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Eastern District of New York Staff Recognized by Attorney General Holder at Annual Awards Ceremony

October 27, 2010

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric Holder recognizes 303 Department of Justice employees for their distinguished public service today at the 58th Annual Attorney General Awards Ceremony. Fifty-five 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, the prosecution teams on two of the Eastern District of New York’s most significant recent cases received Attorney General’s Awards. EDNY Assistant United States Attorneys Berit W. Berger, David M. Bitkower, Jeffrey H. Knox, and James P. Loonam, and EDNY Investigator John Ross, were part of a multi-district team awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service for Operation High Rise, an investigation and prosecution of an al-Qaeda terrorist cell that plotted to conduct suicide bombings on New York subway trains. The Exceptional Service Award is the highest award granted by the Attorney General within the Department of Justice. EDNY Assistant United States Attorney William Campos was part of a multi-district team awarded the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, the Department’s second highest award, for investigating and prosecuting United States v. Albert Gonzalez, et al., an international identity theft and hacking ring.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate this year’s Attorney General Award winners and to recognize their extraordinary contributions,” Attorney General Holder said. “Not only is their service to our nation inspiring, it is strengthening the work of the Justice Department at every level and making a powerful difference for people across our country, and far beyond. This year’s awardees exemplify the Department’s finest traditions, and I am privileged, and grateful, to count them as colleagues.”

Operation High Rise

The team’s tireless dedication to the preserving the safety of the United States and its citizens prevented a deadly terrorist attack in New York, the most serious plot to attack our nation since the events of September 11, 2001. The Operation High Rise investigations and prosecutions of Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, among others, successfully disrupted, dismantled, and prosecuted a core al-Qaeda cell that was trained and deployed to conduct a mass casualty attack against the New York Subway system. The team members were called upon at an extraordinary time in this nation’s history and performed in an extraordinary way. Working long hours, they joined together to ensure that every avenue was examined and no stone left unturned in their efforts to learn the nature of the plot and ensure that lives were saved. Their professionalism, leadership, and unflagging commitment to our nation’s security are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Department of Justice.

United States v. Albert Gonzalez, et al.

The prosecution team conducted the largest and most successful identity theft and hacking investigations and prosecutions ever conducted in the United States. Their work included a series of prosecutions of hackers, including Albert Gonzalez, which caused the theft of millions of identities from American citizens and the loss of over $400 million to American online retailers, customers, and payment processors. The team’s efforts resulted in the identification of an international hacking ring, the successful penetration of that ring, the apprehension of ring members in the United States, the Middle East, and Asia, and their conviction before American and foreign courts. In conducting their investigations and prosecutions, the team combined traditional law enforcement techniques, such as undercover investigations, with high technology techniques, including computer forensics, to produce a model for 21st century law enforcement.

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