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. Under close supervision by more senior AUSAs responsible for training, new AUSAs initially are assigned to a wide range of felony cases, handling guilty pleas, suppression motions, jury trials, sentencings, appeals, and probation violations.
The goal of the General Crimes Section is to develop well-trained AUSAs who can handle a wide range of court proceedings, with a focus on developing trial skills. During their tenure in the General Crimes Section, AUSAs also handle pre-indictment work on felony cases, including assisting investigating agents by preparing arrest warrants, search warrants, complaints, and grand jury subpoenas; appearing before Magistrate Judges on initial appearances of arrested defendants, bail hearings; and conducting grand jury proceedings in the cases for which they are responsible. With the assistance of more senior AUSAs, each case that reaches the indictment stage is carefully screened to ensure that there is sufficient evidence and that the case warrants federal prosecution.
Upon completion of their tenure in the General Crimes Section, AUSAs hired for the branch offices are transitioned to those offices, 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 in the Los Angeles Office are: Asset Forfeiture; Criminal Appeals; Public Corruption and Civil Rights; Major Frauds; International Narcotics, Money Laundering, & Racketeering Section; Environmental and Community Safety Crimes Section; and Violent and Organized Crime.
Melanie Sartoris was appointed Chief of the General Crimes Section in July 2021, after serving as a Deputy Chief since 2019. While previously in the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section in the National Security Division, she specialized in prosecuting domestic and international terrorism, espionage, and export control matters. Ms. Sartoris was a lead prosecutor in the investigation into the terrorist attack in 2015 at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California during which 14 people were killed, at least 22 people were injured, and countless others experienced trauma. It remains the largest mass murder in the history of the Central District of California. The response to the attack by the USAO and other law enforcement partners received the Anti-Defamation League’s Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate in 2016.
Ms. Sartoris received the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security in 2017 for her work on this investigation and the multiple resulting prosecutions. In 2019 she was on the trial team in a prosecution involving a conspiracy funded by a foreign government to obtain military-grade semiconductor chips with missile guidance applications from a company in the United States. The trial lasted approximately 6 weeks and resulted in guilty verdicts on all 18 counts. From 2015 to 2019, Ms. Sartoris served as a co-coordinator of the Office’s Export and Anti-proliferation Global Law Enforcement (“EAGLE”) Task Force and as one of the Office’s Export Enforcement Coordinators. Between state and federal court, she has tried over a dozen cases. She is a member of the Office’s Hiring Committee and Diversity Committee. She also serves as one of the Office’s Federal Women’s Special Emphasis Program Managers.
Prior to joining the Office in 2008, Ms. Sartoris worked at the downtown Los Angeles Office of Arnold & Porter, LLC, where her practice focused on complex civil litigation. She clerked for the Honorable Donald D. Alsop in the District of Minnesota, and was a legislative assistant to a United States Senator. Ms. Sartoris earned her J.D. from UCLA School of Law, where she served as Co-Editor-in-Chief of the UCLA Women’s Law Journal. She earned her B.A. in History from St. Olaf College.
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Section Contact Information
The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
Attn: General Crimes Section
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012