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External Affairs Blog

External Affairs Blog

Monday, June 4, 2018
Project LEAD

The Office had the honor of participating in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Project LEAD program again this year.  Project LEAD (Legal Enrichment and Decision Making) is a school-based program that teaches 5th grade students about the criminal justice system and helps them understand that the choices they make today may affect their lives forever.

Coordinated this year by AUSAs Reema El-Amamy and Amanda Bettinelli, the program sent over 25 AUSAs to volunteer an hour a week in Lorena Street Elementary School and Gratts Learning Academy classrooms acting as role models to teach the students about their professional backgrounds, law-related concepts and the benefits of making good life choices. Volunteers included AUSAs Jeff Mitchell, Joe Woodring, Scott Paetty, Melanie Sartoris, Carol Chen, Roger Hsieh, Karen Escalante, Joe Axelrad, Allison Westfahl-Kong, Dennis Mitchell, Lindsey Dotson, Alex Wyman, Eddie Jauregui, Jill Feeney, Sheila Nagaraj, Monica Tait, Robyn Bacon, Chris Kendall, Bryant Yang, Alexander Schwab, Ellen Lansden, Aron Ketchel, Shaurish Appleby-Bhattacharjee and Poonam Kumar.

Project LEAD

The semester culminated on June 1, 2018, with a mock trial in the United States Courthouse in which the students’ role played as trial participants. The trial this year involved issues of bullying and possession of a gun. In the scenario, a student who was being bullied was found to have a firearm and bullets in a backpack.  The student claimed that he/she did not know that the gun was in his/her backpack, and that it was put in there by a gang member cousin who had borrowed the backpack the day before. Judge Gutierrez and Judge Marshall presided over the two mock trials.

Following the trial, the students were treated to a pizza party and heard from speakers including United States Attorney Hanna, DEA and ATF special agents, and several LAPD officers. 

USA Hanna at Project LEAD

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, May 18, 2018

This year on May 18, 2018, the office celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with a lunch event and an interesting panel discussion with three distinguished speakers, Magistrate Judge Shashi Kewalramani of the U.S. District Court, Judge Rupa Goswami and Judge Rob Villeza of the Los Angeles Superior Court.

2018 Asian-American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

Coordinated by AUSA Puneet Kakkar - the office’s Asian American Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program Manager, and co-chairs First Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison and AUSA Reema El-Amamy, the theme for this year’s commemoration was “Unite Our Vision by Working Together.” This theme is crucial to not only our celebration of the heritage and contributions of Asian Americans but for us as individual members of society and as public servants providing vital service to our national interest.

The Central District of California has one of the largest Asian-American and Pacific Islander constituencies in the country.  Our office is proud to serve these communities, and is proud that our talented staff and AUSAs reflect this diversity.

AUSA Puneet Kakkar - the office’s Asian American Pacific Islander Special Emphasis Program Manager

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Valor Banner

As part of an ongoing effort to provide training for our local law enforcement partners in the district, the office partnered with the Bureau of Justice Assistance to host the second in a series of Survive & Thrive trainings. On May 8th and 9th, the office provided training to nearly 100 law enforcement officers from around the district. The event, co-hosted by the Glendora Police Department, is an effort to improve the immediate and long-term safety, wellness, and resilience of law enforcement officers. Through a multifaceted approach that includes delivering training, developing and providing resources, and establishing partnerships that benefit law enforcement officers, the VALOR Initiative seeks to provide our nation's law enforcement officers with innovative, useful, and valuable resources.

VALOR Survive and Thrive Training

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, May 3, 2018

National Police Week was May 13 – 19 this year. During that week and throughout the month of May, the office engaged in a host of activities to support and honor our law enforcement partners.

LAPD Memorial Ceremony Banner
2018 Police Week

To begin the commemoration in honor of our law enforcement partners, on April 23rd, working in partnership with our local ATF and USMS Office, U.S. Attorney Hanna and office staff participated in tactical entry, shoot, no-shoot scenario training. The training enabled personnel to become more aware of the types of scenarios officers and agents face every day. Moreover, it allowed an opportunity for senior leadership to better understand the training needs of law enforcement within our district.

U.S. Attorney Hanna at the annual Los Angeles Police Department Memorial Service

On May 3rd, U.S. Attorney Hanna and office staff participated in the annual Los Angeles Police Department Memorial Service to honor fallen officers killed in the line of duty.

USA Hanna & Aron Ketchel at VALOR

On May 8th, U.S. Attorney Hanna attended the FBI’s Fallen Agent Memorial Service to honor fallen agents. On May 8th and 9th, the office hosted a BJA-sponsored VALOR Survive & Thrive Training for over 100 law enforcement officers from throughout the Central District. The training was cohosted by the Glendora Police Department and the Western States Information Network. AUSA Aron Ketchel gave welcoming remarks.

U.S. Attorney Hanna at the International Latino Gang Investigators Conference in Ontario

On May 10th, U.S. Attorney Hanna highlighted our district’s violent-crime strategy and opportunities for increased collaboration at the International Latino Gang Investigators Conference in Ontario. U.S. Attorney Hanna also provided opening remarks at the California Narcotics Officers’ Association’s annual dinner that evening.

On May 11th, U.S. Attorney Hanna and office personnel celebrated those who have chosen to serve the public at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Recruit Graduation. On May 23rd, U.S. Attorney Hanna attended the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Memorial honoring deputies killed in the line of duty.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Saturday, April 28, 2018
DEA National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

The office participated in this year’s DEA National Prescription Drug Take back day on April 28th, during which the DEA in Los Angeles collected over 32,000 pounds of unwanted prescription drugs! That’s 32,000 pounds of drugs that won’t end up in the hands of children, drug traffickers, or in our water supply. The National Prescription Drug Take Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse and medications.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Denim Day

 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

The office proudly participated in Denim Day this year on April 25th. For the past 18 years, the Denim Day campaign has been one of the national hallmarks of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each April, our office along with community members, businesses, students and government

Supporting Denim Day

officials makes a social statement by wearing jeans as a visible sign of support for the victims of sexual violence.

Front Office supporting Denim Day

According to denimdayinfo.org, a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court in the 1990s originally triggered the campaign when it overturned a rape conviction because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work.

This call to action motivated the California Senate and Assembly and Denim Day in California was born. Over the years, Denim Day has helped raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault, as well as methods for preventing violence and resources available to victims. Last year, estimates are that well over a million people across the United States participated in Denim Day.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, April 13, 2018
Operation School Bell

On April 13, 2018, the Office participated in an Operation School Bell outreach program this school year with the Assistance League of Los Angeles, LAPD Southeast Division, the Los Angeles Unified School District and Operation School Bell volunteers. U. S. Attorney Nick Hanna along with First Assistant USA Tracy Wilkison, Executive Assistant USA Stephanie Christensen, Chief of the Tax Division Tom Coker, Chief of the Civil Rights Section Joanna Hull, AUSA Lisa Feldman, Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb teaming with Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in South Los Angeles distributing new shoes, backpacks, school supplies, books, and school uniforms to the elementary school children, many of whom were homeless.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
United States Attorney Annual Victim Service Awards Ceremony
United States Attorney Annual Victim Service Awards Ceremony

On April 11, 2018, the office held its Annual Victim Service Awards ceremony to honor prosecutors and federal law enforcement personnel who consistently strive to provide a focused, victim-centered approach to supporting victims of crime and next of kin. Awardees this year were AUSAs Vanessa Baehr-Jones, Joey Blanch, Indira J. Cameron-Banks, Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky, Jennifer Y. Chou, Christopher C. Kendall, Jeff P. Mitchell and Sean D. Peterson. The ceremony was spearheaded by the Office’s Victim Witness Assistance section led by Supervisor Allison Stafford

and including Dolores Perez, Mark Villasenor, Clayesha McElwee, and Amybeth Lake.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
National Crime Victims' Rights Week Banner

In observance of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, On April 10, 2018, the Office hosted a presentation and resource fair to honor victims and survivors. The office, in partnership with Mount Saint Mary’s University, hosted a victim rights presentation and a resource fair with the goal of ensuring that every crime victim has access to services and support. The event honored victims and their advocates, and highlighted services available to victims of crime.

United States Attorney Nick Hanna at Resource Fair
AUSA Lana Morton-Owens, Human Trafficking Coordinator, at Resource Fair

United States Attorney Nick Hanna was joined at the event by AUSA Lana Morton-Owens, Human Trafficking Coordinator and representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Police Department, and non-profit victim support service organizations. The Pet Prescription Team made a presentation on how therapy dogs can provide vital support to crime victims. The speakers emphasized how law enforcement, mental-health professionals, community-based organizations and local residents can work in tandem to support crime victims. The Resource Fair included representatives from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking; the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office, Crisis Response Team (CRT); Strength United; the YWCA of Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles LGBTQ Center.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Sunday, March 25, 2018
Women’s History Month

The USAO commemorated Women’s History Month in March with a fascinating discussion from the perspective of our female former U.S. Attorneys.

USA Hanna with former U.S. Attorneys

Our first female U.S. Attorney Andrea Ordin was joined by the Honorable Nora Manella, Debra Wong Yang and Eileen Decker. Unfortunately, the Honorable Lourdes Baird was ill and unable to attend. The informative panel was moderated by former Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura and covered a wide range of topics including how times have changed and the evolving role of women in the legal profession.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Tuesday, March 20, 2018
2018 CLAY Award Recepients

On March 20, 2018, AUSAs Liz Rhodes and Eddie Jauregui along with former AUSA Brandon Fox received the coveted 22nd Annual California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) Award for their stellar work in the successful United States v. Baca and the related LASD corruption prosecutions. 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Sunday, March 18, 2018

The CDCA once again participated in the annual Baker-to-Vegas run, fielding two teams in this year’s event. This year 52 staff and AUSAs participated and out of 275 teams, our fast squad took 81st place overall. And our 16:18:32 finish put us at 11th place in our 50-team division.

USAO Team Runs from Baker to Vegas in Annual Law Enforcement event
USAO Participants

Awesome!! Our fun squad took 47th place in our 50-team division. And, no penalties were incurred by any of our 40 runners or the follow vans. Running for team #231 were Terrence Mann, Carolyn Small, Nathan Nguyen, Rob Small, Erik Silber, Aliah Cadena, Erendida Calderon, Lawrence Leyden, Eric Chang, Sue Bai, Robyn Bacon, Kerry Quinn, Matthew Barragan, Ricardo Flores, Jennifer McCollough, Nellie Yu, Alessandra Serano, Ben Balding, Bryant Yang and Vicki Chou.   They were ably supported by Isa Ascencio, Stacey Fernandez, Tammy Loveland, Ashwin Janakiram, David Kim, Eva Ahuja and Sandy. Team #141 was made up of Joe Widman, Greg Scally, Mark Villasenor, Luis Alarcon, Veronica Alegria, Paul LeBlanc, Harrison York, Tim Biche, Ryan Crosswell, Catherine Ahn, Vib Mittal, Jehan Pernas, George Pence, Mark Pfizenmayer, Khaldoun Shobaki, Puneet Kakkar, Adrianna Ahumada, Jamie Lang, Jonathan  Galatzan and, last but certainly not least, office alum George Cardona. The team was supported by Chris Park, Liz Herrera, Shaton McDaniel, Rebecca Evans and Dominic Wells. Congratulations, CDCA B2V Teams!

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, March 15, 2018

On March 15th and 16th, First Assistant USA Tracy Wilkison and AUSAs Elisa Fernandez, Monica Tait, Erik Silber, Richard Park, Matthew Barragan, and Cathy Ostiller participated in the Constitutional Rights Foundation and Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Dialogues on Freedom event this year. This was a great opportunity for attorneys and judges to interact with nearly 3,000 high school students from 19 local high schools on a variety of timely topics including civil rights, judicial reform and constitutional issues.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
AUSA Speaks at USC Human Trafficking Event

AUSA Damaris Diaz was a guest panelist at a Human Trafficking event held at USC on February 21, 2018.

The evening featured a screening of a short film about human trafficking called “Lalo’s House” that tells the story of two sisters in Haiti who are abducted and thrown into an underground prostitution ring disguised as an orphanage. Following the film, panelists, including the screenwriter, the star of the film, a trafficking survivor and AUSA Diaz discussing outreach efforts to combat these crimes.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California held a roundtable discussion On February 13, 2018 at Mount Saint Mary’s University as part of a collaboration with the Justice Department Civil Rights Division to spread the word about options to help individuals experiencing sexual harassment within the seven districts that compose the Central District of California.

Sexual Harassment in Housing Banner

Organized by AUSA Joanna Hull, community organizations, such as legal services offices, fair housing organizations, shelters and transitional housing providers were in attendance and learned to identify the misconduct and recommend that individuals report sexual harassment to the Justice Department.

USAO Hosts Roundtable Discussion on Sexual Harassment in Housing with Local Community Groups

In 2017, the Justice Department recovered for harassment victims more than $1 million in damages. However, many instances of sexual harassment in housing continue to go unreported. Investigations frequently uncover sexual harassment that has been ongoing for years or decades and identify numerous victims who never reported the conduct to federal authorities.

The Justice Department encourages anyone who has experienced sexual harassment in housing, or knows someone who has, to contact the Civil Rights Division by calling (844) 380-6178 or emailing: fairhousing@usdoj.gov

The U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Act.

Sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, and others with power over housing often affects the most vulnerable populations – single parents, individuals who have financial difficulties, and people who have suffered sexual violence in their past. These individuals often do not know where to turn for help.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Human Trafficking Outreach
Human Trafficking Outreach

The Office continued our outreach on Human Trafficking and conducted a training on Human Trafficking Awareness for the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks staff. AUSA Lana Morton-Owens spoke to the attendees about human trafficking, ways to spot victims of human trafficking and what to do if they encounter a victim.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Wear Blue Banner

As part of National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, the Office participated in the Department of Homeland Security’s Wear Blue Day to show our solidarity with victims of human trafficking and raise awareness on the issue.

Wear Blue Day

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The 2nd Annual California Opioid Policy Summit was held in San Diego, California, hosted by the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of California.  Acting US Attorney Sandra R. Brown moderated a panel titled “Law Enforcement: Effective Use of Cutting Edge Analytics and Innovative Partnerships to Investigate Drug Diversion and Bad Actors.”  The panelists included AUSA Benjamin Barron as well as San Diego Deputy AUSA Mark Conover, and US Attorney Phil Talbert, from the Eastern District of California, who presented on tools and strategies in targeting corrupt pharmacies engaged in opioid diversion and related health care fraud.  The panel further addressed a range of other topics, including trends in the illicit sale of synthetic opioids and the DOJ’s recent creation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit.

 

California Opioid Policy Summit

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Five AUSAs, along with many law enforcement partners, were honored in Washington D.C. with the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security for being part of the federal team that responded to the San Bernardino terrorist attack.  Many AUSAs and staff in this office contributed significantly to the response.

The AUSAs receiving the Attorney General’s Award from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were: Patrick R. Fitzgerald, Chief of the National Security Division; Christopher D. Grigg, Chief of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section; Deirdre Z. Eliot of the Santa Ana Branch Office; Melanie A. Hanson, of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Jay H. Robinson of the Riverside Branch Office. Congratulations to all!

65th Annual Attorney General’s Awards

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

AUSAs and staff participated in the DEA’s 14th Prescription Take-Back Day – an opportunity to turn in unused or expired prescription medications for safe disposal. Law enforcement agencies and businesses around the district got involved at collection sites throughout the region.    

DEA National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

This event collected a record number of unused and potentially dangerous prescription drugs. In total, with the help of over 4,200 local and tribal law enforcement partners, a record-setting 912,305 pounds – that translates to 456 TONS of expired, unused and unwanted prescription drugs were collected from over 5,300 collection sites around the nation.

According to the DEA, the initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. Medicines that languish in home cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse and abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Helping people to dispose of potentially harmful prescription drugs is just one way the USAO and the DEA are working to reduce the addiction and overdose deaths plaguing this country due to opioid medications.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

IRS-CI held its Inaugural Awards ceremony to honor many AUSAs and staff who have contributed by outstanding assistance and support to the investigation and prosecution of IRS Criminal Investigation cases this past year and in recognition of the integrity, commitment, and outstanding service provided to IRS Criminal Investigation and the people of the United States of America

Special Agent in Charge R. Damon Rowe presented the awards to AUSA Monica Tait, AUSA Ranee Katzenstein, AUSA Robert Conte, AUSA Poonam Kumar, AUSA Charles Parker, AUSA Jennifer Weinhold, AUSA Damaris Diaz, AUSA Lindsey Dotson, AUSA Charles Pell, AUSA Ruth Pinkel, AUSA Benjamin Barron, AUSA James Hughes, AUSA Christopher Kendall, AUSA Valerie Makarewicz, AUSA Matthew O’Brien, AUSA Ryan Weinstein, DEA Diversion Investigator Kevin Buntrock, AUSA Chris Brunwin, AUSA Carol Chen, AUSA Vicki Chou, Paralegal Isa Ascencio, Paralegal Gemma Flores, Paralegal Judee Guzman, AUSA Steven Welk, Senior Paralegal Tina Keleshyan, AUSA Will Rollins, AUSA Ann Wolf, AUSA Vibhav Mattal, AUSA Joseph McNally, AUSA Paul Rochmes, AUSA Cassie Palmer, AUSA Kristen Williams, and AUSA Cathy Ostiller. Congratulations to all the worthy recipients from the Central District of California.

IRS – Criminal Investigations Inaugural Awards Ceremony

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Since 2013, USAO staff have assisted with home renovation projects for low-income and/or disabled individuals through Rebuilding Together.  Rebuilding Together is part of the 2017 Make a Difference Day.  AUSAs and staff, including Kim Meyer, Ashwin Janakiram, Jehan Pernas, and Andrea Caston spent a day helping paint the exterior of a mobile home for a Long Beach resident. 

Make a Difference Day - Rebuilding Together Project
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 15, 2017

As part of the office’s participation in Red Ribbon Week this year, AUSA Ben Barron spoke to elementary school students at St Andrew Elementary School about the dangers of drug use.  The theme of this year’s events was “Your Future is Key so Stay Drug Free.” Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon campaign has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction cause by drugs in America.

Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities.

Red Ribbon Week

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Office collaborated with the FBI, the Los Angeles City Attorney, ICAN, LAPD and other community and law enforcement organizations to host the 9th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium. The event presents a wide variety of cyber related topics to middle and high school students, parents and educators including Internet safety, child exploitation, cyber bullying, the implications of digital communication on teen health, digital reputation, navigating peer pressure, social media, sexting, and sextortion, among other topics.

This year’s Symposium featured a youth panel presentation on social media, a SnapChat geotag and a special surprise appearance during the lunch break by the celebrity stars of the Disney television show Bizaardvark. Participants from the Office include Cyber Task Force Co-Chairs AUSA Lisa Feldman and Tracy Webb along with Task Force member AUSA Jennie Wang and presenters AUSAs Anil Antony and David Kowal from the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes section.

 

9th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, November 2, 2017

In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the office sponsored a lunchtime event featuring a distinguished panel of bench officers who shared their experience and insight on a variety of issues including a discussion of the Mendez, et al v. Westminster School District of Orange County case that that challenged racial segregation in the school system in Orange County. The panel featured Former Ambassador Carlos Moreno, and former office alums Judge Peter A. Hernandez and Judge Yvette M. Palazuelos. AUSAs Reema El-Amamy and Elisa Fernandez, who also served as moderator of the interesting panel, planned the well-attended event.

 

Hispanic Heritage Event
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, November 2, 2017

AUSA Monica Tait and Victim Witness Assistant Amybeth Lake attended a Senior Fraud Forum along with experts on how to prevent senior fraud. The event was co-sponsored by our office along with the District Attorney, the U.S. Postal Inspector, LAPD, the Federal Trade Commission and community organizations. In addition to the presentations on how seniors can protect themselves from fraud the day held exhibits on fraud prevention. At the event, Amybeth Lake was presented with a Certificate of Recognition from the City of Los Angeles for her work with victims of fraud.

 

Senior Fraud Forum
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

AUSAs and office staff participated in National Coffee with a Cop day this year. Created by Hawthorne Police Department in 2011, Coffee with a Cop is an opportunity for police officers and residents to enjoy a cup of coffee, learn about each other, form bonds and build vital community relationships that help weave the fabric of a better community. AUSAs attended events in Vernon, LAUSD School Police in West LA, Inglewood and Rancho Santa Margarita.

National Coffee with a Cop Day    National Coffee with a Cop Day

National Coffee with a Cop Day    National Coffee with a Cop Day

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Office participated again this year in the Operation School Bell outreach program with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Acting U. S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown along with ASUAs Justin Rhoades, Chief of the Violent and Organized Crime Section, Executive Assistant United States Attorney Tracy Wilkison, Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb spent the morning at the YES Academy in South Los Angeles with officers from LAPD 77th Division distributing new shoes, backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms to the elementary school children.

Operation School Bell  Operation School Bell

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, September 29, 2017

In commemoration of LGBTQ Heritage Month, the office sponsored an interesting and compelling discussion of recent legal developments and the many challenges facing LGBTQ youth. We had the pleasure of hosting M. Currey Cook from Lambda Legal and LAPD Assistant Chief Bea Girmala for this lunchtime event, moderated by AUSA Susan DeWitt.

M. Currey Cook from Lambda Legal
Acting USA Sandra Brown
M. Currey Cook from Lambda Legal, LAPD Assistant Chief Bea Girmala, Acting USA Sandra Brown, and AUSA Susan DeWitt

 

AUSA Susan DeWitt

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, September 22, 2017

For the second year in a row, USAO AUSAs and staff attended the annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night at Dodger Stadium. This is the Dodgers opportunity to salute local, state and federal law enforcement personnel. Acting United States Attorney Sandra Brown was honored on the field along with LAPD Chief Beck, Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnel, CHP Chief Chris O’Quinn and others, including Duke the LASD explosives canine officer.

Acting USA Sandra Brown on Dodger Vision Screen
Rockies vs. Dodgers during Law Enforcement Appreciation Night
Law Enforcement Appreciation Night at Dodger Stadium
Acting USA Sandra Brown with LASD, LAPD, and CHP

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, September 22, 2017
16th Annual USAO Law Enforcement Awards

The 16th Annual USAO Law Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at LAPD Deaton Hall honoring the dedicated work of 280 of our law enforcement partners. Agents and law enforcement officers representing 26 federal agencies and 17 state and local departments were honored in this year’s ceremony.

LAPD Color Guard began the ceremony this year followed by a patriotic presentation by the LAPD Pipe and Drum Corps. Acting USA Sandra Brown and Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala gave welcoming remarks. Our congratulations to all the awardees.

Presentation of the Colors
LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Grimala
Law Enforcement Awards
Acting USA Sandra Brown

 

LAPD Awardees
Los Angeles Police Emerald Society Pipes and Drums

 

 

 

 

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
 25 Years Later

This month the Office recognized Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and hosted a panel discussion on “The L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later.” To commemorate the significant impact that the riots had on the AAPI community, the office hosted a panel discussion moderated by AUSA Puneet Kakkar. The distinguished panel included Professor Edward Chang from UC Riverside, who studied the impact of the riots on the AAPI community and Angela Oh, an attorney and activist who served as the spokesperson for the Korean American community during the L.A. riots and subsequently served as Special Counsel to the California Assembly Special Committee on the L.A. riots.

The discussion explored the impact that the riots and their aftermath had on the growing AAPI community and examined the role that history plays in shaping the AAPI community’s role in Los Angeles today. The well-attended event included delicious Chinese refreshments.

Many thanks go to AUSAs Diana Kwok and Puneet Kakkar for exemplary planning and perfect execution of the event.

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

AUSAs Reema El-Amamy, Ben Barron, Chris Kendall, Jamie Lang, Aron Ketchel, Alexander Schwab, Ryan White, and Joe Axelrad participated this year in the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Project LEAD. Project LEAD is a law-related education program established by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Prosecutors volunteer to teach 5th graders that the choices they make today can affect their lives forever.

Project LEAD

Since its inception in 1993, Project LEAD has touched the lives of tens of thousands of students in public schools throughout Los Angeles County. It also has been replicated in several other states and foreign countries. Project LEAD teaches students about our government, the criminal justice system, techniques for resolving conflict and resisting peer pressure. The lessons promote tolerance and respect for diversity, the role of education in achieving economic stability, the financial benefits of staying in school and acquaints students with basic household budgeting. The program concludes with students performing a mock trial, this year in Judge Gutierrez’s court, putting into practice what they have learned about the criminal justice system. This year the mock trial focused on gun possession and the AUSAs said the students did a remarkable job. The program ended with a pizza party and an opportunity for the kids to meet and ask questions of Acting USA Brown and a DEA agent.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
National Police Week
National Police Week Banner

May 14-20 this year marked 2017 National Police Week. In acknowledgement of Police Week, Acting USA Sandra Brown, along with LEC David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb, traveled to Ventura and Santa Barbara counties to participate in local ceremonies commemorating those who serve to make our communities safer, especially those who have sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. They attended the Ventura County Peace Officers Memorial event and the Santa Barbara Police Department Ceremonial Badge Pinning ceremony as well as meeting with the Ventura and Santa Barbara County Sheriffs and the Santa Barbara District Attorney.

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Denim Day 2017 Banner

The Office commemorated Denim Day this year in the Central District. For the past 18 years, the Denim Day campaign has been one of the national hallmarks of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Each April, our office along with community members, businesses, students and government officials makes a social statement by wearing jeans as a visible sign of support for the victims of sexual violence.

L.A. Denim Day 2017
Front Office Denim Day 2017

Historically, a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court originally triggered the campaign where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly and Denim Day was born.

L.A. Denim Day 2017
L.A. ​​Denim Day 2017

Over the years, Denim Day has helped raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault, as well as methods for preventing violence and resources available to victims. Last year, well over a million people across the United States participated in Denim Day. This year the USAO for the Central District did its part.

Riverside Denim Day 2017
​L.A. ​​Denim Day 2017

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This year the Office turned out in force to supported the LA County Bar Association’s Dialogues on Freedom program. Dialogues on Freedom engages high school students in lively debates on freedom, civil liberties and the American system of government in commemoration of Law Day in our country. United States Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy founded Dialogues on Freedom in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

US Constitution

The program partners judges with lawyers to facilitate discussions in High Schools throughout Los Angeles regarding broad topics relating to constitutional rights and privacy/civil rights issues. There are no right or wrong answers, the goal is to get students thinking about these important issues and engaging in critical analysis. The facilitators use situation-based scenarios that are relevant to the students’ daily lives at home and school to challenge them to examine and discuss their perspectives on the balance of personal freedom versus security from crime. They explore American civil values and traditions, and help students understand how the values and concepts of freedom, law, and justice make each of them individually "American." This year, over a dozen AUSAs participated in schools around the district including Jennifer Chou, Cathy Ostiller, Elisa Fernandez, Monica Tait, Veronica Alegria, Amanda Bettinelli, Jonathan Galatzan, Geoff Wilson, Karen Ruckert, Catherine Ahn, Susan DeWitt and Tim Laske.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Monday, May 1, 2017
Cyber Safety Presentation

As part of our ongoing community outreach in cyber safety, AUSA Lisa Feldman and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb conducted a series of cyber-crime presentations at two elementary schools in Compton. Coordinated by AUSA Susan Dewitt as part of the Violence Reduction Network (VRN) in Compton, Lisa and Tracy provided a dynamic presentation on digital reputation, Internet predators, cyber safety and digital citizenship to 4th through 7th graders.

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, April 7, 2017

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals celebrated Law Day 2017 in the Central District of California. Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown, along with AUSAs Susan DeWitt and Amanda Bettinelli, attended the event that included high school students from around the district and focused on the topic of “Not to be Forgotten - Legal Lessons of the Japanese Internment.”

Law Day

The event featured opening remarks by the Honorable Sandra R. Klein, a former Assistant United States Attorney in the Central Distict, nd a panel discussion moderated by the Honorable Jon R. Takasugi of the Los Angeles Superior Court. The panel featured the Honorable A. Wallace Tashima of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, Patricia Kinaga, managing partner at LTL Attorneys; and Gary Miyatake, a photographer who shared photos he had taken while interned at Manzanar.

After the informative panel discussion, participants engaged in lively and interesting discussions with the students on a wide variety of topics. Discussion topics included conversations about what judges and attorneys do within the justice system, the meaning of the phrase “Equal Justice for All” engraved on the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington D.C., and how the three branches of our U.S. government work.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Monday, April 3, 2017
National Crime Victims' Rights Week Banner

National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was commemorated this year with various events around the region. Sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime, the week is designed to raise awareness about victims of crime, victimization in the United States, specific types of crime and crime trends.

As part of this recognition, Acting United States Attorney Sandra Brown, along with AUSA and Chief of the National Security Division Patrick Fitzgerald, Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Victim Witness Specialist Allison Stafford attended the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Memorial event. Held at the San Bernardino County Government Center Rotunda, the day focused on victims of crime and served as a time to celebrate our nation’s progress in serving those victims.

San Bernardino Strong

Fighting for victims is important every day of the year, but this week offered an opportunity to raise awareness in support of victims’ rights and to show victims that we care about their losses and that we realize their pain is something that lasts an eternity. It also reminds us all why we seek justice for victims of crime.

The week was further commemorated in Los Angeles with the “Recognition Walk – Helping Victims Become Survivors” sponsored by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office – Bureau of Victim Services. Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons, Victim Specialist Allison Stafford and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb attending the event on behalf of the Office.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Tuesday, March 14, 2017
AUSA Awardees
United States Attorney's Office Awardees

The Anti-Defamation League awarded its 2017 Helene and Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate to the law enforcement team on the international terrorism investigation and prosecution in Orange County for United States v. Nader Elhuzayel and Muhanad Badawi. Assistant United States Attorneys Deirdre Eliot, Judith Heinz and Julius Nam along with paralegal Lee Paige were awarded the coveted award at the Above and Beyond Law Enforcement Awards ceremony. The award honors those law enforcement professionals who are so committed to their work that they make a significant difference in their communities and serve as role models for their departments. The team was recognized for their “relentless dedication to containing and minimizing the prevalence and severity of hate motivated behavior…. using innovative approaches to enforce or prosecute hate crime laws.” Congratulations to the team.

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Read Across America Banner
David Cons Reading to Children of Wadsworth Elementary School.
Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb

On March 2 the Office joined in the nationwide celebration of Read Across America. Law Enforcement Coordinator David Cons and Director of External Affairs Tracy Webb joined law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders to commemorate the 113th birthday of Dr. Seuss. David and Tracy read Dr. Seuss books to the children of Wadsworth Elementary School.

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Thursday, February 16, 2017
AUSA Joe Widman

On Thursday, February 16, the Federal Bar Association’s Inland Empire chapter recognized AUSA Joseph Widman as the outgoing president of the chapter. Congratulations to Joe on a job well-done.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, February 10, 2017
USA Eileen Decker

The Office celebrated African American History Month with a lunchtime discussion on Journeys to the Court. The panel discussion was moderated by United States Magistrate Judge Karen L. Stevenson. The inspiring panel featured:

  • Hon. Terry J. Hatter, Jr., United States District Judge for the Central District of California since 1979, who served as Chief Judge from 1998-2001 and who, prior to his appointment to the federal bench, served in a variety of roles, including, but not limited to, as an Assistant Public Defender, an Assistant United States Attorney, a law professor, and a Superior Court Judge;
  • Hon. Consuelo B. Marshall, United States District Judge for the Central District of California since 1980, who served as Chief Judge from 2001-2005, and who, prior to her appointment to the federal bench, served as a Deputy City Attorney, Municipal Court Judge, and a Superior Court Judge;
  • Justice Lamar W. Baker of the California Court of Appeal, who served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Central District of California from 2005-10 and who, prior to his appointment to the bench, held various positions with the Department of Justice, including as a legal advisor to President Obama, as well as Special Assistant and Associate Counsel to President Obama at the White House; and
  • Kiry K. Gray, who has served the Federal Court with distinction for more than 30 years, and, in 2015, became the first African-American woman to be named clerk of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, January 27, 2017
50 Years of Justice
TSA Choir

On Friday, January 27, the Office celebrated 50 years as the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California with a reception in the atrium lobby of the new United States Courthouse. Over 400 judges, law enforcement guests, Office alumni, and current Office members attended.

KNBC News anchor Colleen Williams

KNBC News anchor Colleen Williams served as the master of ceremonies for the event which honored former United States Attorneys (most of whom were in attendance), AUSA Steve Wolfe for his 32 years of service, and Elaine Wong for her 45 years of service to the United States. Steve and Elaine each received a certificate and letter signed by all of the former United States Attorneys in attendance. The TSA chorus performed, and a video retrospective of the past 50 years of the United States Attorney’s office was shown.

USAs Past and Present
Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Sunday, January 1, 2017

8th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium

8th Annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium

The United States Attorney’s Office co-hosted the eighth annual Cyber Crime Prevention Symposium for middle and high school students, teachers, administrators, and parents in November. This unique Symposium provides training and age appropriate workshops conducted by law enforcement and community experts on cyber safety, including child exploitation, cyber bullying, sexting, sextortion, malware and digital reputation. This year’s Symposium featured an exciting video welcome featuring US Attorney Decker along with FBI Assistant Director in Charge Deidre Fike, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer; District Attorney Jackie Lacey.; ICAN Executive Director Deanne Tilton Durfee, José Horacio Gómez, the Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell and Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck. In addition, Task Force partner Disney Television surprised the students with two stars from current Disney shows to share their stories on cyber safety and citizenship.

Law Enforcement Awards

Law Enforcement Awards

For the 15th year in a row, the office was honored to host the Law Enforcement Awards ceremony for the Central District in October. This is our annual opportunity to say thank you and pay tribute to the many men and women of law enforcement who are dedicated and work tirelessly on behalf of the United States of America. This year the ceremony honored 301 recipients and the ceremony featured opening songs by the Transportation Safety Administration chorus in honor of their service and the tremendous loss of TSA agent Gerardo Hernandez killed by the LAX shooter in 2013.

Cyber Security Summit

Cyber Security Summit

As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month in October, the office held a Cyber Security Summit in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the University of Southern California, the Lares Institute, and the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance. Top officials from utilities/critical infrastructure, local government, banking, the motion picture industry, the software industry, universities and law enforcement were in attendance at the Summit. The Summit offered information on new and developing cyber threats, preventing cyber-attacks, and recognizing and remediating attacks when they occur. Attendees also participated in “table top” exercises in which participants analyze a cyber-attack, reflected on preparedness, and discussed the benefits of sharing data with law enforcement.

The Summit featured expert speakers on cyber intrusions and included an FBI briefing on the current threats to inform them of the most recent types of cyber-attacks and defenses to those types of attacks.

The perspective of the business community was represented by executives from Ernst & Young, Target Corporation, IBM and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Cyber Security Summit

Hispanic Heritage Month

Hispanic Heritage Month

In late October, the Office commemorated National Hispanic Heritage Month. The Office hosted an all-star panel from the legal profession – United States District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez, Antonia Hernández, CEO of the California Community Foundation, Irma Rodríguez Moisa, Senior Partner at Atkinson, Anderson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, and Office alum Rod Castro-Silva, Senior Assistant County Counsel at the LA County Counsel.

USA Decker made the introductions, and Executive AUSA Wes Hsu moderated an interesting and informative panel discussion. The panelists each shared their experiences in the legal profession and encouraged audience members to contribute to their community. A large audience enjoyed Porto’s snacks at the lunch hour event.

Community Policing Week

Community Policing Week
Community Policing Week

As part of the Department of Justice’s commitment to building stronger relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, the Office participated in over 14 events in support of community policing efforts around the country.

Community policing is a public safety philosophy based on partnership and cooperation between law enforcement and the communities that they are sworn to protect. At the center of community policing is the idea that all members of the community, both officer and civilian, have a stake in the safety of their neighborhoods where they live and work.

Community Policing Week

In keeping with President Obama’s designation of the week of Oct. 2-8, 2016, as National Community Policing Week, the U.S. Attorney and many Assistant United States’ Attorneys participated in a wide variety of events in communities around the region. From community fairs and “coffee with a cop” events, to read alongs and training presentations, this week was an opportunity for members of the office to be out in the community around the district, building relationships and continuing to open dialogues.

National Community Policing Week builds on President Obama’s efforts to engage with law enforcement and other members of the community to implement key recommendations from the 21st Century Policing Task Force report.

Heroin and Opioid Awareness Campaign

Heroin and Opioid Awareness Campaign

As part of the Department of Justice program addressing the issue of Heroin and Opioid abuse, the office launched an awareness campaign to coordinating educational outreach efforts at colleges throughout the Central District. The programs will educate college students on prescription drug abuse, including explaining what opiate prescription drugs are, the dangers they pose, the particular dangers posed by drug counterfeiting, and what to do in the event of a potential overdose.

The FBI video “Chasing the Dragon” will be incorporated into the presentations to help illustrate the real life issues presented. The presentation will be supplemented with a panel presentation by a medical doctor, FBI and/or DEA Special Agents and a local law enforcement officer.

Mass Casualty Training

Mass Casualty Training

In September, the office hosted a day-long training to bring together first responders and experts to provide their insights on last year’s terrorist attack in San Bernardino and important lessons learned that can be applied to other large-scale incidents. With a focus on the San Bernardino terror attacks of December 2, 2015 as the primary case study, the training featured presentations on the incident response and discussions on better serving the victim population after a large-scale event. The event examined the lessons learned from the coordinated response by first responders, the variety of issues that the victims will face, the need for victim-support teams, and how the victim-support teams can be most effective in their unique roles.

National Night Out

National Night Out

National Night Out in August is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out has the goal of enhancing the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. This year, USA Decker and the External Affairs team spent the evening with the Pasadena Police Department. During the evening, Chief Sanchez hosted a tour of various Pasadena neighborhood events all designed to bolster the partnerships and good will between law enforcement and the community they serve.

Summer Night Lights

2016 marked the 5th year that the USAO-CAC staff participated in the City of Los Angeles Summer Night Lights (SNL) Program. SNL is a program sponsored by the City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction & Youth Development (GRYD) as part of the City of Los Angeles continued violence reduction efforts. The program is implemented across 32 Recreation & Parks sites in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley and provides a safe space for local youth and their families by providing free meals, arts and crafts activities, and organized sports for all to enjoy during the summer months. This year USAOCAC Staff volunteered at the Highland Park Recreation Center in Northeast Los Angeles and the Jim Gilliam Recreation Center in South Los Angeles. The USAOCAC volunteers assisted with nightly program activities including serving up Ice Cream sundaes for the community to enjoy.

LGBT Pride Month event

LGBT Pride Month event

The Central District of California Federal Family sponsored an event during the summer celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month with a brown bag lunch featuring Chief Judge Virginia A. Phillips. After an introduction by USA Decker, Judge Phillips spoke to the capacity crowd about her groundbreaking decision in Log Cabin Republicans v. United States et al., in which she held the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy to be unconstitutional.

 

Attorney General Visit to Los Angeles

Attorney General Visit to Los Angeles

In June, the Office planned and coordinated United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s last leg of her National Community Policing Tour. Specifically, her visit highlighted the recommendations set forth in the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing report – addressing the third pillar - Technology & Social Media. The two-day trip highlighted the advances and contributions by local law enforcement partners to this endeavor.

Attorney General Visit to Los Angeles

One of the hallmarks of Attorney General Lynch’s tour to Los Angeles was the implementation of a “Virtual Ride Along” (VRA) hosted in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The VRA allowed community members to utilize social media outlets Twitter and Facebook to witness in real time the Attorney General’s tour and interact with her via those social media platforms. The visit included touring the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Real Time Analysis & Critical Response Division (RACR) and viewing first-hand how the use of technology further provides situational awareness and deployment of law enforcement resources. The use of technology and social media is also being utilized to further strengthen community relations and provide real time updates to the community on varying issues. Over the course of two days, Attorney General Lynch met with local law enforcement partners, community members and local area youth to discuss police - community relations and efforts implemented to maintain and strengthen the ties between community and law enforcement. The tour concluded with a Facebook Live Event at the Los Angeles home of Facebook in Playa Vista hosted by Attorney General Lynch and actor Michael B. Jordan that further emphasized the use of various policing strategies and innovative resolutions to build mutual respect and coordination between law enforcement and members of the community.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month

Asian Pacific Heritage Month was celebrated in the Office on June 15th with a well-attended panel discussion on issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community sponsored by the USAO-CAC Diversity Committee. After an introduction by USA Eileen Decker, Executive AUSA Wes Hsu moderated an interesting panel discussion.

Asian Pacific Heritage Month

The panel featured Commander Blake Chow from LAPD, Manjusha Kulkarni, the immediate past Executive Director of the South Asian Network, Stewart Kwoh, President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Carol Lin from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The panel provided fascinating background on issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander Community from the law enforcement and community perspectives, and one of the many highlights of the discussion was Carol Lin making the point that AUSA’s are the “super heroes” for our community.

Law Day 2016

The Office participated in Law Day 2016, a commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona. AUSA Lawrence S. Middleton, Chief of the Criminal Division, was joined by Federal Public Defender Hilary Potashner to discuss the current impacts of Miranda on federal criminal cases. The event also featured remarks from Loyola Law School Professor and Office alum Laurie Levenson and Captain Carroll Cooley who investigated and arrested Ernesto Miranda.

National Rebuilding Day

National Rebuilding Day

Office staff Anne Gannon, Ashwin Janakirm, Monica Morales-Guzman, Shaton McDaniel and organizer Erik Silber participated in National Rebuilding Day by helping to paint a mobile home in Orange County for owners that could not accomplish it themselves. The sacrifice of these AUSAs and staff members’ personal time for this charitable cause is a testament to their amazing character and true dedication to public service.

Denim Day

National Denim Day

The office participated in Denim Day this year in support of victims of sexual assault. Since 1999, the Denim Day campaign has been one of the national hallmarks of Sexual Assault Awareness Month each April. It has helped raise awareness about the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault, as well as methods for preventing violence and resources available to victims. Denim Day was originally established 1999 when an Italian Supreme Court overturned a rape conviction because the victim wore tight jeans. The court concluded that the victim must have helped her attacker remove her jeans, from which they inferred consent. Within hours, the women of the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work, and later that year the first Denim Day event was organized. On Denim Day, those who wear denim stand united in support of survivors of sexual violence and wear jeans to underscore that this type of violence is unacceptable and should never be tolerated.

National Victim's Rights Week

The Office commemorated National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, a time to honor crime victims, the surviving families of homicide victims, and those who work directly to assist victims of crime. This year, the theme for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week was "Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.” The theme underscored the importance of early intervention and victim services in establishing trust with victims, which in turn begins to restore their hope for healing and recovery. In honor of crime victims, the Office participated in a special memorial at the San Bernardino County Government Center Rotunda organized by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office. The memorial featured the Redlands East Valley Choir. The singers performed in honor of the county’s fallen victims. During the memorial, the District Attorney’s Office presented the Award for Exemplary Service to Victims of Crime to Rose Madsen of Family and Friends of Murder Victims. A bagpipe tribute was held beside the bronze “Officer Down” statue in honor of San Bernardino County’s fallen officers.

Baker to Vegas

The United States Attorney’s Office ran in the Baker to Vegas Law Enforcement Relay Race and “mugged” (finishing in the top half of our division). Despite suffering an early injury to a runner, the office team finished ahead of teams from the FBI, LAPD, and LASD! Congratulations to Geoff Wilson, Nathan Nguyen, Terrence Mann, Brandon Fox, Collin Duffy, David Harris, Joe Widman, Stacey Fernandez, Billy Essayli, Steve Cazares, Rebecca Evans, Isa Ascencio, Vicki Chou, Vib Mittal, Garrett Coyle, Mark Solte, Puneet Kakkar, Luis Alarcon, Jamie Lang, Jonathan Galatzan, Beth Stratton, Chris Park, George Cardona, Aliah Cadena, Shaton McDaniel, Dominic Wells, Nellie Yu, Greg Scally, and Chris Ferrer for running, supporting the team, or both!

Anti-Defamation League Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combatting Hate

The Anti-Defamation League awarded its coveted Helene & Joseph Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate to the law enforcement entities who responded to the San Bernardino terrorist attack. The United States Attorney’s Office was one of the entities recognized with the award. More than 100 Assistant United States Attorneys and staff contributed to the response to San Bernardino.

Assistant United States Attorney Sworn in as President of the Federal Bar Association's Inland Empire Chapter

AUSA Joe Widman speaking at Federal Bar Association's Inland Empire chapter

On February 25, 2016, Assistant United States Attorney Joseph Widman, Chief of the Riverside Branch Office, was sworn in as the President of the Federal Bar Association's Inland Empire chapter. Congratulations to AUSA Widman, and best wishes for a productive and successful year.

African American Heritage Month

In partnership with the Federal Public Defender’s Office, the office held a special event to commemorate African American Heritage month in January. The lunchtime event was standing room only and featured inspirational words from the Honorable Otis D. Wright II, the Honorable Karen L. Stevens and former United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. Each offered their perspectives on how diversity in the legal profession affected their careers.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Saturday, October 24, 2015

On October 24, 2015, several members of the US Attorney's Office converged in Long Beach to participate in Make a Difference Day 2015. This remarkable group volunteered for Rebuilding Together Long Beach and, along with HOPE (Home Ownership for Personal Empowerment), the Surfrider Foundation and Long Beach Water Department, planted drought-tolerant and ocean-friendly landscaping at low-income housing in Long Beach.

Rebuilding Together Long Beach Volunteers

 

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Friday, September 25, 2015
Stairclimb Team

On September 25, 2015, volunteers from the U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in the  Annual YMCA Stair Climb in Los Angeles.  These intrepid athletes climbed 1,664 steps (75 stories) to support subsidized program participation for children, teens, families, and seniors in some of the most under-resourced neighborhoods in the City of Los Angeles.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Saturday Night Lights Community Engagement

The United States Attorney’s Office has partnered with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office to provide volunteer assistance to the City’s award- winning Summer Night Lights program, a nationally recognized anti-violence project sponsored by the City of Los Angeles’ Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD).   Summer Night Lights programs operate during the summer months in more than 30 parks and recreation centers throughout Los Angeles; keeping the neighborhood parks open late into the night as safe havens of activities for young people and their families.   In 2011, at the behest of the City, the United States Attorney’s Office “adopted” the Summer Night Lights site located at Jim Gilliam Park and Recreation Center in the Baldwin Village neighborhood of South Los Angeles.   Jim Gilliam Park was selected because South Los Angeles had a long history of high crime rates and gang violence and the Office volunteers wanted to make an impactful contribution to violence prevention in the neighborhood.

Dozens of lawyers and staff from the all over the Office volunteer at Jim Gilliam Park and work side-by side with GRYD staff, helping to run a variety of activities for local youth, including basketball games, a skateboard park, arts and crafts tables, and a popular face-painting station for little girls and boys.  Other volunteers work with GRYD staff to help cook and serve hundreds of meals for neighborhood residents during the course of a typical Summer Night Lights evening. 

Since 2013, the Office has also conducted a youth tennis clinic on the Jim Gilliam Park tennis courts.   Office volunteers run the clinic and have recruited a USTA certified teaching professional to lead the instruction.  Hundreds of boys and girls have participated in the clinics.  In 2015, the Office volunteers went even further and a group of federal prosecutors successfully petitioned the City of Los Angeles to resurface and refurbish the aging Jim Gilliam Park tennis courts.   The beautification of the Baldwin Village tennis courts is a permanent testament to the impact that engagement efforts can have on a local neighborhood.  

The results in the community have also been significant.   The City’s statistics indicate that crime rates in the Baldwin Village neighborhood typically drop during the Summer Night Lights program.   Beyond statistics, United States Attorney’s Office volunteers have reported that the park and neighborhood have become safer every year that they have volunteered in the community.   Perhaps most importantly, this outreach project provides an ongoing platform for community members and federal lawyers and staff to meet and engage outside the confines of a federal courtroom.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
Los Angeles Model

On February 18 and 19, 2015, President Barack Obama hosted the “White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism.” Senior administration officials, including Attorney General Eric Holder, federal, state and local law enforcement officials, including Acting United States Attorney for the Central District of California, Stephanie Yonekura, and community members and stakeholders from Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Boston all participated in the Summit. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo also joined the participants. Click on the picture above to access a link to an original eleven-minute Film entitled Countering Violent Extremism: The Los Angeles Model, which was created by Ken Arlidge of AeroFilm, in association with the Los Angeles Police Department and members of the Los Angeles Community. The Film was unveiled to the public at the White House Summit as part of the overall presentation by the Los Angeles Community. The fourteen-page Los Angeles Framework For Countering Violent Extremism and the accompanying one-page CVE Fact Sheet can be viewed at links below.

Los Angeles Framework For Countering Violent Extremism

CVE Fact Sheet

Topic(s):
Community Outreach
Saturday, July 26, 2014

On Thursday, July 26, one of the longest and most beautiful evenings of the year, the United States Attorney’s Office launched their annual volunteer partnership with the City of Los Angeles’ Summer Night Lights Program (“SNL”) at Jim Gilliam Park in the Baldwin Village neighborhood of Los Angeles. USTA Teaching Pro, Marty Woods, and AUSAs Dennis Mitchell, Heather Gorman and Bruce Riordan led the Youth Tennis Clinic on the tennis courts of lower Jim Gilliam Park, running dozens of neighborhood youth through tennis training drills. Community Relations Specialist Gymeka Williams coordinated CDCA volunteers Shaton McDaniel (and her husband), Richard Cordero, Sarah Spielberger, Pat Myles, and Daryl Meigs at the upper level of the Park – where they helped to cook and serve hundreds of hamburgers to neighborhood residents. The SNL Program Managers described the CDCA’s effort as “amazing.” The SNL Program will continue at Jim Gilliam Park throughout the summer and the CDCA will provide volunteers every Thursday night.

Topic(s):
Community Outreach

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