The U.S. Attorney's Criminal Division is responsible for enforcing federal criminal laws in the District of Idaho. The Division includes prosecutors in the main office in Boise and in the Pocatello and Coeur d'Alene branch offices. The Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) who comprise the Division bring a wealth of experience in the law at all levels.
When a federal crime is committed it is the responsibility of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to investigate. If their investigation indicates a potentially prosecutable federal offense, they refer the case to the U.S. Attorney and an AUSA is assigned. The AUSA works closely with the investigating agency and, with the guidance of the U.S. Attorney, decides whether to present the case to a grand jury. Unlike state prosecutions, all federal prosecutions must go through a grand jury, which decides whether to charge the individual or individuals. A federal charge is called a bill of indictment.
Once a case has been indicted by a grand jury the AUSA is responsible for all stages of the prosecution, including plea agreements, trials and sentencing hearings. In general, cases prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Criminal Division fall into one of nine categories.
Crimes in Indian Country
Crimes Against Children
Gun and Gang Violence in Idaho, called "Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN)"
Drug Trafficking, and the "Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF)"
Fraud and White Collar Crime
Criminal Asset Forfeiture
Idaho has five Indian Reservations within its borders: the Shosone-Bannock at Fort Hall in eastern Idaho; Duck Valley on the Idaho-Nevada border; the Nez Perce in north central Idaho; and the Coeur d'Alene and Kootenai in the Panhandle. Because it is the federal government's responsibility to assist and protect the people of Indian Country, the U.S. Attorney's Office - rather than the state - prosecutes felony crimes occurring on these reservations. The Office works hard to foster a respectful and harmonious relationship with the Tribes and tribal members.
The goal of the U.S. Attorney's Office is to incarcerate and remove out of the United States any criminal aliens found within the District. Because such aliens pose the greatest risk to public safety, the Office focuses its prosecutorial resources on them, placing the highest priority on the prosecution of previously-convicted aliens who have returned to Idaho and committed new crimes.
Victimization of children impacts not only the children themselves but also their families, communities and society at large. Because of their legal, physical and social vulnerabilities, children are sometimes subjected to physical or sexual abuse. Many of the people who prey on children are not first-time offenders, but rather serial offenders who target children.
In general, the U.S. Attorney's Office gets involved when children are victimized in Indian Country, when the abuser crosses state lines, or when the crime involves child pornography sent through the mail or via the Internet.
The U.S. Attorney's "Project Safe Neighborhoods" seeks to reduce gun violence in Idaho by targeting violent criminal offenders who carry or use guns to commit crimes. The effectiveness of PSN is based on the ability of federal, state and local agencies to cooperate in a unified offensive. PSN prosecutions send a clear message to anyone who illegally uses or possesses a gun that "gun crime means hard time" in the District of Idaho.
The U.S. Attorney's Office plays an important role in reducing drug trafficking and related violence by identifying, disrupting, and dismantling regional drug trafficking rings. It focuses on filling gaps where local law enforcement agencies do not have the resources to keep pace with the myriad regional and international organizations trafficking drugs in Idaho. By coordinating with state and local agencies through the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force, the Office has led complex investigations that have successfully targeted the leaders and organizers of large regional, national and international drug networks.
The Office also seeks to break the cycle of drugs and violence by using education to help reduce the demand for illegal drugs.
The U.S. Attorney's Office recognizes that strong deterrence is needed to prevent con artists from defrauding the people of Idaho and weakening its institutions and economy. The Office aggressively pursues fraud investigations that have a federal nexus, focusing particularly on corporate, financial institution and health care fraud. Federal prosecutors work closely with federal, state and local fraud investigators to ensure that those who use a pen to commit a crime face stiff penalties just as surely as those who use a gun. Prosecutors place particular emphasis on obtaining restitution, or repayment, for those who have been defrauded.
After the September 11 attacks, the Attorney General directed U.S. Attorney's Offices nationwide to form "Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils (ATACs)" comprised of representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. Idaho's federal ATAC partners include the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Drug Enforcement Administration; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Marshals Service; the Secret Service; and the Department of Homeland Security. The Idaho ATAC coordinates anti-terrorism initiatives, initiates training programs and facilitates information sharing.
Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. Typically, the perpetrator assumes the good name and credit of a victim in order to steal money, property and services from other unsuspecting victims. The U.S. Attorney's office has taken an aggressive approach to prosecuting identity theft, using new federal laws that impose substantial penalties for such crimes. With the advent of the Internet and the access it provides to vast stores of identity information, federal law enforcement is often best situated to investigate and prosecute these complex crimes. The Office works closely with its state and local counterparts to protect Idaho citizens.
The Asset Forfeiture Unit assists federal prosecutors in recovering the proceeds of crime. Federal laws require that people convicted of crimes such as drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, or terrorism must forfeit both their profits and the equipment they used to commit the crimes. Forfeited assets are used to repay the victims of crime and to fund federal, state, and local law enforcement activities.
Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a collaborative effort by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and communities to prevent and deter gun violence.