News and Press Releases

Four in U.S. Attorney’s Office Receive National Awards for Two-Year College System Prosecutions

December 9, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – Four members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama have been recognized nationally by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Director H. Marshall Jarrett for their work in the office’s successful prosecution of 17 individuals for corruption within Alabama’s two-year college system.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Martin and Tamarra Matthews-Johnson and paralegal specialists Cynthia Porter and Deborah Hamaker today received 2011 Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Director’s Awards for “Superior Performance as a Litigative Team.” The Northern District of Alabama team was among 163 recipients from U.S. Attorneys Offices nationwide recognized during the Department of Justice’s 28th annual EOUSA Director’s Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. The awards honor the recipients for their dedication to carrying out the mission of the Department of Justice.

In his prepared remarks at the ceremony held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building, Attorney General Holder told the awardees that they, “represent the very best that this Department has to offer” and that their “work embodies our ongoing commitment – not merely to win cases, but to do justice; to protect our fellow citizens; to empower the most vulnerable among us; and to uphold the rule of law.”

“Each day the members of the U.S. Attorneys’ community go to work for the citizens of this country with one goal in mind – to do everything they can to protect the rights of all Americans,” said EOUSA Director Jarrett. “I am continually humbled by their resiliency, dedication, and unparalleled work ethic to accomplish this noble mission. Today’s awardees exemplify what it truly means to be a patriot and it is an honor to recognize them for their extraordinary service.”

U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance praised Martin, Matthews-Johnson, Porter and Hamaker for the outstanding work they contributed to the three-year investigation of corruption within the Alabama Department of Post-Secondary Education. Through guilty pleas and several trials, 17 individuals, including the department’s chancellor, college presidents, state legislators and prominent business owners were convicted. The public officials and others who conspired to corrupt the functioning of state government were sentenced collectively to dozens of years in prison and ordered to pay restitution, fines and forfeiture amounts of more than $23 million, Vance said.

“This trial team is part of a larger task force of hard-working attorneys, agents and staff in the Northern District who did exemplary work in investigating, organizing and presenting evidence to charge and convict 17 people who were demanding or paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and misappropriating taxpayer money,” Vance said. “The commitment to investigate Alabama’s two-year college system and the high number of resulting prosecutions represents the Northern District’s long-term record, across many U.S. Attorneys, to prosecute public corruption. That is a commitment my office carries forward,” she said.

EOUSA provides oversight, general executive assistance and direction to the nation’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit






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