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Department of Justice Accomplishments

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. More than four 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.

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Terrorism and National Security | Violent Crime | Financial Fraud
Protecting Vulnerable Populations | Transparency | Environmental Justice

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 2013, the Justice Department announced that Ahmed Warsame, a former senior al-Shabaab commander and emissary to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, had pleaded guilty in 2011 to all counts of a terrorism indictment against him.
  • In 2013, Sulaiman Abu Ghayth, an alleged associate of Usama bin Laden, was arrested for conspiring to kill Americans and arraigned in federal court in Manhattan.
  • 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 in prison after cooperating extensively with the government.
  • In 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 2012, Adis Medunjanin was sentenced to life in prison 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 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, 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 2012, Khalid Aldawsari was sentenced to life in prison 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 2010, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison 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 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 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 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 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 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 2011, Glenn Shriver, a one-time CIA applicant, was sentenced to serve 48 months in prison for conspiring to provide classified information to Chinese intelligence officers.
  • 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 in prison.

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.

Efforts to date include:

  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.

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.

Examples include:

  • 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.

Last updated: July 2013

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Protecting the American People From Violent and Other Crimes

Violent crime rates have steadily declined in the last four 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.

Significant accomplishments include:

  • 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.
  • In January 2010, the Department announced the largest mafia takedown in its history, involving charges against more than 125 members of LCN. Since that time, numerous LCN members and associates in Philadelphia, Providence, R.I. and New York have been convicted of racketeering and other offenses, and other defendants are pending trial.
  • 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, Washington, D.C. and California;
    • Bloods and Vice Lords in Tennessee;
    • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and Barrio Azteca in Texas; and
    • Latin Kings in Illinois, Texas, Maryland and Indiana.

The Department has successfully prosecuted thousands of violent criminals for illegal gun possession. For the past four years, the Department’s investigations resulted in the prosecution of more than 70,528 defendants – many of whom were involved with criminal groups or gangs - for violations of firearms laws.

Of those defendants:

  • 61 percent were previously convicted felons and 83 percent had been previously arrested.
  • 42,789 were convicted for firearms-related offenses, 14,442 were referred for prosecution for violations related to the trafficking of firearms and 7,696 of those defendants have been convicted to date.
  • 19,656 were involved with criminal groups or gangs and 10,097 have been convicted to date.

The Department has successfully arrested and prosecuted large numbers of dangerous fugitives.

Since 2009, the Department has:

  • Arrested 22 fugitives that have been featured on the USMS 15 Most Wanted list.
  • Participated in efforts to combat violent crime in New Orleans, Chicago, and Philadelphia, leading to the arrest of 782 fugitive felons.
  • Directed 15 anti-gang initiatives that led to the arrest of 3,552 gang members.
  • Arrested more than 2,100 international and foreign fugitives.
  • Recovered 354 missing children in coordination with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • Conducted Operation Guardian nationwide, leading to the arrest of 427 of the nation’s most dangerous sex offenders.

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.

Actions announced to date include: 

  • 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 to pay 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.
  • In February 2012, the department announced an agreement with MOEX, which will pay $70 million in civil penalties to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and will spend at least $20 million to facilitate land acquisition projects in several Gulf States that will preserve and protect in perpetuity habitat and resources important to water quality.
  • Testimony is complete in the first phase of the civil trial against BP and other defendants to determine liability for the spill. The department is preparing for the second phase of the trial expected to commence in September in federal court in New Orleans.

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 or personal identification information or valuable intellectual property and can also aid in the recruitment, inspiration and incitement of terrorists.

The Department’s notable efforts include:

  • In January 2012, the Department indicted seven individuals and two corporations for running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through Megaupload.com. This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property.
  • In April 2011, the Department helped to dismantle a dangerous “botnet,” which is a network of computers that have been infected by malicious software designed to take control of countless PCs without the user’s knowledge or consent, known as Coreflood. Coreflood was believed to have infected more than two million computers worldwide with malicious software that caused the computers to be controlled remotely for the purpose of stealing the users' key strokes to reveal personal and financial information. The stolen data was then used to gain access to financial accounts and steal funds. The disbandment of Coreflood was done through strategic use of civil and criminal authorities as part of the most complete and comprehensive enforcement action ever taken by U.S authorities to disable an international botnet.
  • In March 2012, federal agencies, coordinating parallel international investigations, disrupted massive conspiracies to import hundreds of millions of dollars in counterfeit goods from China and 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from Taiwan, and to export restricted U.S. military technology to Taiwan and China. Twenty-nine defendants were charged in four separate complaints and 27 have been arrested for their roles in the scheme that attempted to defeat federal border and port security measures at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Elizabeth, N.J. 

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 123,000 community policing officers across the country.
  • 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 and has awarded nearly $250 billion in public safety grants to more than 150 tribal communities in the last two years alone.
  • 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 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 2o11.

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 Department is supporting effective prisoner reentry and reinvestment programs.

For example:

  • During fiscal year 2012, the Department awarded $58 million Second Chance Act grants to support reentry strategies for adults and youth. These grants fund a wide range of government agencies and nonprofit organizations that are leading the way in administering 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.
  • The 20 federal agencies of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, created by the Attorney General in 2011, continue to find concrete ways to remove or help navigate employment and other barriers to successful reentry. The Council’s efforts, along with the research and evaluation efforts sponsored by components within the Department, will promote effective, evidence-based practice.
  • The Department is supporting efforts that are demonstrating effectiveness. As recently described in a Department-supported report, a number of states including Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Texas have shown significant reductions in the three-year recidivism rate.  
  • In September 2012, a “National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction” website was launched with Department support that allows searching and sorting – within and across jurisdictions – by consequence type, triggering offense category and a number of other salient characteristics. This effort addresses about 35,000 statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences, or additional punishments, on people convicted of crimes. About 50 percent of them have to do with barriers to employment.
  • 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. Seventeen states participate in the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, an across-the-board analysis of statewide crime and corrections data designed to help officials redirect public funds from costly prison building projects to cost-effective programs aimed at ensuring greater public safety. Based on these analyses, the states have enacted legislation and implemented justice reinvestment policies which incentivize use of risk based decision making, increase services and support for victims, target grants to law enforcement and establish state wide standards and training for probation agencies.

Last updated: July 2013

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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 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.
  • The Department has prosecuted some of the most significant financial crimes, bringing to justice individuals and companies alike for their illegal actions charging and in many instances convicting numerous individuals across the country who perpetrated investment, securities and other fraud schemes.
  • In the past 18months alone, members of the Task Force have charged and had sentenced a number of defendants involved in securities fraud and related investment fraud, mortgage fraud and Ponzi schemes. These defendants include CEOs, owners, board members, presidents, general counsel and other executives of Wall Street firms, hedge funds and banks including:
    • On July 24, 2013, former UBS AG executives, Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz and Michael Welty, 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. 
    • On June 28, 2013, 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, 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 (BNC). Powers and McMaster, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and wire fraud, were each ordered to pay a money judgment to the government of more than approximately $28 million and to pay restitution to BNC bank in that same amount.
    • On June 14, 2013, the CEO of Axius Inc. Roland Kaufmann was sentenced 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.
    • On May 24, 2013, top executives at Virginia’s Bank of the Commonwealth, including CEO and Board Chairman Edward Woodard, were convicted 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) estimates will cost the FDIC deposit-insurance fund approximately $268 million.
    • On April 8, 2013, Glen Alan Ward, a 12-year federal fugitive, pleaded guilty 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.
    • On February 6, 2013, RBS Securities Japan Limited agreed to pay a fine and plead guilty to felony wire fraud and admit its role in connection with its long-running manipulation of the Japanese Yen London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). In addition, the Justice Department filed a criminal information charging parent company, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), with wire fraud for its role in manipulating LIBOR and with participation in a price-fixing conspiracy as part of a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). The DPA required the bank to admit and accept responsibility for its misconduct, to continue cooperating with the Justice Department in its ongoing investigation and to pay a penalty.  Together, with approximately $462 million in regulatory penalties and disgorgement, the Justice Department’s criminal penalties with RBS and RBS Securities Japan totaled approximately $612 million.
    • On February 5, 2013, the Department filed a civil lawsuit against the credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) alleging that S&P engaged in a scheme to defraud investors in structured financial products known as residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs). According to the complaint, federally insured financial institutions suffered approximately $5B in losses in connection with the failure of CDOs rated by S&P from March to October 2007.
    • 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 dollars in losses and countless foreclosures.
    • On October 24, 2012, Rajat Gupta, chairman of an international consulting firm and member of the boards of directors at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble, was sentenced to two years in prison for insider trading in which he provided confidential information about Goldman Sachs to his business partner and friend, Raj Rajaratnam.
    • On October 18, 2012, Dominick P. Carollo, Steven E. Goldberg and Peter S. Grimm, all former executives of General Electric Co. (GE) affiliates were sentenced in the Southern District of New York, for their participation in conspiracies related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts.
    • On September 18, 2012, Shawn L. Portmann, a former senior vice president and loan officer at Pierce Commercial Bank in Washington pleaded guilty to a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the collapse of the bank.
    • On September 11, 2012, former bank executive Joseph M. Braas was sentenced to 180 months in prison for his role in a fraud conspiracy that caused the Bank of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania to cease its independent existence. As a result of the fraud, hundreds of jobs were lost.
    • On June 27, 2012, Barclays Bank PLC, agreed to pay $160 million penalty to resolve violations arising from its false submissions for benchmark interest rates used in financial markets around the world.
    • On June 29, 2012, Peter Madoff, brother of Bernard Madoff and the former Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Managing Director of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, pleaded guilty to securities fraud, tax fraud, mail fraud, falsifying records of an investment advisor and making false statements to investors. Peter Madoff faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and must forfeit more than $143.1 billion including his personal property.
    • On June 14, 2012, financier Robert Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison for orchestrating a $7 billion investment fraud scheme.
    • On June 1, 2012, CEO Eric A. Bloom and head trader Charles K. Mosley of Illinois bankrupt Sentinel Management Group Inc. were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding more than 70 customers of more than $500 million before the firm collapsed in August 2007.
    • On April 30, 2012, Minor Vargas Calvo, president of CostaRica based Provident Capital Indemnity Ltd. was convicted for carrying out a half-billion dollar fraud scheme that affected more than 2,000 victims in the United States and abroad.
    • On February 1, 2012, criminal charges were filed against two managing directors and a vice president at Credit Suisse Group for failing to assign a fair value to Credit Suisse’s RMBS and CMBS assets, 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 mortgage fraud. In fiscal years 2010 - 2012, the Justice Department charged nearly 3,000 defendants throughout the country with mortgage fraud-related crimes.

Examples include:

  • 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.
  • 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 $184.3 million 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.
  • On May 31, 2012, the Department announced a $21 million settlement with SunTrust Mortgage Inc., which, in the years leading to the financial crisis, violated fair lending laws by charging African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees on home mortgage loans because of their race or national origin and not their creditworthiness. 

The Department has vigorously enforced the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). 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 service members 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, service members who were foreclosed on in violation of the law will receive a minimum of $125,000 plus compensation for lost equity. 

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:

  • 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, 277 criminal cases have been filed and more than $3 billion in criminal fines have been obtained. In the period 2010-2012, 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, environmental services, and post-Hurricane Katrina remedial work.

Results include:

  • 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.
  • The division’s ongoing investigation into the municipal bond industry to date has resulted in charges against 20 former industry executives, and nearly $745 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, 19 financial services executives and one corporation have been convicted, including three former UBS executives and three former executives of General Electric Co. affiliates who were convicted at trial for their roles in conspiracies involving investment contracts for the proceeds of municipal bonds.
  • The division filed charges in its ongoing auto parts investigation against Furukawa Electric Co., Yazaki Corp., Fujikura Ltd., Denso Corp., Autoliv Inc., G.S. Electech Inc., TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, Nippon Seiki Co. Ltd.,Tokai Rika Co. Ltd., and executives, which resulted in $809 million in criminal fines, including the second largest criminal fine ever (and more than was imposed in all of FY 2011), and landmark prison sentences against the culpable executives.
  • 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 53 individuals and two companies engaged in collusive schemes aimed at eliminating competition at real estate foreclosure auctions.
  • 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 Department has prevented anticompetitive mergers and preserved market competition: Since 2009, the Department has challenged 70 anticompetitive mergers, including transactions in the consumer goods, transportation, technology and telecommunications industries, and challenged 24 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. The Division currently has a record seven matters in civil litigation.

Notable merger cases and issues include:

  • A settlement with Verizon and four of the nation’s largest cable companies—Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications—requiring changes to a series of agreements concerning both the sale of bundled wireless and wireline services and the formation of a technology research joint venture. The settlement removes provisions that would lessen the companies’ incentives to compete aggressively in the areas where Verizon’s FiOS services offer a critical competitive alternative to the cable companies’ video and broadband products and also limits the duration of the companies’ collaboration, ensuring that they retain incentives to compete against one another.
  • The trial victory blocking the H&R Block Inc./TaxACT deal—the Antitrust Division’s first merger case litigated to judgment successfully since 2003.
  • The lawsuit 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, 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.
  • The suit to block Anheuser-Busch InBev’s proposed acquisition of Grupo Modelo, which as the largest and third largest beer firms, respectively, together control about 46 percent of annual sales in the United States.
  • The suit challenging Bazaarvoice’s consummated acquisition of Power Reviews, a transaction that combined the dominant commercial supplier of ratings and reviews platforms in the United States with its closest rival.
  • The suit 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:

  • A 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)–and continuing litigation against Apple Inc. 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.
  • A 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.
  • The suit and continuing litigation against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan challenging its most favored nation clauses in its contracts with hospitals.
  • The suit against American Express, MasterCard and Visa, challenging their rules restricting price competition. The department reached a settlement with Visa and MasterCard—the case continues against American Express.
  • The suit and continuing litigation against eBay for entering into an agreement not to recruit or hire Intuit Inc.’s employees.

The Department has established the most effective strike force in history to protect Medicare money: In 2009, Attorney General Holder and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 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 six nationwide takedowns resulting in charges against almost 600 individuals with schemes involving nearly $2 billion in fraudulent billings. Strike Force operations since their inception in 2007 have charged more than 1,500 defendants who collectively have falsely billed the Medicare program for more than $5 billion.

The Department has returned historic amounts of taxpayer dollars through the False Claims Act. Since 2009, the Department has recovered more than$14.5 billion in False Claims Act cases. $10.7 billion of those recoveries are from cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. Money recovered goes back to the federal agency that was defrauded, replenishing federal funds and sending a message to potential scammers that ultimately they will be required to pay up to three times the amount of their fraud.

Results of these efforts include:

  • In 2012, the Department reported unparalleled recoveries of $5 billion under the False Claims Act – more than in any previous year. This included a record-setting recovery of more than $3 billion in matters alleging fraud against government health care programs.
  • Also in2012, the Department received an all-time high of 647 relator (whistleblower) cases under the False Claims Act. This represents a nearly 50 percent increase since 2009, when 433 such matters were filed with the Department.
  • Two of the Department’s top five recoveries against companies that were alleged to have promoted pharmaceuticals for treatment of certain illnesses that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration occurred in the last year. These consisted of:
    • A record $3 billion recovery from global health care giant, GlaxoSmithKline, to resolve criminal and civil liability arising from allegations that it unlawfully promoted certain prescription drugs, failed to report certain safety data, and reported false prices;
    • A recovery of $1.5 billion from Abbott Laboratories Inc. to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company's unlawful promotion of the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Department has expanded efforts to combat corruption at home and abroad. Since 2009, the Department has increased enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and established the Kleptocracy Initiative, a groundbreaking asset forfeiture program to identify and forfeit the proceeds of foreign corruption.

Results of these efforts include:

  • Since 2009, the Department has entered into more than 40 corporate resolutions, including nine of the top 10 biggest resolutions ever in terms of penalties, resulting in approximately $2.6 billion in monetary penalties.
  • The Kleptocracy Initiative has executed forfeiture judgment against a private home in Maryland estimated to be worth more than $700,000 that was purchased with the proceeds of corruption traceable to a former governor of an oil-producing state in Nigeria and a judgment of an approximately $2.1 million combined value for a Manhattan condominium and a Virginia residence which were purchased with the proceeds of bribes paid to the family of the former President of Taiwan. 

The Department has made historic progress in combating the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals. Over the past four 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 five 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:

  • Through a deferred prosecution agreement and a civil summons settlement that the Tax Division negotiated in 2009 with Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS AG, the U.S. government obtained account information about thousands of the most significant tax cheats holding secret Swiss bank accounts as well as $780 million in taxes, interest, penalties and disgorgement of illegal profits from the bank.
  • Additional enforcement efforts have resulted in:
    • Criminal charges against bankers, attorneys, investment advisors and account holders in connection with activities conducted by banks located in Switzerland, India and Israel.
    • The groundbreaking January 213 guilty plea entered by Wegelin & Co., the oldest Swiss private bank and the first foreign bank to plead guilty to felony tax charges.
    • Issuance of court orders authorizing the IRS to serve John Doe summonses seeking records of U.S. correspondent accounts of banks located in Switzerland and the Caribbean.
    • Participation by over 38,000 taxpayers to enter voluntary disclosure programs offered by the IRS in 2009 and 2011, which resulted in the IRS collectin gbillions of dollars in taxes, interest and penalties.

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.

Last updated: July 2013

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Protecting Against Threats to the Most Vulnerable Populations

The Department has charged a record number of human trafficking cases. Over the past four years, the Department has increased the number of human trafficking prosecutions by more than 38 percent in forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases, while also increasing the number of convictions in Innocence Lost National Initiative cases by 30 percent. The Department announced the formation of 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. Since initiating the ACTeam, we have launched six Phase I Pilot ACTeams around the country.

Significant accomplishments include:

  • The Department dismantled a large, transnational organized criminal enterprise that held Ukrainian victims in forced labor in Philadelphia.
  • 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 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 launched several initiatives to build capacity and advance the development of an enhanced framework for regional police cooperation and information sharing that can be applied to bi-lateral and multi-lateral anti-trafficking operations and will serve as an example for other countries in the affected regions.

The Department has investigated and prosecuted hate crimes under the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. 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 four fiscal years (2009-2012), the Department has prosecuted 29 percent more hate crime cases than were prosecuted in the previous three fiscal years (2005-2008), and charged 78 percent more hate crime defendants.
  • The Department has brought 21 cases, charging 53 defendants. Of those 53 defendants, 40 have been convicted. The Department has prosecuted cases under the Shepard-Byrd Act in Arkansas, 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 that Acting Associate Attorney General Tony West will oversee the creation of an American Indian/Alaska Native Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence.   The task force will be a joint effort between the Departments of Justice and Interior and tribal governments. The task force will focus on improving the identification and treatment of American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence; supporting American Indian and Alaska Native communities and tribes as they define their own responses to this problem; and involving American Indian and Alaska Native youth in developing solutions.
  • In 2010, the Department awarded grants to eight sites in cities and tribal communities around the country to develop strategic plans for comprehensive community-based efforts that will further demonstrate the goals of the Defending Childhood Initiative. Each of these sites and communities received additional support in 2011 to help launch, sustain and expand programs and organizations focused on the development of community-based solutions to address the problem.
  • The Department has also provided funding for research, evaluation, public awareness and training for professional members and affiliates of national organizations through the Defending Childhood Initiative. For example, the American Psychological Association received Department funding to develop a national training program to increase the number of mental health professionals informed about and prepared to adopt family-oriented, culturally sensitive, evidence-based treatments for children who are victims of violence.

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, 57 of the 72 charged defendants have been arrested in the United States and abroad. Forty-seven individuals have pleaded guilty, and one was convicted at trial.
  • In May 2012, Department obtained a life sentence for a Florida man who was convicted of sex trafficking and producing child pornography of seven minor victims out of a house near Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. His wife was sentenced to 13 years, and another co-defendant was sentenced to 4 years, for their roles in the crimes.
  • In February 2013, the Department obtained a conviction against a former Michigan resident who sexually abused more than 16 impoverished children in Haiti who were living at a residential facility operated by Carter that provided shelter, food, clothing and school tuition to Haitian children. 
  • Additionally, since 2009, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces conducted 158,325 investigations leading to the arrest of 24,505 individuals and the identification of 11,734 child pornography victims.

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:

  • The Department added substantial numbers of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, FBI agents, and victim specialists working in Indian Country.
  • 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.
  • According to the Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions 2011-2012 Report, 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. Caseloads have increased overall 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. This represents a nearly 54 percent increase in the Indian country crime caseload.
  • 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.

On March 7, 2013, President Obama signed into the law the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  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.  

The tribal provisions in VAWA address three significant legal gaps by:

  • Recognizing certain Tribes' authority to exercise concurrent jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence, regardless of whether the defendant is Indian or non-Indian;
  • Clarifying that tribal courts have full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders involving any persons, Indian or non-Indian; and
  • Providing more robust federal sentences for certain acts of domestic violence in Indian country.

The Department continues to vigorously enforce the right of equal access to the ballot box. Since 2009, the Department of Justice has closely monitored new state laws that would significantly change how elections are conducted.

For example:

  • In 2012, the Department obtained favorable judgments in four different cases under Section 5 of the voting rights act, which ensures equal access to the political process. This includes decisions protecting the rights of minority voters affected by Texas statewide redistricting maps, the Texas and South Carolina voter ID laws and Florida's early voting changes.
  • In fiscal year 2012, the Department received 6,731 submissions for review under Section 5, including 1,454 redistricting plans from jurisdictions covered by Section 5. Overall, the Department anticipates that it will have reviewed more than 2,700 redistricting plans following the release of the 2010 Census data.

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:

  • For the November 2, 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).
  • In 2012, the Department has filed lawsuits against seven states and territories to enforce UOCAVA for the 2012 federal primary, special and general election cycle.

The Department launched the first-ever Access to Justice Initiative.  In this 50th anniversary year of 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 2012, the Office of Justice Programs awarded nearly $3 million in grants to improve defender services for the poor.
  • Support tribal courts through the Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Training Program, a three-day trial advocacy course designed to improve the trial skills of judges, public defenders and prosecutors who appear in tribal courts. 
  • Help create and enhance state Access to Justice Commissions and encourage State Attorneys General to support Legal Services in high stakes civil proceedings resulting in well‐constructed foreclosure mediation programs for the nearly eight million American households at risk of losing their homes; training materials for civil legal aid providers to assist them in recognizing the signs of elder abuse and the appropriate legal remedies; and a commitment to ensuring that potential claimants for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund easily understand their rights and processes to secure needed assistance.
  • Pursue Cross-Cutting Initiatives that promote innovative justice solutions through multi-agency collaborations like the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  Access to Justice, with support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, convened a summit to discuss constructive alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness, including alternative justice system strategies.

The Department has initiated a record number of inquiries into police departments throughout the country to ensure constitutional police practices. In 2011 and 2012, the Department has been monitoring compliance of, in litigation with, or investigating 26 state and local law enforcement agencies regarding civil patterns or practices in violation of the Constitution or federal law. This is the largest number of law enforcement agencies being reviewed at any one time in the history of the Department.

These efforts include:

  • 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.

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:

  • The Department has led efforts along with the Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury to resolve decades-long and costly litigation brought by 114 tribes against the United States relating to the government's management of trust funds and trust resources. As a result, the United States has settled cases with 76 tribes, and has agreed to pay about $1.95 billion to resolve the tribes' claims in an expedited, fair and just manner.
  • 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 litigated alongside the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and assisted them in securing the existence and boundaries of its reservation through a settlement between the Tribe, the United States, the state of Michigan and local governments.

Last updated: July 2013

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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 example:

  • 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.

Last updated: July 2013

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Protecting The Environment

The Department has renewed its commitment to Environmental Justice. Over the past four 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 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:

  • Under a Clean Water Act settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, some of the first pollution control measures implemented will benefit underserved communities and additional $42 million will be spent on green infrastructure projects that will help address sewage overflows where many minority and low-income residents live.
  • Under a Clean Water Act settlement with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, $4.7 billion will be spent 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 levels in urban rivers and streams.

The Department continues to protect the nation's water, air and land from harmful pollution. Through its civil and criminal environmental enforcement actions, the Department achieved dramatic reductions in emissions and discharges of harmful pollutants to America's air, water and land. The Department has achieved record recoveries from parties responsible for violating the nation's environmental laws.

  • Since 2009 the Department has:
    • Secured more than $28 billion in corrective measures through court orders and settlements.
    • Secured nearly $3.4 billion in civil and stipulated penalties, cost recoveries, natural resource damages, and other civil monetary relief, including more than $1.4 billion recovered for the Superfund.
    • Concluded 170 criminal cases against 319 defendants, and obtained a total of 155 years in confinement and almost $256 million in criminal fines, restitution, community service funds and special assessments.
  • In 2012 alone the Department has:
    • Secured more than $397 million in civil and stipulated penalties, cost recoveries, natural resource damages and other civil monetary relief, including almost $133 million recovered for the Superfund.
    • Obtained over $6.9 billion in corrective measures through court orders and settlements.
    • Concluded 47 criminal cases against 83 defendants, resulting in nearly 21 years in confinement and over $38 million in criminal fines, restitution, community service funds and special assessments.

Last updated: July 2013

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