United States Attorney David. J. Hickton has restructured the U.S. Attorney's Office to focus attorney expertise and resources on specific categories of crimes and to more evenly distribute the caseload and levels of experience throughout the office.
The Criminal Division is comprised of four comprehensive Sections: Civil Rights and Exploitation, National Security, Violent Crimes, and Fraud and Corruption.
The Civil Rights and Exploitation Section highlights the priority of the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to expand criminal and civil prosecutions related to hate crimes, police misconduct and to other civil rights violations. In addition, this Section prosecutes crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children and human trafficking.
The National Security Section allows for expanded and enhanced efforts to assure the security of our homeland and to better prepare for and respond to cyber attacks upon critical infrastructure. The Section also investigates and prosecutes sophisticated computer offenses.
The Violent Crimes Section focuses on the investigation and prosecution of a diverse caseload including firearms offenses, drug crimes, gang activity and bank robberies.
The Fraud and Corruption Section tackles crimes that include public corruption; financial institution fraud, including mortgage fraud; health care fraud; identity theft; government program fraud and environmental crimes. The Asset Forfeiture and Financial Litigation Unit resources have been merged into a Financial Penalties Unit under this Section.
The Civil Division is comprised of two sections: Defensive Litigation and Affirmative Civil Enforcement. The main office in Pittsburgh is responsible for all civil litigation in the District, including Erie and Johnstown, with the exception of Social Security Disability Claims.
The Defensive Litigation Section is responsible for defending the United States, its agencies, and its employees in all civil matters in district court and when necessary in state court. This includes subpoena enforcement as well as resisting disclosure in state criminal or civil proceedings where the United States is not a party. The primary responsibilities of this section are torts (medical malpractice, excessive force, wrongful arrest, personal injury, etc.); employment discrimination; constitutional challenges; and program litigation, i.e. review of administrative or federal agency actions. In addition to purely defensive representation, this Section also represents the United States and its agencies in bankruptcy court, generally as creditors.
The Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Section is responsible for civil enforcement actions in the Western District of Pennsylvania. This section works closely with the Criminal Division of the office in "parallel" civil prosecutions, seeking remedies which are traditionally civil in nature, but have punitive and deterrent as well as compensatory characteristics. These remedies include monetary recovery under the False Claims Act and several civil monetary recovery statutes such as 18 U.S.C. §1345. Primarily, the ACE section is involved only in cases where the federal government has a financial/commercial loss or was an intended victim, when federal funds were involved. However, other areas where loss of federal funds is not essential for a potential civil recovery are drug diversion matters, environmental crimes, and financial institution fraud cases.
The Appellate Division handles all appeals in civil and criminal cases to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which is based in Philadelphia and has appellate jurisdiction of federal cases arising in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the United States Virgin Islands. Upon final judgment in federal district court, the losing party may appeal to the Court of Appeals, which reviews the rulings of the district court. Most of the government's appeals are appeals by criminal defendants from their convictions and sentences. Handling an appeal generally involves a thorough review of the record, the preparation of an extensive brief, and the presentation of oral argument before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals sitting in either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh.
The Appellate Division also provides legal advice to the United States Attorney and other Assistant United States Attorneys on various legal and policy issues.
The Administrative Division provides support to the U.S. Attorney's Office staff in the areas of human resources, financial management, acquisitions management, systems (information technology) management, facilities management, public affairs, and support services.
The Executive Committee involves a cross section of attorneys who meet regularly with office leadership to address training and education, long-range planning, diversity and pro bono programs, and selective significant case review.
Protect yourself from fraud, and report suspected cases of financial fraud to local law enforcement.