Asset Forfeiture Section | Criminal Appeals Section | Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section | General Crimes Section | Major Frauds Section | Organized Crime and Drug Task Force Section | Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section | Riverside Branch Office | Santa Ana Branch Office |
Violent and Organized Crimes Section
The Criminal Division, based in Los Angeles with branch offices in Riverside and Santa Ana, is responsible for prosecuting federal criminal cases in the Central District of California. AUSAs in the Criminal Division advise federal law enforcement agents on criminal investigations, present criminal cases to the grand jury, try criminal cases before the United States District Court, and represent the United States in criminal appeals before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The criminal priorities of the USAO are reflected in the sections within the Division. Detailed descriptions of the work performed by each section within the Division can be found by proceeding to the Section page in this website.
AUSAs new to the Criminal Division, including those hired for the Riverside and Santa Ana branch offices, are initially assigned to the General Crimes section, where they receive training in the handling of federal criminal investigations and prosecutions. Upon completion of their tenure in the General Crimes Section, AUSAs hired for the branch offices are assigned there, and AUSAs remaining in Los Angeles are assigned to one of the Criminal Division’s senior sections. Assignments to the senior sections are based primarily on the USAO’s staffing needs at the time. The senior sections are: Asset Forfeiture; Criminal Appeals; Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes; Public Corruption and Civil Rights; Major Frauds; OCDETF; Public Integrity and Environmental Crimes; and Violent and Organized Crime.
All AUSAs, regardless of the section, have the opportunity to handle a variety of cases. A number of AUSAs have developed expertise that has led them to assume primary responsibility in the USAO for specific areas such as labor violations, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, prison crimes, violent crimes, public corruption, child pornography, copyright violations, environmental crimes, and civil rights violations. Many AUSAs have developed nationally-recognized expertise in particular areas.
Chief of Criminal Division
Lawrence Middleton is the Chief of the Criminal Division. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and a former United States Air Force JAG. He joined the United States Attorney’s Office in 1990, and was a Deputy Chief of the Training Section (later called General Crimes) from late 1994 to early 1996, before serving a one-year detail with the Department of Justice’s National Church Arson Task Force, investigating and prosecuting church fires in Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Alabama. AUSA Middleton also served as Deputy Chief and Chief of the Public Corruption and Government Fraud Section, and Special Counsel to the United States Attorney. He became Chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section in 2010.
AUSA Middleton has approximately 50 jury trials as an AUSA, and was one of the four prosecutors assigned to the federal “Rodney King” civil rights trial. He has supervised and prosecuted a number of civil rights cases as well as a variety of complex corruption and fraud cases, including cases involving mortgage loan fraud, defense contract procurement fraud, bribery and honest services fraud schemes involving U.S. public officials, and international fraud and bribery schemes involving violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In 1994, he received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service. He received a 2012 United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director’s Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement, a 2013 EOUSA Director’s Award for the prosecution of an ICE Assistant Special Agent in Charge and his wife for fraud and corruption, and a 2014 EOUSA Director’s Award for the prosecution of a Southern California street gang for civil rights violations.
Division Contact Information
Chief, Criminal Division
The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California Criminal Division
312 North Spring Street, 12th floor
Los Angeles, California 90012