Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Hosts the 63rd Annual Attorney General Awards Honoring Department Employees and Others For Their Service
For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch recognized 279 department employees for their distinguished public service today at the 63nd Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. Thirty-three other individuals outside of the department were also honored for their work. This annual ceremony recognizes individuals for their outstanding service and dedication to carrying out the missions of the Department of Justice. The department will also present one posthumous award in honor of Deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells for his exceptional heroism in the line of duty.
“The individuals being honored today stand out within a department that holds all of its employees and partners to an extremely high standard of excellence,” said Attorney General Lynch. “They have put in long hours, made immense sacrifices and, in some cases, placed themselves in harm’s way. They have taken on issues that once seemed intractable, and made progress on problems that once seemed impossible. And their outstanding work is an inspiration to public servants everywhere.”
The Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service is the department’s highest award for employee performance and this year’s award was presented to the team responsible for the thorough investigation of the Ferguson, Missouri, Police Department.
On Aug. 9, 2014, Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The shooting immediately drew worldwide scrutiny, spawned weeks of unrest that resulted in the declaration of a state of emergency in Ferguson and the mobilization of the National Guard, which threatened to devolve into large-scale civil unrest. Simultaneously, the case and aftermath spawned a national debate on the nature of the roles of race and class in policing. Immediately following the shooting, the department’s Civil Rights Division began criminal and civil investigations to uncover and analyze the facts surrounding the shooting and the broader practices of the Ferguson Police Department. These reports were widely read, were published in the most prominent news sources around the world and were received as credible by community members and law enforcement alike. The work of the recipients not only calmed the community, it set the framework for a groundbreaking project to improve police practices and police and community relations, while also reinforcing the credibility of the department by enforcing the civil rights of all Americans.
The recipients of the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service include, from the Office of the Attorney General, Counselor Benjamin C. Mizer, who is now the Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the department’s Civil Division; from the Office of the Associate Attorney General, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Molly J. Moran; from the Civil Rights Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mark J. Kappelhoff, Office of the Assistant Attorney General Senior Counsel Chiraag Bains, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Robert J. Moossy, Criminal Section Acting Chief Paige Fitzgerald, Criminal Section Deputy Chief Kristy L. Parker, Criminal Section Trial Attorney Fara T. Gold, Special Litigation Section Deputy Chief Christy E. Lopez, Special Litigation Section Trial Attorneys Charles W. Hart Jr. and Jude J. Volek and Special Litigation Section Equal Opportunity Specialist Earl H. Saunders; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Missouri, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cristian M. Stevens; from the FBI’s St. Louis Field Office, Special Agents Carolyn A. Cerone and Cynthia Dockery; and from the Office of Public Affairs, Public Affairs Specialist Dena W. Iverson.
The Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Heroism is given to recognize an extraordinary act of courage and voluntary risk of life during the performance of official duties.
The recipients of the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Heroism are, from the U.S. Marshals Service-Southern District of Mississippi, Deputy U.S. Marshal (DUSM) Josie Wells, and from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Washington, D.C., Field Division, Special Agent (SA) Mark T. Simala.
On March 10, 2015, the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS)-Middle District of Louisiana was involved in a significant incident in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, while attempting to arrest fugitive Jamie Croom during Operation Violence Reduction. Croom was wanted on two counts of first degree murder and violation of his federal supervised release. USMS personnel and Task Force Officers (TFO) responded to the Elm Grove Gardens Hotel in Baton Rouge in an attempt to arrest Croom. Dressed in tactical attire with clearly marked law enforcement insignias, the entry team knocked and announced their presence when opening the door. Law enforcement personnel proceeded into the room, at which time DUSM Wells was struck by gun fire initiated by Croom, who was hiding behind the hotel room door. Law enforcement personnel immediately returned fire at the threat, striking Croom and subsequently restraining him. Task force personnel immediately extracted DUSM Wells from the room to the parking lot and attempted to render first aid. DUSM Wells was placed in a TFO’s vehicle and transported to Lane Regional Medical Center in Zachary, Louisiana, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.
On Nov. 19, 2014, SA Simala came to the aid of John Robert Phillips after he was involved in a horrific vehicle accident. With complete disregard for his own personal safety, SA Simala was able to rescue an unconscious Phillips from his burning vehicle shortly before it became engulfed by flames. Had SA Simala not acted, Phillips undoubtedly would have perished inside his burning vehicle. During the incident, SA Simala suffered burns to his outer clothing, smoke inhalation and had several small and treatable glass cuts to his right hand. Meanwhile, Phillips is said to be doing well and recovering from a shattered pelvis and two broken legs.
The Edward H. Levi Award for Outstanding Professionalism and Exemplary Integrity is presented to pay tribute to the memory and achievements of former Attorney General Edward H. Levi, whose career as an attorney, law professor, dean and public servant exemplified these qualities in the best traditions of the department. This year’s award is presented to Charles E. Samuels Jr., Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Samuels is honored for his distinguished public service career. He began his career as a correctional officer and moved through the ranks before becoming the eighth director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Dec. 21, 2011. During his tenure as director, Samuels has significantly enhanced the operations of the largest agency in the department, thereby increasing public safety and reducing crime. He has refreshed the country’s largest corrections system, bringing a renewed emphasis to the department and administration priorities, such as the Smart on Crime Initiative, prisoner reentry, Children of Incarcerated Parents, evidence based approaches to programs, solid labor-management relations, transparency and ensuring the most efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Samuels has made great strides in aligning the work of the department with the Bureau of Prisons’ crime prevention mission through a variety of significant initiatives centered around enhancing safety of staff and inmates; increasing security and order inside federal prisons; increasing and improving inmate program offerings; realigning resources to increase efficiencies; increasing transparency with the public and stakeholders; enhancing labor-management relations; enhancing programs to strengthen bonds between incarcerated parents and their children; and expanding the use of sentence reduction mechanisms. Through continual direct communications with thousands of employees around the country, using web-based messages, videos and live teleconferences, he rallies staff around his message of making a positive difference in the lives of others.
The Mary C. Lawton Lifetime Service Award recognizes employees who have served at least 20 years in the department and have demonstrated high standards of excellence and dedication throughout their careers. This award is presented only in exceptional circumstances to those individuals of special merit and is not awarded to express general appreciation for tenure alone. This year’s Mary C. Lawton Lifetime Service Award is presented to Joyce R. Branda, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch.
During her distinguished 30-year career in the Civil Division, Branda has consistently made significant contributions to the department’s mission and its people, which led to her being selected in 2012 as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the highest ranking career manager in the Civil Division. Her exemplary management in that role has been reflected by her selection in September 2014 to serve as the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Division. Branda has demonstrated the highest standards of excellence and commitment throughout her career.
The William French Smith Award for Outstanding Contributions to Cooperative Law Enforcement is an honorary award granted to recognize state and local law enforcement officials who have made significant contributions to cooperative law enforcement endeavors.
This year’s award is presented to Brian Bailey, Danny Doyle and Joshua Mauney, Task Force Officers of the U.S. Marshals Service-Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force Investigative Operations Division.
This team assisted in an investigation that led to the successful arrest of Billy Lee Owens, a fugitive wanted on 22 outstanding warrants from five separate agencies. As evidenced by his criminal history and previous arrests, Owens was an infamous thief with a complete lack of regard for public safety in his attempts to evade capture. During the 48 hours prior to his capture, Owens led law enforcement officers on two vehicle pursuits, striking a dismounted task force officer with a stolen vehicle during one pursuit. On June 18, 2014, the recipients captured and arrested Owens.
The Attorney General’s Award for Meritorious Public Service is the top public service award granted by the department, and is designed to recognize the most significant contributions of citizens and organizations that have assisted the department in the accomplishment of its mission and objectives. One Meritorious Public Service award is presented this year to Michael Lieberman, Washington Counsel and Director at the Anti-Defamation League Civil Rights Policy Planning Center.
Lieberman is recognized for his significant contributions to the enactment and implementation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Prior to its enactment in 2009, Lieberman was a major contributor to the act’s development, both as policy counsel for the Anti-Defamation League and as the organizer and leader of the Hate Crimes Coalition, a working group of diverse non-governmental organizations (NGOs) representing communities across the nation. Through his leadership in the coalition, Lieberman worked collegially and constructively with the department and Congress to secure passage of an effective and potent hate crimes statute. Since its enactment in 2009, Lieberman has been an active and helpful community partner in the department’s implementation and enforcement of the act. He has worked with community groups and law enforcement across the nation to ensure that hate crimes are reported to law enforcement by working to build trust between community groups and local law enforcement through outreach and training events; expanding the Uniform Crime Report to collect hate crimes data on more religions; developing a law enforcement guide for identifying and reporting cases of hate crimes based on gender identity; providing active NGO participation in NGO/law enforcement joint hate crimes trainings across the nation; and filing amicus briefs in federal and state hate crimes cases on appeal that support the department’s legal positions on the act. Through these efforts and more, Lieberman has made significant contributions that assist the department in the accomplishment of its mission and objectives.
The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service is the Justice Department’s second-highest award for employee performance. The recipients of this award exemplify the highest commitment to the department’s mission. Twelve Distinguished Service Awards are presented this year to individuals or teams of people.
The first Distinguished Service Award is presented to members of the team responsible for successfully litigating to enjoin anti-steering rules maintained by credit card companies. This team is honored for its outstanding achievements in prevailing in one of the most significant and challenging cases the department’s Antitrust Division has litigated in decades. The Antitrust Division filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in October 2010 to enjoin anti-steering rules maintained by American Express, MasterCard and Visa that prevented merchants from encouraging consumers to use lower-cost forms of payment. Because merchants had no ability under the defendants’ rules to reward lower-cost credit card networks with increased transaction volume, the $50 billion in swipe fees that credit card networks collect from merchants each year were insulated from the forces of competition. The recipients negotiated successful settlements with Visa and MasterCard but continued to litigate against American Express until the case proceeded to a seven-week trial before Senior U.S. District Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of the Eastern District of New York in the summer of 2014. In February 2015, Judge Garaufis found, after a full rule-of-reason analysis, that American Express violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act. The team persuaded Judge Garaufis of American Express’s liability in spite of complex two-sided platform issues associated with the payments industry, American Express’s relatively low market share, and a determined defense by a well-financed defendant represented by lawyers from some of the country’s most prestigious litigation firms. Judge Garaufis complimented the parties for conducting the best trial he had ever presided. In addition to the significant benefits that the team’s success will bring to American consumers, it will also pay dividends for the division for many years as potential future defendants evaluate their risks of litigating against the Antitrust Division.
Award recipients include, from the Antitrust Division, Litigation III Section Chief David Kully, Litigation III Section Assistant Chief Ethan Glass, Litigation III Section Trial Attorneys Craig Conrath, Andrew Ewalt, Mark Hamer, Gregg Malawer, Bennett Matelson, John Read, Lisa Scanlon, Joseph Vardner and Rachel Zwolinski, Networks and Technology Section Trial Attorney Ihan Kim, Competition Policy Section Economists Jeffrey Lien and Diane Owen and Economic Litigation Section Economist Deborah Minehart.
The second team to receive the Distinguished Service Award receives the award for its extraordinary work and exceptional service in the Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act (FIRREA) investigation and litigation against Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services (S&P) for its issuance of fraudulently inflated ratings of Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (RMBS) and Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) in the run-up to the 2007 through 2008 financial crisis. The investigation and litigation, coordinated with related civil actions by 19 states and the District of Columbia, led to a record $1.375 billion settlement, half of which ($687.5 million) constitutes a penalty to be paid to the federal government, and is the largest penalty of its type ever paid by a credit rating agency. As part of the settlement, S&P admitted it ignored senior analysts within the company who complained it had given top ratings to financial products that were failing to perform as expected and it had declined to downgrade underperforming assets because it was worried that doing so would hurt the company’s business. While this strategy helped S&P avoid disappointing its clients, it did major harm to investors, including federally insured financial institutions that suffered losses exceeding $20 billion and to the larger economy, contributing to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The litigation and its resolution provided further proof that the department will vigorously pursue investigations and litigation, no matter how challenging, to address misconduct that contributed to the financial crisis.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California, Assistant U. S. Attorneys George S. Cardona and Anoiel Khorshid; from the Office of the Associate Attorney General, former Deputy Associate Attorney General Geoffrey T. Graber; from the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, Trial Attorneys James T. Nelson and Sondra L. Mills, Director Michael S. Blume and Investigator Michael A. Nash; from the Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch, Assistant Director Arthur R. Goldberg and Trial Attorneys Bradley Cohen and Jennie L. Kneedler; and from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Trial Attorney Thomas D. Zimpleman.
The third Distinguished Service Award is presented to the team responsible for their outstanding work organizing and leading a complicated and groundbreaking takedown operation that combined civil and criminal authorities to dismantle the notorious Gameover Zeus botnet and related to Cryptolocker, as well as the prosecution of Evgeniy Bogachev, a Russian national regarded as one of the most prolific cyber criminals in the world. The operation, which involved coordination among more than 10 countries and dozens of private sector partners, wrested control of a global botnet that had stolen approximately $100 million from U.S. and European businesses and consumers and dismantled the computer infrastructure of a “ransomware” scheme that netted millions from victims by locking them out of their files until they paid a ransom to the criminals. In connection with the takedown, a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh unsealed a 14-count indictment against Bogachev, charging him with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering in connection with his alleged role as an administrator of the Gameover Zeus botnet. Bogachev was also charged by criminal complaint in Omaha, Nebraska, with conspiracy to commit bank fraud related to his alleged involvement in the operation of a prior version of Gameover Zeus. Although Bogachev remains a fugitive, he is on the FBI’s Cyber Most Wanted List and in March 2015, the FBI announced a $3 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
Award recipients include, from the National Security Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Luke Dembosky; from the National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section Trial Attorney David Aaron; Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Trial Attorneys Ethan Arenson and William A. Hall Jr.; from the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs, Principal Deputy Director Mary D. Rodriguez and Associate Director (Europe and Central Asia) Jason E. Carter; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Pennsylvania, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael A. Comber and Shardul S. Desai; from the FBI’s Anchorage, Alaska, Field Office, Special Agent Elliott R. Peterson; from the FBI’s Omaha, Nebraska, Field Office Special Agents James K. Craig and Sara K. Stanley; and from the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office, Special Agent Steven J. Lampo.
The fourth team to be awarded the Distinguished Service Award is presented this award for its outstanding work on the successful long-term investigation and prosecution of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT). The ABT was a powerful, race-based Texas state-wide organization operating inside and outside state and federal prisons throughout Texas and the United States. ABT protected its criminal money-making enterprises, including narcotics trafficking, identity theft, counterfeiting and check fraud, through assault, murder and other acts of violence while enforcing violent internal discipline. In an investigation spanning six years and 17 separate indictments in five different federal districts, the recipients targeted the leadership and the most violent members and associates of the ABT. Their work culminated in the indictment and conviction of 73 ABT members and associates on charges ranging from racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, narcotics trafficking, assault in aid of racketeering, firearms offenses and obstruction of justice. This investigation and prosecution was exceedingly successful and the resulting convictions of every high ranking member of the ABT have effectively dismantled this violent criminal network. The collaborative work of the recipients in this long-term case is truly exceptional and worthy of this distinguished honor.
Award recipients include, from the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, Trial Attorney David N. Karpel; from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Houston Field Division, Senior Special Agent Richard J. Boehning, Special Agent Allen D. Darilek and Intelligence Research Specialist Donna S. Gray; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Texas, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy S. Braley; from the FBI’s Boston Field Office, Supervisory Special Agent William Scott O’Donnell; from the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Special Agent Keith W. Koncir; from the U.S. Marshals Service-Southern District of Texas, Deputy U.S. Marshal Justin J. Perusich; from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agents Steven D. Cavitt and Steven N. VanGeem and Task Force Officer Steven J. Lair; from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Office of the Inspector General, Criminal Investigator Joshua D. Lyons; from the Texas Department of Public Safety’s Criminal Investigations Division-Major Gang Unit, Special Agent Devin R. Gonzales; from the Montgomery County, Texas, Sherriff’s Office, Detective David J. Wells; and from the Texas Rangers Company “A”, Texas Ranger Brandon Bess.
The fifth Distinguished Service Award is awarded to the Blackwater team for its historic achievement in bringing to justice four Blackwater contractors assigned to a security team in Baghdad, who, without justification, fired a sniper rifle, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilians at Nisur Square, killing 14 and injuring at least 18 others on Sept. 16, 2007. The Nisur Square shooting was a watershed event for our nation’s involvement in Iraq and it presented a test as to whether the U.S. Criminal Justice System was capable of holding these American contractors accountable for their criminal acts overseas against foreign nationals. It took seven long years to obtain the guilty verdicts in the case, during which time the team overcame complex legal challenges, which included a dismissal of the entire case by the district court and a successful appeal, daunting problems of proof arising from a factual scenario that the defendants characterized as a “battlefield,” and the enormous logistical and victim-witness challenges of bringing more than 40 Iraqi witnesses to the United States to testify at a time when Iraq was undergoing a particularly intense period of turmoil. The team’s ability to overcome each of these monumental challenges is a testament to their tremendous skill and unwavering dedication. Ultimately, the jury’s guilty verdicts on virtually every charge represent a reaffirmation of the power of the rule of law.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jay I. Bratt, John Crabb Jr., Kenneth C. Kohl, Gregg A. Maisel, Jonathan M. Malis, T. Patrick Martin and David Mudd, and Victim Witness Program Specialist Yvonne Bryant; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of Virginia, Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher R. Kavanaugh; from the Criminal Division’s Appellate Section, Attorney Demetra Lambros; from the FBI’s Houston Field Office, Supervisory Special Agent Brian M. Rasmussen; from the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office, Special Agents Marc Daniel Hess, Jeremy David Moore, Thomas F. O’Connor and Katrice Stubbs; and from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, Deputy Chief Anthony Asuncion.
The sixth Distinguished Service Award is awarded to the multi-agency team responsible for their exemplary performance in the shutdown of the Silk Road website and the subsequent sale of bitcoins. The multi-agency effort to dismantle the Silk Road website was a landmark event in the department’s fight against cybercrime. These efforts brought the owner and operator to justice through a cutting-edge criminal investigation and subsequent trial and pioneered the first-ever government-sponsored sale of bitcoins. Silk Road was a sprawling, black market bazaar which operated on the “dark web” and required all transactions to be paid for in bitcoins, enabling its users to anonymously buy and sell illicit goods and services, including drugs, counterfeit IDs, computer hacking tools, pornography and weapons. The team, which was nominated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Marshals Service, led this extraordinary and groundbreaking effort by successfully navigating uncharted government territory and dismantling a notorious criminal enterprise of unprecedented scope and sophistication. The case not only serves as a model for others to follow in conducting complex cybercrime investigations, prosecutions and asset dispositions in the future, but it also demonstrates that law enforcement is capable of rising to the challenge in the growing shift of criminal activity on the Internet.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy Howard and Serrin Turner; from the FBI’s New York Field Office, Special Agent Vincent D. D’Agostino and Computer Scientist Thomas Kiernan; from the U.S. Marshals Service-Southern District of New York, Acting U.S. Marshal Eric B. Timberman; from the U.S. Marshals Service’s Office of General Counsel, Associate General Counsel Clifford R.R. Krieger; from the U.S. Marshals Service’s Asset Forfeiture Division, Assistant Program Manager Kyle T. Bateman; from the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Assistant Deputy Chief for Policy John W. Vardaman III and Attorney-Advisor Joseph F. Mignano; from the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Intelligence Analyst Catherine Diane Pelker; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Cohen Levin and Christine I. Magdo; from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Special Agent Jared Der-Yeghiayan; and from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Special Agent Gary L. Alford.
The seventh Distinguished Service Award is awarded to the state of Maryland’s Prison Corruption Task Force. In 2011, the state of Maryland established a Prison Corruption Task Force for state, local and federal officials to share intelligence about high levels of gang activity in state correctional facilities. Based on leads developed by the task force, federal agents and prosecutors used sophisticated investigative techniques to expose a widespread racketeering conspiracy in which leaders of Maryland’s most prominent criminal gang corrupted correctional officers and exerted influence while incarcerated in the Baltimore City Detention Center. The correctional officers smuggled contraband, drugs and cell phones into the facility and engaged in sexual relationships with gang members. Gang leaders generated large profits by selling drugs and extorting payments from non-gang-affiliated inmates. Using cell phones and electronic payment systems, gang leaders arranged to bribe correctional officers, purchase and sell drugs and transmit money outside the jail. As a result of evidence gathered through multiple wiretaps, surveillance and cooperating witnesses, the team successfully prosecuted 40 defendants, including 24 correctional officers. The team also worked closely with state correctional officials and other agencies to identify systemic weaknesses and develop effective reforms. The shocking facts detailed in the charging documents prompted the state legislature to step in with enhanced oversight. As a result of the case, correctional and law enforcement agencies developed new intelligence about prison corruption and a strategy about how to conduct criminal investigations behind bars.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Maryland, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ayn B. Ducao and Robert R. Harding and Legal Assistant Joanna B. Huber; from the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, John C. Hawkins; and from the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, Supervisory Special Agent Wendy L. Hassett, Special Agents Karen Robertson Franks, Erika Jensen, Jeffrey P. Kramer, David D. Lee and Sarah Lewis, Intelligence Analyst Jody E. Zaruba and Task Force Officers Michael R. Corcoran, Michael J. Baier and Lynn G. Grant.
The eighth Distinguished Service Award is awarded to Melinda B. Morgan, Director of the Finance Staff in the Justice Management Division (JMD).
Morgan is a department and federal government leader in financial management, as evidenced by the success she has achieved in saving taxpayer money, implementing complex financial systems and managing a large workforce during times of financial stress. She makes certain all of the department’s 40 components have the strongest financial management portfolio by ensuring that policies and priorities are not only communicated but implemented according to guidelines. Since 2004, Morgan has been instrumental in safeguarding the department’s clean audit opinions, including the last four years, with no significant deficiencies identified by the auditors at the consolidated level. This is known in financial circles as a “clean-clean” audit opinion and it is a mark of outstanding financial management achievement on behalf of the taxpayers. The department has maintained a clean audit opinion while major department organizations have transitioned to a new financial system that, to date, has reduced eight legacy systems to three. Measured by either the millions of dollars she has achieved in savings or by the improvements she has made in the department’s financial operations and support for our national security and law enforcement programs, Morgan stands out as one of the department’s key executives responsible for improved financial management in government.
The ninth Distinguished Service Award is presented to the team responsible for their outstanding work in the groundbreaking national security cyber case, United States v. Wang Dong, which involved charges against five members of the Chinese military for computer hacking, economic espionage and other offenses directed at six American victims in the U.S. nuclear power, metals and solar products industries. The investigation was extremely complex and involved extensive and close coordination over several years. Throughout the investigation, the team worked collaboratively and thought creatively, exploring all available options to marshal the proof available from different sources sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt who was responsible for the charged crimes. It is notable among other cyber investigations for the volume and complexity of technical information, stored in different systems, that the team developed new ways to analyze. The recipients’ exemplary efforts were a critical step forward in addressing the national security cyber threat. This award included recipients from the National Security Division, Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and the FBI.
The 10th Distinguished Service Award is awarded to the team responsible for its extraordinary work in United States v. Citigroup, which resulted in a landmark settlement of civil fraud claims with one of the architects of the nation’s financial crises, Citigroup Inc. Totaling $7 billion, the settlement included payment of a record $4 billion penalty under FIRREA, Citigroup’s agreement to provide $2.5 billion in consumer relief and Citigroup’s acknowledgment that it made misrepresentations to investors in residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS). The recipients conducted a sweeping, two-year investigation of Citigroup’s RMBS securitization practices, issuing nearly 50 subpoenas, reviewing over 25 million documents and taking testimony from over 30 witnesses.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Colorado, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lila M. Bateman, J. Chris Larson and Kevin T. Traskos and Financial Analyst Laura K. Keane; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard K. Hayes, Charles S. Kleinberg, Edward K. Newman and John Vagelatos; and from the Office of the Associate Attorney General, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Joshua I. Wilkenfeld.
The 11th Distinguished Service Award is awarded to the team for its work in the historic $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America for fraud in the origination and securitization of residential mortgages. In his January 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama called upon the Attorney General to create a priority taskforce aimed at bringing financial accountability to banking institutions for their role in the residential mortgage crisis and resulting economic downturn. Delivering on that promise, the recipients assembled and led teams to investigate the entire platform of RMBS offered for sale in 2006 through 2008 by Merrill Lynch, Bank of America and Countrywide. This team pursued extensive and detailed fact investigations, developed and adapted innovative legal theories under FIRREA and prepared comprehensive civil complaints seeking billions of dollars in penalties. In addition to resolving RMBS-related claims, the settlement also resolved claims by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices of the Eastern District of New York and the Southern District of New York related to faulty loan origination practices by Bank of America and Countrywide that resulted in misrepresentations about the quality of those loans to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration. The exhaustive efforts and perseverance of these teams advanced the core mission of the department by holding Bank of America accountable for its fraudulent conduct that contributed to the financial crisis, as well as providing substantial compensation for entities supported by American taxpayers and critical assistance to homeowners and neighborhoods impacted by the mortgage meltdown.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth M. Abell and Affirmative Civil Enforcement Auditor Emily J. Rosenthal; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of New York, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pierre G. Armand and Jaimie Nawaday; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of New Jersey, Assistant U.S. Attorneys David W. Feder and Leticia B. Vandehaar and Auditor Barbara Radey; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Evan J. Davis, Leon W. Weidman and Brent A. Whittlesey; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District of North Carolina, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark T. Odulio and Daniel S. Ryan; and from the Civil Division, Director of E-Discovery, FOIA and Records Allison C. Stanton.
The 12th Distinguished Service Award is awarded to the team responsible for the review of the U.S. government’s handling and sharing of information prior to the Boston Marathon bombings, identified areas where broader information sharing between agencies may have been required, or where broader information sharing in the future should be considered. The report made two recommendations: that the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) clarify Joint Terrorism Task Force alert procedures and that the FBI consider establishing a procedure for sharing threat information with state and local partners more proactively and uniformly. The FBI and DHS concurred with the recommendations and took immediate actions to implement them.
Award recipients include, from the department’s Office of the Inspector General, Investigative Counsels Jonathan A. Marks, Julie McConnell and Ann Marie Terzaken, Program Analyst Katherine Hazemey and Oversight and Review Division Paralegal Specialist Valencia E. Philyaw; from the DHS Office of Inspector General, Program Analyst Lindsay K. Clarke, Intelligence Officer Anthony D. Crawford, Lead Inspector Elizabeth A. Kingma, Inspector Megan T. Pardee and Analyst Brendan S. Bacon; from the Intelligence Community’s Office of Inspector General, Senior Auditor Catherine A. Cruz, Inspector William F. Rucker and Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Inspections William F. O’Neill; and from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Office of Inspector General, Audit Project Manager Mark A. Krulikowski, Auditors Matthew D. Seaman and Eric T. Tarnovsky and Attorney Renee Rocque Lee.
The Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service in Indian Country recognizes extraordinary efforts by department employees who demonstrate the department’s commitment to fighting crime in Indian Country. This year’s award is presented to, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tanisha R. Payne, Steven L. Tiscione and Amir H. Toossi and Paralegal Specialist Huda Abouchaer; and, from the DEA’s New York Division, Special Agent Francis G. O’Regan. This team is recognized for its outstanding achievements in connection with the seven-year investigation of drug trafficking through the Akwesasne Native American Reservation on the U.S. and Canada border. The investigation resulted in the arrest, prosecution and conviction of more than 100 members and associates of a massive international criminal syndicate responsible for smuggling more than 100,000 kilograms of marijuana, tens of thousands of ecstasy pills and hundreds of kilograms of cocaine through Native American reservations straddling the border between the United States and Canada. The investigation resulted in the complete dismantlement of the three largest smuggling networks on the Akwesasne, a designated high-intensity drug-trafficking area (HIDTA), with the leaders of all three organizations pleading guilty to continuing criminal enterprise charges and the conviction of Canadian drug kingpin Jimmy Cournoyer, leader of a Montreal-based criminal enterprise that worked directly with the Rizzuto Crime Family of the Montreal Mafia, the Hells Angels, the Bonanno Crime Family of La Cosa Nostra and the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico. These prosecutions stemmed the flow of a massive drug pipeline into the U.S. and drew national attention to the tremendous security risk posed by international drug cartels utilizing sovereign tribal lands to smuggle drugs and weapons across our northern border.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement recognizes outstanding professional achievements by law enforcement officers of the Department of Justice. This year’s award is presented to the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) Special Operations Group (SOG) played an essential role in the apprehension of Eric Frein, a fugitive wanted for the Sept. 12, 2014, ambush of the Pennsylvania State Police that killed Corporal Byron Dickson and critically wounded Trooper Alex Douglass. In support of the Pennsylvania State Police and with the assistance of hundreds of law enforcement officers, the SOG team apprehended Frein on Oct. 30, 2014, after an almost seven-week manhunt, the longest in Pennsylvania state history. The pursuit of Frein, a self-reported sniper with a myriad of outdoor survival and military tactical skills, required SOG deputies to deploy the full range of their tactical capabilities in rural operations and put themselves in the way of serious harm. SOG collaborated with other USMS units in its investigation, including the Investigative Operations Division, the Office of Strategic Technology and the Office of Emergency Management. Because of the perseverance, dedication, cooperation and bravery of the recipients during the long and difficult search, the SOG team was able to apprehend a dangerously armed suspect without incident.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Marshals Service, Middle District of Pennsylvania Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal James A. Nelson, Northern District of Georgia Criminal Investigator Travis D. Burdette, Tactical Operation Division Supervisory Criminal Investigators Scott C. Kimball and Scott M. Malkowski, Central District of California Criminal Investigator Markus R. Dale, District of Arizona Criminal Investigator Justin M. Davis, District of Columbia Criminal Investigator Scott R. Dmytryshyn, District of Minnesota Criminal Investigator Nathan T. Matthews, Eastern District of Kentucky Criminal Investigator Zachary P. Thompson, Western District of Kentucky Criminal Investigator John S. Schaaf, Eastern District of Michigan Criminal Investigator Joseph E. Godlewski, Middle District of Florida Criminal Investigator Mark J. Graham and Eastern District of Washington Criminal Investigator Julio A. Hernandez.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Management recognizes outstanding administrative or managerial achievements which have significantly improved operations or productivity, or reduced costs. This year’s award is presented to the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Program Management Office. Award recipients include, from OJP’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Associate Deputy Director Ruby F. Qazilbash, Senior Policy Advisor Thomas B. Talbot IV and Special Assistant Thurston L. Bryant; and from the OJP Office of General Counsel, Assistant General Counsels Peter M. Brien and Emily M. Gallas and Deputy General Counsel Charles T. Moses III.
The Office of Justice Programs Program Management Office’s assiduous and collaborative work has laid the foundation to promote sexual safety in confinement facilities across the country. This work most certainly represents a special service in the public interest which is over and above normal requirements, and of an outstanding and distinctive character in terms of improved operations, public understanding of the department’s mission, and accomplishments of one of the major goals of the department. At the end of the day, if it were not for the work of the Prison Rape Elimination Act Management Office during this time period, the department and the nation would be years away from improved conditions of confinement. This team thoughtfully developed a plan and implemented it, and now the office operates seamlessly as if it has been in operating for years. Taking a concept from “zero to one” is an extraordinary feat, especially in such a complicated area.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Information Technology recognizes outstanding achievements in applying information technology to improve operations and productivity, reduce or avoid costs, and solve problems. This year’s award is presented to the team responsible for implementing the department’s Unified Financial Management System.
Award recipients include, from JMD Finance Staff’s Unified Financial System Group, Deputy Director Christopher C. Alvarez, Assistant Director Mark C. Miller, Deputy Assistant Director Matthew J. Roper, Deputy Assistant Director for Production Jeffrey D. Pullen, Deputy Assistant Director for Migration and Integration Ping Oberst, Deputy Assistant Director for Infrastructure Marc Berlove, Testing Manager Tim D. Taylor, and Implementation Managers Jocelyn M. Harris and Arlene B. Helm; from JMD Finance Staff, Quality Control and Compliance Deputy Assistant Director Vu C. Truong; from JMD Service Delivery Staff, Unix Team Lead Jerome K. Milligan; and from the FBI’s Finance Division, Unit Chief Robert J. White Jr. and Management and Program Analyst Lowell Alden Williams.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions in protecting U.S. national security. Two Awards for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security are presented this year.
The first Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security is presented to the team who investigated and prosecuted two individuals and one company for economic espionage and theft of trade secrets for stealing valuable and sensitive U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). This marked the first-ever jury trial conviction under the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. The investigation uncovered a 20-year plan hatched by high-level PRC government officials to obtain E.l. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) trade secrets for the production of titanium dioxide (Ti02) and exploit its value through PRC state-owned enterprises. Ti02 is a commercially valuable white pigment that is used in a multitude of products including paint, plastic and food items. DuPont’s unique process for creating Ti02 also creates a rare intermediary compound that has military and aerospace uses, such as coatings for ballistic missiles. Transfer of these trade secrets to the PRC would have had an extremely negative impact on the United States’ $13 billion per year Ti02 industry. The defendants had obtained the trade secrets and were in the process of providing them to state-owned entities of the PRC when law enforcement intervened. After hard-fought litigation and a seven-week trial, the jury returned guilty verdicts on all counts.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of California, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter B. Axelrod, John H. Hemann and Candace Kelly and Visual Information Specialist Sutton A. Peirce; from the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, Supervisory Trial Attorney Richard S. Scott; from the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office, Supervisory Special Agent Kevin J. Phelan, Special Agents Bianca N. Betz, Cynthia Ho, Cecily Laine Rometo and Christopher J. White and Intelligence Analyst Nathan D. Francis; from the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Supervisory Special Agent Katherine E. Pattillo; and from the U.S. Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, Special Agent Justin E. Fletcher.
The second Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security is presented to the team responsible for the successful prosecution of United States v. Mohamed Osman Mohamud. The team’s exceptional diligence and expert handling of difficult litigation challenges led to a conviction and 30-year sentence for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. The defendant in this case sought to detonate a truck bomb at a public Christmas celebration in Portland, Oregon, in the hopes of murdering thousands of people. The case posed numerous unique challenges in handling classified and sensitive information and countering a defense claim of entrapment. The guilty verdict obtained in this case brought justice to a dangerous extremist and affirmed the department’s use of investigative sting techniques to detect and neutralize homegrown terrorists.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Oregon, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Pamela R. Holsinger, Ethan D. Knight and Jeffrey S. Sweet, Supervisory Litigative Support Specialist Susan E. Cooke, Litigation Support Specialist Rena R. Rallis and Paralegal Specialist Lori A. McBryde; from the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, Supervisory Trial Attorney Alexis L. Collins, Trial Attorney Jolie F. Zimmerman, and Legal Administrative Specialist Pamela J. Hall; from the National Security Division’s Office of Intelligence, Supervisory Attorney-Advisor Paul E. Ridge and Attorney-Advisor Bryan Chehock; from the National Security Division’s Office of Law and Policy, Attorney-Advisor Joseph F. Palmer; from the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, Supervisory Special Agent Jared J. Garth; from the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, Supervisory Special Agent Ryan Dwyer; from the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office, Supervisory Special Agent Elvis M. Chan; from the FBI’s Washington, D.C., Field Office, Special Agent Miltiadis Trousas; and from the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office, Special Agent Thomas M. Ford Jr.
The Attorney General’s Award for Equal Employment Opportunity is the department’s highest award for performance in support of the Equal Employment Opportunity program. One Equal Employment Opportunity Award is presented this year for outstanding leadership and performance in equal employment opportunity and diversity in the department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). Jeffrey Sands, Senior Attorney in ENRD, is presented this award for his leadership and tireless work to achieve equal employment opportunities for minority attorneys and law students in the ENRD’s workforce. In addition to performing his regularly assigned duties as a senior attorney, he has devoted countless hours and energy to promote equal employment opportunities through his work on the Environmental Enforcement Section (EES) Hiring Committee for Lateral Attorneys, the EES Legal Intern Hiring Committee, the ENRD Diversity and Career Development Committee and through the individual counseling he has provided to minority attorneys and law students who have been referred to him and whom he has met during outreach activities. Sands has done a great deal to advance equal employment opportunity for minority attorneys and law students, and his work in this area has been a great benefit to both the department and ENRD.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Legal Support recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of legal support to attorneys by paralegal specialists and other legal assistants.
In the Paralegal Category, this year’s Award for Excellence in Legal Support is presented to Milton E. Ramos, Paralegal Specialist in the FBI’s San Juan Division. Ramos’ initiative was evident when he reviewed the San Juan Division’s Legal Unit administrative tort claim procedures in order to assess its strengths and weaknesses. His experience allowed him to develop a more concise and effective process in order to obtain quicker reimbursements of government vehicle accident claims in which the FBI was not at fault. Ramos developed and implemented this process in concurrence with the San Juan Third Party Draft. As a result of this new process, he saved the FBI thousands of dollars. Additionally, Ramos utilized his professional experience and knowledge to organize and implement new procedures designed to fully comply with the annual requirements of the Ethics Program for the San Juan Division. The Office of Integrity and Compliance reviewed the new procedures and the inspectors highly praised Ramos’ dedication and effective work. They further indicated they would recommend some of Ramos’ innovative procedures as a best practice for other FBI offices. Another significant example of Ramos’ outstanding performance was his assistance to the Civil Division Torts Branch litigation team assigned to the litigation of Ortiz Lebron v. United States. Throughout the four year litigation process, Ramos’ expertise and support were crucial. His ability to coordinate informal interviews of FBI witnesses and their preparation for depositions and trial testimonies saved the litigation team time and effort. He actively assisted the litigation team with the review and signing of deposition transcripts of FBI witnesses, including Spanish-speaking Task Force Officers. Ramos saved the FBI time and money through his work and attention to detail.
In the Legal Support Category, this year’s Award for Excellence in Legal Support is presented to Beryl A. Robbins, Senior Legal Assistant Coordinator in the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Michigan. Robbins, a 30-year veteran of the Eastern District of Michigan, is presented this award for volunteering to undertake the position of Senior Legal Assistant Coordinator. She was selected for this role because of her expertise in the area and extraordinary professionalism and dedication. Robbins is now responsible for creating, updating and maintaining all forms used by the office in criminal case filings and training all legal assistants about proper case filing practices. She is also the office liaison to the Clerk of the District Court. As a result of her work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has seen a vast improvement in the quality and uniformity of its court filings, which has resulted in an almost negligible rate of errors and an equally impressive improvement in its working relationship with the courts.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Administrative Support recognizes outstanding performance in administrative or managerial support by an administrative employee or secretary.
In the Administrative Category, this year’s Award for Excellence in Administrative Support is presented to Michelle T. Stallings, Office Manager in the Criminal Division’s Office of the Assistant Attorney General. Stallings is presented this award for her sustained outstanding performance in the field of administrative support, and for her extraordinary achievements in revamping the Criminal Division Office of the Assistant Attorney General’s support structure. She has restructured the front office’s secretarial and paralegal support system, making major changes in a short amount of time. Additionally, she recruited top talent to the front office; designed and implemented new training programs and materials; and raised the standards of professionalism by encouraging each assistant to improve his or her skills and aim for top-notch work product, as well as provide good customer service. On her own initiative, Stallings reviewed existing policies and revised them as appropriate to improve and streamline operations. She performed analytical studies to measure the effectiveness and productivity of office workflow and she improved the flow of correspondence and memoranda through the use of internal databases and tracking systems. Stallings essentially transformed the operations of the front office, and raised the bar for quality and timeliness of work, professionalism and operating efficiency. Her work in the front office now serves as a model for standards to follow in the different sections within the Criminal Division.
In the Secretarial Category, this year’s Award for Excellence in Administrative Support is presented to Patricia M. Jones, Special Assistant to the Executive Officer in the National Security Division. Jones is presented this award for her dedication to the mission of the division’s Executive Office through her hard work and positive approach to all of her assigned tasks. She has provided exceptional service for the Executive Office, the Office of the Assistant Attorney General and other sections of the division. Her extraordinary customer service has proven to be invaluable when providing the complete range of administrative and logistical support services. Her integrity, initiative, diligence, knowledge and professionalism play a critical role to ensure success in supporting the national security mission.
The Claudia J. Flynn Award for Professional Responsibility recognizes a department attorney who has made significant contributions in the area of professional responsibility by successfully handling a sensitive and challenging professional responsibility issue in an exemplary fashion and/or leading efforts to ensure that department attorneys carry out their duties in accordance with the rules of professional conduct. This year’s award is presented to G. Bradley Weinsheimer, Deputy Counsel on Professional Responsibility in the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). Weinsheimer is presented this award for his tireless and dedicated efforts to ensure that the department’s attorneys and agents maintain and are held accountable to the highest standards of professional responsibility. As Deputy Counsel of OPR, Weinsheimer, through skillful and creative management, has enabled OPR to reduce its backlogged investigations and inquiries while producing thorough, well-reasoned reports of its investigations. He also ensured that the results of OPR’s inquiries and investigations were fully understood by the subjects of the investigations and the department’s components. With improved intake, assignment and management policies in OPR, inquiries and investigations do not remain pending as long as in the past and subjects receive more immediate and critical feedback assessing their professional responsibilities. Under Weinsheimer’s leadership, the department’s attorneys are better able to carry out their duties in accordance with the rules of professional conduct.
The Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Service in Freedom of Information Act Administration recognizes exceptional dedication and effort to the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). President Obama’s Open Government Directive and the Attorney General’s FOIA Guidelines prioritize the need for the government to incorporate information technology into FOIA processing when responding to requests for information. This year’s award is presented to Carmen L. Mallon, Chief of Staff in the Office of Information Policy (OIP). Mallon is presented this award for her exemplary and sustained role as a dedicated, highly-talented manager of a multi-faceted office with government-wide responsibilities. As OIP’s Chief of Staff, she provides strategic direction, guidance and support to three distinct teams of professionals charged with carrying out the statutory responsibilities of encouraging and overseeing compliance with FOIA. The department’s senior leadership offices also confidently rely upon Mallon to personally provide advice and assistance on record-disclosure issues. In carrying out these many responsibilities, Mallon has proven herself to be a truly outstanding federal manager, with unmatched dedication to her duties, excellent problem-solving skills, exceptional ability and outstanding subject-matter expertise. She is an industrious and skilled leader, whose talents and attributes are a continuous credit to both OIP and the department.
The Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention recognizes exceptional dedication and effort to prevent, investigate and prosecute fraud, white-collar crimes and official corruption. This team is presented this award for its work in the four-year investigation, Operation Sledgehammer (OS). Over the course of the four-year investigation, OS charged more than 100 perpetrators at the state and federal levels; influenced positive reformations to Florida’s personal injury protection (PIP) laws; and developed investigative best practices that have been shared nationwide with other law enforcement officers and private liaison partners. As a result of the investigation, OS dismantled 21 fraudulent treatment clinics operating in South Florida. The case also charged 105 perpetrators operating at all levels of the fraud scheme, to include staged accident participants, patient recruiters, money launderers, licensed medical staff, true owners and doctors. Seven of the most egregious chiropractors operating in Florida were charged federally, resulting in convictions and prison sentences for six of them; the seventh is an active fugitive. Three doctors and a patient recruiter proceeded with a federal jury trial in March and April 2014, and were found guilty of 104 of the 105 charged counts. The total federal prison time for those charged in the case exceeded 2,000 months and more than $92 million in restitution has been awarded to the victims. The investigation and prosecution of OS eliminated the fraud that was being perpetrated by direct targets of the investigation; however, the greater accomplishments of the case were its broad-based deterrent effect on others in South Florida and the influence it had on state legislation. One of the 49 victim insurance companies identified in the case reported a 61 percent decrease in PIP billings in Palm Beach County, Florida, between 2010 and 2014, representing a savings of over $21 million. Throughout the case, members of the investigative team provided input through the National Insurance Crime Bureau to assist with legislative changes based on the scheme characteristics uncovered during the investigation. Effective Jan. 1, 2013, the Florida legislature reformed PIP laws, making it more difficult for perpetrators to commit staged accident fraud.
Award recipients include, from the FBI’s Miami Field Office, Special Agents Shaun P. O’Neill, Craig B. Stallings, Roger M. Stevens, William Stewart and Frances Szczepanski and Administrative Specialist Luz Delgado; from the FBI’s Tampa, Florida, Division, Special Agent Jorge A. Rivera; from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida, Assistant U.S. Attorneys A. Marie Villafaña and Evelio J. Yera; from the Department of the Treasury’s Internal Revenue Service, Special Agent Pamela Martin; and from the National Insurance Crime Bureau, Supervisory Special Agent Fred Burkhardt and Special Agent Teresa Grimaldi.
The Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety recognizes outstanding achievement in the development and support of community partnerships designed to address public safety within a community. The award recognizes the significant contributions of citizens and organizations that have assisted the department in the accomplishment of these programs. This year’s Outstanding Contribution to Community Partnerships for Public Safety Award is presented to the team responsible for implementing the Collaborative Reform Initiative for Technical Assistance (CRI-TA) through the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).
In August 2014, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder directed the COPS Office CRI-TA team to assess and provide technical assistance in the communities surrounding Ferguson after the tragedy. With the theme “public safety is not just the absence of crime but the presence of justice,” the COPS Office has become a strong voice for collaborative reform and critical response for law enforcement agencies nationwide and the source for innovation in procedural justice for disenfranchised communities. Moreover, the COPS Office has reframed the conversation around social justice and community engagement with law enforcement. With the implementation of the CRI-TA in Las Vegas; Spokane, Washington; Philadelphia; St. Louis County, Missouri; Baltimore; and Fayetteville, North Carolina, law enforcement has a new tool to address its systemic challenges related to community trust. The outcome of the CRI-TA assessment process is a road map for reform in a report tied to technical assistance goals. As the training provider for the 60 agencies in St. Louis County, the St. Louis County Police Department is undergoing the collaborative reform process and the lessons learned will be incorporated into their police academy and transform policing for these communities experiencing such tension and mistrust of law enforcement practices. The COPS Office intends to use this process to facilitate significant law enforcement reform efforts in communities across the nation.
Award recipients include, from the COPS Office, Senior Advisor to the Director Katherine A. McQuay; Deputy Director of the Community Policing Advancement Directorate Robert E. Chapman; from the Research and Development Division, Assistant Director Matthew C. Scheider and Social Science Analyst Jessica A. Mansourian; from the Grant Operations Directorate, Deputy Director for Grant Operations Sandra R. Webb; and from the Partnerships and Technical Assistance Division, Supervisory Policy Analyst Helene Brody Bushwick, Senior Program Specialist Tawana V. Elliott, Policy Analyst Melissa E. Bradley and Collaborative Reform Specialist Billie Yrlas Coleman.
The Cubby Dorsey Award for Outstanding Contributions by a Wage Grade System Employee recognizes extraordinary performance and contributions by wage grade system employees, including laborers, mechanics and skilled craft workers. This year’s award is presented to Philip Stoick, Automotive Mechanic in the FBI’s Minneapolis Division. Stoick, in addition to his regular duties, has designed and built custom trunk vaults for sport utility vehicles (SUVs) within the FBI’s Minneapolis Division. Previously used custom trunk vaults were purchased at a cost of between $1,600 and $2,000 to the FBI. Conversely, the trunk vaults built by Stoick are completed with a cost of under $500 to the FBI. Due to the high cost of commercial trunk vaults, not all SUV vehicles had one installed. However, with the lower cost, now all FBI Minneapolis Division SUV vehicles are being outfitted with a custom vault that allows for the safe transportation of weapons while providing special agents with more storage space for investigative gear.
The Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions by a New Employee recognizes exceptional performance and notable accomplishments towards the department’s mission by an employee with less than five years of federal career service. This year’s award is presented to Nan Roberts Eitel, Associate General Counsel for Chapter 11 Practice in the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees’ Office of the General Counsel. Eitel is presented this award for her exceptional service in modernizing the U.S. Trustee Program’s (USTP) review of the compensation and expenses sought by attorneys in large Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases. In the time she has been with the program, Eitel has undertaken extensive study of professional compensation schemes both in and out of bankruptcy, engaged in extensive stakeholder review, drafted an innovative and workable set of industry guidelines and worked tirelessly to ensure their successful implementation. Her efforts have resulted in an approach to professional compensation that is grounded in modern bankruptcy practice, and that supports the USTP mission by enhancing public confidence in the integrity of the bankruptcy compensation process.
The John Marshall Awards are the department’s highest awards offered to attorneys for contributions and excellence in specialized areas of legal performance. Eleven awards in nine categories are presented this year.
The first John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation is presented to Assistant U.S. Attorneys from the Southern District of New York Justin Anderson, Douglas B. Bloom and Perry A. Carbone. This team is responsible for the successful prosecution of a group of New York state politicians for bribery and corruption, ranging from the highest ranks of state government, to the governing body of America’s largest city, to the highest officials of a local municipality. The team conducted a complex undercover operation that exposed the broad extent and brazen nature of corruption in New York state politics and led to the arrest and conviction of five political figures with one more awaiting trial. Three of those defendants, the former majority leader and president pro tempore of the New York State senate and acting lieutenant governor of New York, a New York City councilman and a leader of a New York City Republican party, heavily contested the charges and were convicted after hard-fought trials. The team’s work helped catalyze ongoing efforts at reform of New York state and local government.
The second John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation is presented to the team responsible for convicting serial killer and sexual predator Jorge Avila Torrez. As a result of the tireless efforts of investigators and prosecutors over the course of several years, Torrez was held accountable by a federal jury in April 2014 for the premeditated murders of three innocent victims and the abduction and sexually motivated assault of three survivors. Prosecutors charged Torrez with the capital murder of Amanda Jean Snell, a promising young petty officer in the U.S. Navy, who was found dead in her barracks near the Pentagon in July 2009. Although Snell’s death was not ruled a homicide by the medical examiner, a later re-examination of the evidence, including DNA analysis, proved that she was the victim of a sexually motivated assault and murder. The prosecution team proved that Torrez was also responsible for attacks on three young women in Arlington, Virginia, and the brutal murder of two young girls in Zion, Illinois, despite the fact that an innocent man stood accused of the Illinois killings for approximately five years. Following a lengthy trial involving the presentation of more than 60 witnesses and hundreds of exhibits, the defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to death.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Virginia, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jonathan L. Fahey and Michael E. Rich, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Heberle and Senior Litigation Counsel James L. Trump.
The John Marshall Award for Participation in Litigation is presented for this team’s outstanding work in negotiating the federal government’s first settlement involving student loans under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The lawsuit alleges that Sallie Mae Inc. (now known as Navient Solutions Inc.), SLM DE Corporation (now known as Navient DE Corporation) and Sallie Mae Bank (collectively Sallie Mae) failed to provide members of the military the 6 percent interest rate cap to which they were entitled in violation of the SCRA. The department’s settlement was the result of a joint effort with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Servicemember Affairs. It requires Sallie Mae to pay $60 million in compensation to over 60,000 service members and to streamline the process by which service members may obtain interest rate reductions in the future. Attorney General Holder announced this landmark settlement along with ED Secretary Arne Duncan, who announced ED’s plans to adopt new industry-wide streamlined procedures that will minimize administrative burdens on service members and allow more of them to obtain the SCRA benefits to which they are entitled.
Award recipients include, from the Civil Rights Division’s Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, Chief Steven H. Rosenbaum and Trial Attorneys Tanya I. Kirwan and Elizabeth A. Singer.
The first John Marshall Award for Support of Litigation is presented to this team for their exceptional performance in three trials under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act against members of La ONU, one of the largest and most violent drug trafficking organizations in Puerto Rico. The three trials focused on the drug trafficking activities and the numerous murders committed by the organization. La ONU’s quest to maintain and increase their power of the drug trade led them to commit some of the most brazen murders seen in Puerto Rico, which cost the lives of ordinary law-abiding citizens. Among the murders that the recipients proved during the trials was the downing of a police helicopter by a member of La ONU, who shot at the helicopter during flight with an AK-47 rifle, killing the co-pilot. The recipients also proved the murder of a police woman and a librarian who were driving to work when they were caught in the crossfire and killed during a shootout between members of La ONU and their main rival. In total, the team convicted seven defendants who were all sentenced to life in prison. The defendants who were convicted included La ONU’s leader and main enforcers. As a result of the convictions obtained in the three trials, La ONU was significantly weakened. Moreover, the conviction of the defendants involved in these murders brought peace to the citizens of Puerto Rico, as they would no longer be threatened by members of an organization whose brazenness put at risk the lives of law-abiding citizens.
Award recipients include, from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Puerto Rico, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Victor O. Acevedo-Hernandez and Jenifer Y. Hernandez-Vega.
The second John Marshall Award for Support of Litigation is presented to Richard Farber, Senior Appellate Counsel in the Tax Division’s Appellate Section. Farber is presented this award for his exceptional record of accomplishments in support of litigation of the most important tax cases that are presented to the federal courts of appeals. He has long been regarded as an appellate advocate of the highest caliber and for that reason he has, for many years, been asked to supervise the government’s appellate litigation in the most important and complex tax cases. Over the past two years alone, his astute supervision of the government’s litigating strategy has saved more than $1 billion in revenue. Moreover, Farber has made major contributions to the Tax Division’s mission of protecting the public fisc.
The first John Marshall Award for Handling of Appeals is presented to Vijay Shanker, Deputy Chief in the Criminal Division’s Appellate Section. Shanker is presented this award for his superlative skill in appellate advocacy. Never flummoxed by a short deadline or a long dormant statute suddenly restored to life, he excels at solving puzzles and translating the solution into persuasive but crisp prose. Shanker routinely handles complex cases requiring meticulous analysis, thorough research and an orderly, scholarly and clear presentation. At oral argument, he knows that fist-pounding and hyperbole destroy credibility and that when representing the United States, earning the court’s trust and respect is critical. The soft-spoken Shanker earns that trust by anticipating the toughest questions and focusing on the key points needed to win. With superlative skill and integrity, he has secured dozens of appellate victories for the government, defending the convictions of violent carjackers and robbers, fraudsters and corrupt public officials, drug dealers, narcoterrorists and criminals who exploit children. He has also obtained several ground-breaking decisions on issues that lay at the intersection of forfeiture law, international relations and terrorism. Additionally, Shanker finds time to provide legal advice to department’s leadership and prosecutors on a variety of issues.
The second John Marshall Award for Handling of Appeals is presented to the Bay Mills Indian Community team for its outstanding win in a case by the state of Michigan that presented a direct, frontal-assault on the concept of tribal sovereign immunity from suit in the absence of Congressional authorization. Against a backdrop of bad facts in which to litigate this issue (apparently unlawful gaming by the tribe), the team presented cogent arguments as to why Congress had not authorized the kind of suit the state had brought and presented other clear avenues by which the state could obtain review of the legality of the tribe’s actions without necessitating a complete revision of tribal sovereign immunity concepts. Favorable decisions in the U.S. Supreme Court for Indian tribes have been quite scarce over the last decades. This decision was a shining star, achieved because of the team’s stellar work.
Award recipients include, from the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the Office of the Assistant Attorney General-Senior Counsel for Indian Affairs Gina L. Allery, Indian Resources Section Deputy Chief John H. Turner Jr., and Appellate Section Assistant Chief William B. Lazarus and Attorney Mary Gabrielle Sprague; from the Office of the Solicitor General, Deputy Solicitor General Edwin S. Kneedler and Assistant to the Solicitor General Ann E. O’Connell.
The first John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice is presented to the team responsible for guiding the department to its new position regarding Title VII and gender identity. In December 2014, Attorney General Holder announced that it is now the view of the department that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination reaches discrimination due to gender identity, gender transition and transgender status. This announcement was the culmination of many years of not only legal analysis and internal discussion, but also outreach to stakeholders within the government and beyond. Transgender individuals are among the most marginalized in our society, and thus they are sorely in need of the protections of federal antidiscrimination law. Consequently, the significance of the department’s change in position cannot be overstated.
Award recipients include, from the Civil Rights Division, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gregory B. Friel and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan, and from the division’s Appellate Section, Chief Diana K. Flynn, Deputy Chief Sharon M. McGowan, Special Litigation Counsel Tovah R. Calderon and Trial Attorney Holly Thomas.
The second John Marshall Award for Providing Legal Advice is presented to the Justice Management Division’s (JMD) Office of General Counsel (OGC) for providing exceptional, soundly reasoned and well researched legal advice to JMD staff and senior departmental and component leadership across the department. Much of OGC’s work is often behind-the-scenes, providing crucial support and confidence to leadership and components in the performance of their missions. OGC’s contributions to the department’s nuts-and-bolts management issues, addressing all aspects of matters covering appropriations, personnel and appointments of officers, procurement, grant management, security, property management and department-wide directives are essential to the continued sound functioning of the department and effectuation of important policies and initiatives. Additionally, through its effective coalitions with other federal agencies and interagency legal working groups, OGC is recognized and called upon by other agency general counsels and interagency legal working groups to provide invaluable assistance.
Award recipients include, from JMD’s OGC, General Counsel Arthur E. Gary, Deputy General Counsel Barbara A. Bush, Assistant General Counsels John R. Caterini, Kristen Bucher Hahn, Barry C. Hansen, Pamela J. Jadwin, Morton J. Posner, Evelyn S. Tang and John E. Thompson and Staff Assistant Michelle M. Allen.
This year’s John Marshall Award for Alternative Dispute Resolution is presented to Daniel Tenny, Trial Attorney in the Civil Division’s Appellate Section. Tenny is presented this award for achieving a groundbreaking settlement of much publicized litigation that was closely followed by veterans groups and members of Congress. In Valentini v. McDonald, homeless veterans claimed, and the district court found, that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was improperly allowing land at its West Los Angeles Campus to be used for commercial purposes. Tenny’s intensive efforts over more than a year were central to the settlement, in which Tenny worked directly with the VA Secretary and disentangled the legal issues posed by the litigation from the substantive and policy issues on which the parties agreed. The settlement has been lauded by commentators who had previously been critical of VA’s operations in West Los Angeles as a new beginning and an opportunity to achieve significant policy objectives that would have been impossible if the parties had continued in an adversarial fashion. The parties have already begun working together on new homelessness plans and on a process for making better use of the West Los Angeles campus, outside the context of any adversarial litigation. Tenny achieved far more than could have been accomplished by success in the litigation and his work exemplifies the means by which the adversarial process can be transformed into a constructive endeavor.
This year’s John Marshall Award for Interagency Cooperation is presented to Dustin F. Minor, Hazardous Waste Branch Chief in the Office of Regional Counsel – Region 9 of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Minor has demonstrated extraordinary cooperation with ENRD’s Environmental Enforcement and Environmental Defense Sections in connection with its joint efforts to pursue parties responsible for the contamination of over 500 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation lands. These abandoned mines have contaminated land near Navajo homes, roads, grazing lands and cultural areas, resulting in one of the most severe environmental justice problems in Indian Country. Minor played an important role supporting the Environmental Defense Section in its ground-breaking work to craft a settlement with the Navajo Nation that will lead to the important response measures to address the uranium contamination resulting from mining on Navajo lands. He has also played an essential role in the work of a combined EPA/department team to litigate against responsible private parties and to foster outreach to the Navajo Nation. Minor played an equally central role helping litigate and settle consolidated Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act actions in connection with a 160-acre contaminated Superfund site in Rialto, California, litigation that was unusually challenging due to its extensive discovery and contentious disputes over its 10-year history. Ultimately, five separate consent decrees were entered, which together will result in the cleanup of the entire site at a cost of approximately $100 million. Minor played an important role in finding creative solutions that enabled both EPA and the U.S. Department of Defense to settle on terms that were appropriate to each agency.
Updated October 27, 2015
Press Release Number: 15-1295