Thank you, Monty [Wilkinson], for that warm welcome – and for your outstanding leadership of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. I also want to thank Deputy Attorney General [Sally] Yates for her vital work and extraordinary partnership. I am grateful for the opportunity to join you for this important ceremony and to honor some of the remarkable public servants who help to advance this department’s most urgent priorities – both here in Washington and around the country.
I want to take a moment to welcome the proud family members, good friends and valued colleagues who share in the recognitions we are about to bestow. I know firsthand the sacrifices that you and your loved ones are often called on to make in order to support the critical work that we are celebrating and I want you to know how grateful I am for your help and your efforts in making those accomplishments possible.
As someone who has served twice as a U.S. Attorney, I understand the importance of the work performed by the women and men in this room and your partners across the country. Every day, you stand on the front lines of our efforts to serve the American people and to protect the values that make this country exceptional. You help guarantee the rights and privileges to which every American is entitled. In every district and every neighborhood, in every case and every instance, you wage this fight as fierce and committed advocates for the people in your communities.
Thanks to leaders in and beyond this room, your hard work has led to some extraordinary achievements. With the successful prosecution of hundreds of individuals accused of terrorism in Article III courts, you’ve helped us to make important strides in safeguarding our homeland while demonstrating that our federal courts are capable of handling cases that involve terrorism charges. Through your implementation of the Smart on Crime initiative, you have made our criminal justice system more efficient, more effective and more fair – particularly for communities that are too often overlooked and too frequently underserved. From civil rights, to voting rights, to LGBT equality, you have helped to widen the circle of opportunity for all Americans and helped move this country closer to realizing the aspirations of its founding ideals.
This year, I am proud to recognize 160 award recipients who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in the service of their mission and in the pursuit of justice. Our honorees include career executives and supervisors; Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys; appellate attorneys and law enforcement officials; administrators, paralegals and public affairs officers. Together, these groups and individuals have confronted some of our nation’s most intractable problems and complex issues, from Ponzi schemes and corrupt medical practitioners to health care fraud and cybercrimes. One team is being honored for their exceptional work in a serial rape and pornography case that spanned five years and involved more than 50 victims. Another team is being recognized for their prosecution of a corrupt public official that culminated in a life sentence on charges ranging from RICO to murder. And still another honoree will receive an award for his outstanding service in Indian Country – and particularly for his efforts to combat violence against women in tribal lands.
These individuals, and so many others, have faced daunting and sometimes dangerous challenges. They have dedicated their leadership and their expertise, their time and their energy, to the service of their mission. And they have remained devoted, at all times, to the high ideals and deeply-held values that animate our country and our cause.
Of course, as we celebrate the work of our friends and colleagues, I know we are also mindful of those who are no longer with us. In particular, today we think of Arlene Nolfi, who served most recently as a Legal Assistant and Victim Witness Specialist in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She is being honored today for her essential contributions to the successful prosecution of Kaboni Savage and the gang members he led in Philadelphia. Through a trial that lasted three months and involved over 100 government witnesses – many of whom were afraid to take part in the proceedings – Ms. Nolfi’s compassionate and steady guidance was integral to our success and the trial could not have reached its just conclusion without her. I know that she is sorely missed by all her friends and colleagues for her warmth and her courage; for her dedication and her joy. I want to recognize Ms. Nolfi’s daughter, Kellie Marshall, who will accept an award today on her mother’s behalf and I want to thank all of you for your shared commitment to the noble work that Arlene Nolfi loved and championed.
I know that this work is not easy. Particularly at a time of scarce resources, complex challenges and evolving threats, your job has, in many ways, never been more difficult. But it has also never been more important. And I want you to know that, as you go about your mission, you have my deepest gratitude, my enthusiastic partnership and my full support. I was privileged to stand with you as a United States Attorney. As Attorney General, I will continue to work alongside all of you as we seek to fulfill the promises of this country’s founding; to fight for the values that still drive it forward; and to strive, every day, to serve the cause of justice.
These are challenging times for all of us in public service. We seem to see an ever increasing disconnect between the communities we serve and the government we represent. But what I see, as I look around this room – are committed colleagues, passionate advocates and dedicated legal professionals. I see a belief in America and its ideals and a determination to make them real for every American. I see boundless enthusiasm and bright hope. I see the future, and all that we will accomplish together. I am proud to count you as partners and friends. And I look forward to the work we will do and the achievements we will celebrate in the days and months ahead.
Thank you, once again, for your outstanding work, your extraordinary dedication and your inspiring commitment to our highest ideals. On behalf of the entire Justice Department and the citizens we serve, I’d like to congratulate each of today’s honorees. Thank you for a job well done – and I urge you to keep up the terrific work.