The Criminal Division is the largest division in the office. Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) in the Criminal Division prosecute cases arising from a wide array of criminal activity. The Criminal Division is divided into several sections. The organization of the criminal division reflects the prosecution priorities of the Department Of Justice and the United States Attorney.
The first priority of the Department of Justice is to prevent terrorism and promote national security. The U.S. Attorney chairs an Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council, and serves on the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, and specially trained AUSAs are responsible for prosecuting violations of federal international and domestic terrorism laws. Such crimes include the use of weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to terrorists, and weapons and explosives violations.
Community Protection Section
The Community Protection Section is responsible for prosecuting violations of federal law that affect the safety and well being of citizens throughout the district. Violent crimes including child exploitation, bank robbery, carjacking, arson, gang activity, firearms violations, kidnapping, sex trafficking, hate crimes, civil rights, and crimes involving public corruption, environmental, wildlife, postal and immigration fall within the purview of this section. In addition, the Section prosecutes violations from two National Wildlife Refuges, a National Recreation Area, six Corps of Engineers Properties and a National Park. AUSAs in this section also serve in leadership positions and have program responsibility for the Justice Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods and Project Safe Childhood initiatives.
Economic and Health Care Fraud Section
Prosecuting financial crimes is a top priority for the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky. The Economic and Health Care Fraud section handles cases involving bank and mortgage fraud, investment fraud, tax fraud, identity theft, and fraud committed by corporate and individual defendants against Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance providers. The section also prosecutes complex computer crimes, including hacking or intrusions, and other internet-related crimes.
Drug Crimes Section
The Drug Crimes Section focuses upon prosecuting federal criminal offenses involving unlawful importation, possession, distribution, and manufacture of controlled substances. The Section, together with the Community Protection Section, also handles gang-related crimes that have a nexus to narcotics trafficking.
The Drug Crimes Section participates in Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), which are used to combat the most serious drug-trafficking organizations operating within the United States, importing drugs into the United States, or laundering the proceeds of drug trafficking. In addition, the Drug Crimes section works with the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) organization, which manages federal resources to support task forces that conduct controlled substance investigations in designated HIDTA counties within the district.
Other Criminal Division Functions
Since two major military installations – Fort Knox and Fort Campbell – are located within the district, military lawyers from the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps are assigned as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys (SAUSAs). The SAUSAs prosecute felony and misdemeanor offenses arising on the military installations.
A Criminal Division AUSA is also assigned to the Asset Forfeiture Unit and is responsible for asset forfeiture matters arising throughout the district. This AUSA utilizes federal forfeiture laws to seize, on behalf of the United States, proceeds of crimes, contraband, and property used to facilitate criminal activity. The forfeiture of such property removes the profit motive from crime, disrupts and deters criminal activity, and dismantles criminal enterprises. Forfeited proceeds are used to provide full or partial restitution to victims and in certain cases are shared with state or local law enforcement agencies to assist them in their investigation of crimes.