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Civil DivisionBorder fence

Keith Wyatt

Daniel Hu
Deputy Chief
, Houston

John Smith
Deputy Chief, South Texas and Border Fence

AUSAs in the Civil Division represent the United States in civil law suits in state and federal courts throughout the SDTX. The assigned attorney remains responsible for a civil case from the trial court proceedings through appellate review at the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Representation can be for the U.S. as plaintiff or a creditor in bankruptcy proceedings and for the U.S. as a defendant or its officers or employees as defendants.

Our lawyers:

  • Protect the U.S. Treasury against monetary claims such a tort cases, assure appropriate payments for meritorious claims, maximize monetary recovery for injury and damages to federal property and assert the federal government’s interest in defensive litigation
  • Recover money owed to the federal government as the result of fraud, loan and contract defaults, and unsatisfied judgments and combat health care fraud through the  vigorous implementation of civil remedies provided by the False Claims Act.
  • Ensure the government’s interests are fully protected in bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Condemn land for federal projects.
  • Defend the United States in immigration matters,  challenges to federal programs,  policy initiatives and statutes, and enforce remedies for violations of statutory-based federal programs.

Defensive Litigation

Our defensive litigation team handles cases brought against the United States and its employees. These cases include tort, employment, immigration, environmental claims and claims for federal benefits. We handle our own appeals. We also handle land condemnation matters for federal agencies, including the border fence litigation for the Department of Homeland Security.

Affirmative Civil Enforcement

Affirmative Civil Enforcement AUSAs handle cases brought under the False Claims Act, drug diversion statutes, Fraud Injunction Statute and other laws designed to combat and punish corporations and individuals who defraud the government. The False Claims Act empowers private citizens with knowledge of fraud to present those claims to the U.S. If a judgment is entered in favor of the U.S. or the case is settled and monies are recovered by the U.S. and the State of Texas, the private citizen is entitled to share in any recovery.

Representative recoveries include:

A  health care fraud case of national importance against  Universal Health Services Inc. (UHS)’s affiliate, McAllen Medical Center - a hospital group based in McAllen, Texas, in which UHS paid the United States $27.5 million to settle claims based on alleged violations of the False Claims Act, the Anti-Kickback Statute and the Stark Law. This is the third largest Stark Law recovery ever and the largest recovery ever obtained by the SDTX. The significance of this settlement was discussed by Greg Andres, Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, in his testimony before Congress on March 4, 2010. This case has been an excellent example of the Department’s fraud prevention efforts.


United States ex rel. Pallares v. American Grocers and Samir Itani - The case settled late last year for $15 million.  The civil case concerned allegations, among others, that Itani bought expired or soon to expire food at deep discounts, and after it was shipped to his warehouse, had workers change the dates on the labels to make the food appear fresh and then sold the food to the military. 

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