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THREE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA AUSAS AND PARALEGAL SPECIALIST RECOGNIZED AT ATTORNEY GENERAL AWARDS CEREMONY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2011

Attorney General Eric Holder recognizes 340 department employees for their distinguished public service today at the 59th Annual Attorney General Awards Ceremony. Forty-four other individuals outside of the department are also honored for their work. Held at DAR Constitution Hall, this annual ceremony recognizes both department employees and others for their dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice’s mission. This year, three South Florida Assistant U.S. Attorneys and a paralegal specialist were among those to receive this prestigious award: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Lavine, Ana Maria Martinez, Stephanie Evans, and Paralegal Specialist Irene Prager.

“This year’s award recipients have made significant contributions across, and far beyond, the Department of Justice and helped to protect the rights, safety and best interests of the citizens we are privileged to serve,” Attorney General Holder said. “I am grateful for the dedication and passion that these extraordinary public servants bring to their work, and I am honored to count them as colleagues."

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer added, “Each day, I am humbled by the caliber and dedication of the people I work with at the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The individuals honored today represent the best this Office has to offer. It is an honor to congratulate them on their achievements in the cause of justice.”

More specifically, Assistant U.S. Attorney’s Mark Lavine and Ana Maria Martinez, and Paralegal Specialist Irene Prager received the Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention. The recipients were members of the “Average Wholesale Price” (AWP) litigation team, which included participants from our office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, and the Commercial Litigation Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Division. The AWP litigation included three related False Claims Act cases, which culminated in a settlement of over $686 million. In these cases, the government alleged that three drug manufacturers, Abbott Laboratories, Dey, Inc., and Roxane Laboratories, reported falsely inflated drug prices that the Medicare and Medicaid programs used to determine reimbursements. Given the expansive nature of the fraud, the AWP team had to develop novel and sophisticated damages theories based on the culling of evidence from numerous Medicare contractors and the 50 different state Medicaid programs. The four-year civil litigation effort involved 95 drug products, tens of millions of documents, terabytes of electronic data, hundreds of fact and expert witness depositions nationwide, thousands of pages of motions and briefs, and difficult trial preparation. Our office took the lead in the civil prosecution of Abbott, which was represented by more than 50 attorneys during the height of that litigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Evans received an Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for her role in the successful investigation and conviction of Jack Abramoff and Associates. Stephanie worked on the case during her tenure as a U.S. Department of Justice Tax Division Trial Attorney. Jack Abramoff and others illegally gave gifts and made campaign donations to legislators, their family members, and their staffers, in return for votes and other support for legislation. The investigation eventually led to the convictions of numerous Washington insiders, including U.S. Congressman Bob Ney; Deputy Secretary of the Interior Steven Griles; Robert Coughlin, the former Deputy Chief of Staff of DOJ’s Criminal Division; as well as congressional staffers, leaders of special interest groups, and Washington D.C. lobbyists. Stephanie focused on the use of purportedly tax exempt entities to conceal the profits of the scheme and “gifts” to politicians, their family members, and staffers, for the purpose of influencing legislation or other government action.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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