The Civil Division defends lawsuits brought against the United States, such as constitutional torts, medical malpractice, negligence claims, defense of federal programs and agency decisions, employment discrimination, immigration, social security, and bankruptcy. In addition, the Civil Division brings affirmative civil rights actions and mortgage fraud cases on behalf of the government.
Mary Pat Fleming is the Civil Chief and has held the title for nearly sixteen years. Ms. Fleming was an Assistant District Attorney for one year in 1985-86. She then worked as an associate in the law firms of Moot & Sprague and Lustig & Brown practicing in the area of insurance defense. In 1988, Ms. Fleming was appointed as an Assistant County Attorney and served in this position until 1993, when she became Second Assistant County Attorney with supervisory responsibilities. As an Assistant County Attorney, Ms. Fleming was responsible for civil defense litigation for the self-insured County of Erie. As the Second Assistant County Attorney, Ms. Fleming was responsible for supervising attorneys who were conducting the civil defense litigation in the office. In 1994, she was appointed as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division. In 1995, she was promoted to Civil Chief. From 2005-2010, Ms. Fleming served on the Civil Chiefs Working Group which explores and attempts to resolve civil issues affecting the various U.S. Attorney’s Offices.
The Civil Division is comprised of ten AUSAs in the Buffalo Office and three in the Rochester Office. AUSA Mary K. Roach is the civil Senior Litigation Counsel and organizes office-wide legal training twice a year, assigns mentoring relationships, and ensures that mandatory training on professionalism, ethics, sexual harassment, etc. is conducted on an annual basis.
In addition, the Civil Division has two specialized units. Those are as follows:
Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit
The Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit is responsible for civil enforcement of health care fraud, government procurement fraud, and other forms of fraud against the federal government.
Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit - Chief Richard Kaufman
The Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit (“AFFLU”) seeks forfeiture of assets in both criminal and civil cases, collects debts owed to the government, enforces judgments and recovers restitution on behalf of crime victims. The AFFLU also assists with money laundering prosecutions and provides litigation assistance in other significant cases being prosecuted by the office.
This past year saw great changes in the Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Units. Previously separate units, these 2 units have now combined forces and is known as the Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit. Since one of the primary focuses of the federal asset forfeiture program is to remove property from criminals and use those proceeds to compensate victims, it made sense to combine the efforts of these units. One of the main goals of the new unit is to become more proactive in the early identification of defendants’ assets in order to satisfy anticipated restitution orders. The new unit has also implemented a series of more aggressive approaches in collecting restitution owed to victims. In certain cases, both legacy forfeiture and legacy financial litigation personnel work side by side insuring that victims are made whole.