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October 20, 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5 MARYLAND ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS
RECEIVE EOUSA DIRECTOR’S AWARDS
Five Maryland Assistant U.S. Attorneys were honored today with 2006 Director’s Awards from the Justice Department’s Executive Office for United States Attorneys. The awards were presented by Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty and EOUSA Director Michael Battle at a ceremony held in the Great Hall of the United States Department of Justice, in Washington, D.C.
A panel selects the recipients of Director’s Awards based on nominations submitted by each of the nation’s 94 U.S. Attorneys. 154 award recipients were recognized today, including Assistant U.S. Attorneys, litigation and information technology support personnel and others who have made outstanding contributions in federal, state and local law enforcement.
“Today’s award recipients are honored for their extraordinary commitment to protecting our communities, promoting justice and preserving the civil liberties that make our country so great,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. “It is through their dedicated efforts and sacrifice that we are able to preserve justice for our communities, our nation and for future generations.”
The Maryland federal prosecutors received awards for their work on three important cases: a joint civil and criminal settlement of a health care fraud case against a major pharmaceutical manufacturer; a prosecution of corrupt Baltimore City police detectives; and a prosecution of international heroin dealers.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said, “It is extraordinary that Maryland Assistant U.S. Attorneys received Director’s Awards in three categories for major cases prosecuted during the past year. I am proud that the Justice Department recognized the exceptional work performed by Maryland’s Assistant U.S. Attorneys this year in the areas of health care fraud, corruption and drug enforcement.”
Roann Nichols was recognized for her work in negotiating the civil settlement of a joint civil/criminal resolution of fraud charges against Serono Laboratories, Inc. in connection with several illegal schemes to promote, market and sell its AIDS drug Serostim. Nichols assisted the Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Massachusetts, where the case was filed. Nichols, who was appointed earlier this year to serve as Deputy Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Division, has spent a total of 17 years with the office. She leads the office’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement program, which pursues civil litigation to recover damages from perpetrators of health care fraud and procurement fraud schemes.
On December 15, 2005, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that Serono had reached a global resolution/countries/us.html in which it agreed to pay a total of $704 million to resolve pending criminal charges and civil liabilities in connection with the several illegal schemes to promote, market and sell Serostim. The global resolution was the third largest health care fraud recovery by the United States. Serono was ordered to pay a $136,935,000 criminal fine and a total of $567,065,000 to settle civil liabilities. The settlement ensured that the federal Medicaid program and each of the state Medicaid agencies that paid claims for Serostim would recoup every dollar paid from 1996 through 2004.
A. David Copperthite and Charles J. Peters
A. David Copperthite and Charles J. Peters, who serve in the U.S. Attorney’s Narcotics and Organized Crime Section, were recognized for their work on the prosecution of Baltimore City police detectives William King and Antonio Murray, which followed an extensive undercover investigation. Copperthite has 9 years of experience as a federal prosecutor. Peters has been with the office since 1994. Both men previously served as Assistant State’s Attorneys in Baltimore City.
Officers King and Murray were convicted on April 7, 2006, on charges of conspiracy to obstruct commerce by robbery; conspiracy to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute heroin, marijuana and over five grams of cocaine base; and conspiracy to possess firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence. Additionally, King was convicted of 13 counts of possession of firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime, seven robberies and seven counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin as well as counts for distribution of marijuana and cocaine base. Murray was convicted of 6 counts of possession of firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence or a drug trafficking crime, four robberies and four counts of possession with intent to distribute heroin.
Testimony at trial proved that King and Murray conspired to rob drug dealers of their drugs and money and then to sell the drugs in Baltimore City. King and Murray took the drugs and drug proceeds from the dealers through threats of force, arrest and prosecution. They then released the dealers without charges. King and Murray later split the proceeds of the illegal seizures from the drug dealers, as well as the proceeds from the sale of the drugs they seized from the dealers. Both men will spend the rest of their lives in federal prison.
Stuart A. Berman and Barbara S. Skalla
Stuart A. Berman and Barbara S. Skalla received Director’s Awards for their work on the prosecution of international drug dealers from Pakistan. Berman was appointed earlier this year to serve as Chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Southern Division, which includes Montgomery, Prince George’s, Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties. He has been a Maryland Assistant U.S. Attorney since 1991. Skalla, who joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1989, is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern Division.
Pakistani drug dealers Muzaffar Khan Afridi and his son Alamdar Khan Afridi were convicted in December 2005, after a four week trial, of conspiracy to distribute and import kilograms of heroin; three counts of distribution of heroin; and eight counts of using telephone communications to facilitate heroin offenses. Muzaffar Khan Afridi was sentenced to serve life in prison, and Alamdar Khan Afridi was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison.
Evidence presented during their trial demonstrated that the Afridis distributed hundreds of kilograms of heroin from Pakistan to the United States, Canada, Europe and Africa. At sentencing, the district court judge noted that the Afridi’s were in the family business of transporting pure heroin all over the world, and described the prosecution as “probably the most serious drug case I’ve ever seen.”
Co-conspirators Zalmai Ibrahimi , age 47, of Laurel, Maryland, Mohammad Khalid Azizi, Bangkok, Thailand, and Waiz Ul-Din Wardak, of Pakistan pleaded guilty to heroin conspiracy charges. Qadar Qudus of Fremont, California, pleaded guilty to money laundering for transmitting funds to the Afridis using the “hawala” money transfer system. Rafiullah Habibi of Alexandria, Virginia pleaded guilty to operating an illegal hawala and to a Travel Act violation.
The Executive Office for United States Attorneys provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorney’s Offices around the country.
This page last modifiedOctober 20, 2006