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Friday, December 4, 2009

Department of Justice

United States Attorney James R. Dedrick Eastern District of Tennessee


[KNOXVILLE, Tenn] -The Department of Justice held its 26th annual Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Director's Awards Ceremony today, during which 146 award recipients from more than 30 districts were recognized for their dedication to carrying out the Department of Justice's mission. Among the award recipients from the Eastern District of Tennessee include:

AUSA Paige A. Winck - Superior Performance as a United States Attorney - Appellate
AUSA Elizabeth S. Tonkin - Superior Performance as a United States Attorney - Civil
AUSA Steven S. Neff - Superior Performance as a United States Attorney - Criminal
AUSA Christopher D. Poole- Superior Performance as a United States Attorney - Criminal

Recipients included Assistant United States Attorneys, law enforcement agents, litigation teams and others who have made outstanding contributions in federal, state and local law enforcement.

"These award recipients have been honored for their service and commitment to our country, as well as to their local communities," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "Each of these dedicated servants has carried out the important mission of the Department of Justice. Their accomplishments have advanced the interests of justice on behalf of the American people."

AUSA Paige A. Winck, who recently retired from service was an AUSA since 1981, and a member of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee since 1986. During that time she has performed exceptional service in writing, editing, reviewing, and coordinating all appellate matters for the Eastern District of Tennessee. For its size, the Eastern District handles a large number of appeals, and until 2008, AUSA Winck was the only AUSA in the office who performed this work. She served as an Appellate Coordinator for the office since 1993.

Since becoming the dedicated ACE AUSA in 2003, Elizabeth S. Tonkin has worked tirelessly and displayed extraordinary legal and leadership skills to pursue remedies for violations of the False Claims Act and other civil statutes. Ms. Tonkin led investigative teams and negotiated multiple settlements for recovery of more than $50,000,000.00. She displayed outstanding leadership skills in coordinating teams to collect and analyze voluminous records in five separate matters that resulted in significant recovery of funds defrauded from federal and state coffers. Her string of successes began in late 2005 with settlement of allegations of 165,000 Medicare claims against a local hospital. She also concluded an additional four investigations concerning (1) 6,000 fraudulent Medicare claims for psychiatric services, (2) six years of overpayments from government and private sources to a cardiology group, (3) fraud in the presentation of claims for contractor bonuses based upon falsified safety records, and (4) more than three years of pharmaceutical overbilling by a national nursing home pharmaceutical provider.

Christopher D. Poole and Steven S. Neff were selected for Director's Awards for their outstanding stewardship of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program and Violent Crime Unit in the Chattanooga office. During their years of service in the Chattanooga branch office, the violent crime rate in the city dropped 31 percent. In 2008, AUSAs Poole and Neff successfully prosecuted the first federal death penalty case in the history of the Eastern District of Tennessee.

Christopher D. Poole has been an AUSA since 2002, when he joined the office and was assigned to the Violent Crime Unit in Chattanooga. Steven S. Neff, an AUSA since 2000, worked in the Violent Crime Unit from 2000 to 2006 when he was reassigned to OCDETF duties. AUSA Neff has continued to prosecute violent offenders in his capacity as an OCDETF AUSA since that time. During their time as violent crime AUSAs, Mr. Poole and Mr. Neff have aggressively sought out and prosecuted the most dangerous offenders in the southern division of our district. In so doing, they forged outstanding relationships with federal, state and local law enforcement officers. They routinely carry some of the heaviest caseloads in the district.

United States Attorney Russ Dedrick, who was present with Attorney General Holder to present the awards in Washington, said he was extremely proud of each of the Assistant United States Attorneys who were recognized for their accomplishments by the Department of Justice. The citizens of east Tennessee are fortunate to have these outstanding individuals representing the United States’ interests and who are involved in the daily prosecution and litigation of cases before the courts in the Eastern District of Tennessee. These AUSAs work extremely hard to protect us from crime and to defend the interests of the United States each day. They are truly deserving of this national recognition.

The extraordinary work of AUSAs Winck, Tonkin, Neff and Poole has helped the Department of Justice to continue it's mission to enforce all of our nation's laws, including prosecuting civil rights violations, gang violence and drug crimes, as well as representing our client agencies, conducting civil enforcement, and assisting victims of crime.

The Executive Office for United States Attorneys provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys' offices around the country. For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit

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