simple FOIA requests, processing all of these requests under an average of nearly 19 days.
- The Department has launched an online portal so that the public, through a personal online account, can make requests to the Department's senior leadership offices, file administrative appeals online and receive any responsive documents online.
- The Department also launched FOIA.gov which, among other things, allows the public to compare, sort through and view graphically the detailed statistics provided in agencies' Annual FOIA Reports. Over the past four years, the Department has enhanced FOIA.gov by adding a search tool that allows the public to easily search across all agency websites to locate any information of interest. The Department also added the capability to make online requests directly from FOIA.gov and provides information about the FOIA in Spanish.
- Starting in Fiscal Year 2013, the Department instituted a new quarterly reporting requirement for all agencies, allowing for more real-time assessment of the flow of FOIA requests throughout the year. As a result of this requirement, agencies will post, and FOIA.gov will display, four key FOIA statistics for each agency on a quarterly basis, thereby allowing the public to view current snapshots of agencies' progress in administrating the FOIA throughout the year.
- Since the issuance of Attorney General Holder's new FOIA guidelines, the Department's Office of Information Policy, which is responsible for encouraging agency compliance with the FOIA, has issued government-wide guidance on a range of issues implementing practices that provide for greater transparency and a more effective FOIA administration across the government.
Protecting the Environment
The Department has renewed its commitment to Environmental Justice. Over the past six years, the Department renewed its commitment to environmental justice, which is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. This was done in many ways, including: by updating the Department’s Environmental Justice Strategy and Guidance which outline how the Department works to ensure all communities, regardless of their demographics or income, are protected from environmental harm; by working closely with other federal agencies to coordinate environmental justice efforts, by engaging communities to an unprecedented degree, and by achieving meaningful results for vulnerable communities in its cases. For example:
- In the largest environmental enforcement recovery ever by the Department of Justice, on April 3, 2014, Deputy Attorney General James Cole announced a $5.15 billion settlement with the Kerr-McGee Corporation, certain affiliates, and parent company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. to remedy a fraudulent conveyance designed to evade environmental liabilities left by the Old Kerr-McGee Corp. Under the settlement, approximately $4.4 billion of the total will be paid to fund environmental clean-up and for environmental claims at contaminated sites around the country, including radioactive uranium waste across the Navajo Nation; radioactive thorium in Chicago and West Chicago, Illinois; creosote waste in the Northeast, the Midwest, and the South; and perchlorate waste in Nevada. The settlement was approved by the court on November 10, 2014, and went into effect on January 21, 2015. Anadarko paid $5.15 billion plus interest to the litigation trust on January 23, 2015.
- Under the Clean Water Act, the Department has reached agreements with more than 50 municipalities across the country to upgrade water and sanitary systems to reduce sewer overflows, which can present a significant threat to human health and the environment and have historically most affected low income and minority communities. These reductions are accomplished by obtaining commitments from municipalities to implement timely, affordable solutions to these problems, including the increased use of green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.
- For instance, a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Columbia, South Carolina, approved in 2014, contains more robust public participation provisions than sanitary sewer overflow consent decrees have traditionally contained. For example, as the city spends an estimated $750 million to assess and implement extensive improvements to its sanitary sewer system, it will, among other things, set up automatic e-mail notification to all interested parties prior to each deliverable being submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. For key deliverables, the city will have a formal 30-day comment period. The city will also spend $1 million on a supplemental environmental project to restore segments of three streams in areas with environmental justice concerns. The extensive community outreach in this case helped direct the parties’ attention to environmental justice considerations that might otherwise have been overlooked. Under a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Chattanooga, Tennessee, approved in 2013, the city agreed to pay a $476,400 civil penalty and make improvements to its sewer systems, estimated by the city to cost approximately $250 million, in order to eliminate unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage. The settlement followed a public outreach campaign including two well attended public meetings. Approximately 60 percent of Chattanooga’s storm sewer overflows have occurred in areas with environmental justice concerns. Under a similar settlement with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District in 2011, $4.7 billion will be spent over more than 23 years to make extensive improvements to sewer systems and treatment plants, to eliminate illegal overflows of untreated raw sewage, including basement backups and to reduce pollution As a result of a criminal enforcement action under the Clean Air Act, residents of a low-income community near a coke plant in Tonawanda, New York will breathe cleaner air. For years, people living in the low-income community near the plant were forced to breathe air Tonawanda Coke Corporation caused to be contaminated with benzene and particulates. In 2014, Tonawanda Coke was sentenced to pay a $12.5 million fine and make a $12.2 million community service payment. The company was placed on a five-year term of probation during which it is to make its community service payment. This money will be used to fund an epidemiological study and an air and soil study to help determine the extent of health and environmental impacts of the coke facility on the Tonawanda community. The company’s environmental manager Mark Kamholz was sentenced to serve one year incarceration, followed by one year of supervised release. He also will pay a $20,000 fine and perform 100 hours of community service levels in urban rivers and streams.
- Under a Clean Air Act settlement with the Suiza Dairy Corporation in 2012, thecorporation agreed to make significant upgrades (estimated at $3.75 million) to two dairy facilities in Puerto Rico, and conduct community emergency drills. The case stemmed from violations involving Suiza’s use of anhydrous ammonia, an extremely hazardous substance, at both facilities. The settlement was the product of extensive community outreach and will have significant health and safety benefits to the communities surrounding Suiza’s facilities.
As part of a settlement reached with Flint Hills Resourcesthe company agreed to cut harmful air pollution in an overburdened community in Port Arthur, Texas. Under the consent decree, lodged on March 20, 2014, Flint Hills Resources will implement innovative technologies to control harmful air pollution from industrial flares and leaking equipment at the company’s chemical plant. This settlement is part of EPA’s national effort to advance environmental justice by protecting communities such as Port Arthur that have been disproportionately impacted by
The United States also reached a settlement with three subsidiaries of the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS), the world’s largest fertilizer producer, to resolve claims that they violated the Clean Air Act by modifying facilities in ways that released excess sulfur dioxide into surrounding communities.The settlement requires the companies to install, upgrade, and operate state-of-the-art pollution reduction measures at an estimated cost of $50 million, and pay a $1.3 million civil penalty.The settlement also includes a supplemental environmental project, estimated to cost between $2.5 and $4 million, to protect the community around a nitric acid plant in Geismar, Louisiana, and provides for the installation and operation of equipment at the plant to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and ammonia.
For more information the Department’s environmental justice efforts, visit www.justice.gov/ej/resources.html to view the annual Environmental Justice Implementation Progress Reports.
The Department has successfully defended the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change and secured significant penalties, and the forfeiture of wrongfully claimed greenhouse gas emissions, through enforcement action. Over the past several years, EPA has developed a regulatory program under the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change. In 2012, the Department obtained a groundbreaking victory in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, a large, consolidated Clean Air Act case in which the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA’s principal regulations setting greenhouse gas emission standards for motor vehicles and phasing-in greenhouse gas permit requirements for stationary sources. In October 2013, the Supreme Court denied the lion’s share of nine separate petitions for certiorari seeking further review of the D.C. Circuit’s decision. And on June 23, 2014, the Supreme Court issued a decision upholding the EPA’s ability to regulate approximately 83 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources subject to the Act's permit program for new and modified sources. The Department has filed a pending motion with the court of appeals seeking a favorable resolution of this case. Additionally, in an enforcement action against Hyundai-Kia, the Department resolved claims that the companies sold close to 1.2 million vehicles in America that were uncertified, and that will emit approximately 4.75 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in excess of what the automakers certified to EPA. Under the resulting consent decree, the automakers paid a $100 million civil penalty, the largest in Clean Air Act history, and will forfeit 4.75 million greenhouse gas emission credits that the companies previously claimed by underestimating the vehicles’ greenhouse gas emissions. This will prevent the companies from using or selling these credits (estimated to be worth over $200 million), in the future. Additionally, the companies will spend approximately $50 million on measures to prevent future violations.
The Department has successfully defended two sets of important rules involving power plant emissions. In April 2014, the Department obtained a victory in the D.C. Circuit on EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics rule, which is the first-ever rule limiting emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants from the nation's coal and oil-fired electric power plants (the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear appeal on one discrete issue in the case, involving consideration of costs, on March 25, 2015, and the Solicitor General is expected to present argument on behalf of the EPA). Later that same month, the Supreme Court upheld EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which limits emissions of nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide that contribute to the formation of ozone and particulate matter pollution that drifts from state-to-state. The Supreme Court found that the rule reflected a “permissible, workable, and equitable” approach to this complex interstate pollution problem. On February 25, 2015, the Department will be representing EPA in a hearing before the D.C. Circuit to address the remaining challenges to this rule.
The Department is assisting in efforts to increase production of renewable energy on public lands. A key element of President Obama’s efforts to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil and the emission of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels is the expansion of cleaner domestic sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind power. In fiscal year 2014, the Department continued its defense of lawsuits challenging permits and rights-of-way issued by federal agencies to promote the responsible development of renewable energy projects on, or adjacent to, public lands. These projects have included wind, both on, and off-shore, and solar electric generation facilities and power transmission corridors to facilitate the distribution of renewable energy to the power grid. The vigorous defense of these lawsuits has allowed these projects to move forward enabling the delivery of cleaner energy to American homes and businesses while simultaneously spurring substantial economic activity.
The Department is committed to fighting the illegal trade in the world’s wildlife. The Department of Justice co-chairs the multi-agency Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking that President Obama created to lead the federal government’s response to the deepening global crisis presented by poaching and other illegal wildlife trafficking. Wildlife trafficking threatens security, hinders sustainable economic development, and threatens the rule of law. The illicit trade in wildlife is decimating many species worldwide and threatens iconic species such as rhinoceroses, elephants, and tigers with extinction. To counter this threat, the Task Force developed the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking, which President Obama released on February 11, 2014. The Task Force issued an Implementation Plan on February 11, 2105 that builds upon the Strategy and provides a robust, focused roadmap of steps to achieve three objectives that are key to stopping this pernicious trade: strengthening domestic and global enforcement, reducing demand for illegally traded wildlife, and expanding international cooperation. The Justice Department plays a vital role in these efforts, both by enforcing our nation’s wildlife laws, like the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act, and by working closely with other federal agencies to build our foreign partners’ enforcement capacity and to support international enforcement efforts. The Department has successfully prosecuted numerous cases of illicit wildlife smuggling involving trafficking of rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory, South African leopard, Asian and African tortoises and reptiles, and many other forms of protected wildlife and protected plant species. Through enforcement efforts like “Operation Crash” – which is focused on the lucrative and often brutal trade in rhinoceros horn – we work to bring traffickers to justice. This operation has resulted in more than two dozen arrests thus far, with those convicted sentenced to significant terms of imprisonment and the forfeiture of millions in cash, gold bars, rhino horn and luxury items, and we are continuing to unravel the international, sophisticated criminal networks that are involved in these crimes.
Last Updated: March 2015