Tracy Wilkison, First Assistant United States Attorney
Tracy Wilkison joined the United States Attorney’s Office in 1999. Prior to her appointment as First Assistant United States Attorney, she was the Executive Assistant United States Attorney. Prior to that, Ms. Wilkison was the Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section within the National Security Division where she served since 2011, including as its Deputy Chief from 2014 to August 2015.
Ms. Wilkison has prosecuted numerous cyber and intellectual property cases arising from computer hacking, Internet fraud, identity theft, cyber stalking, Internet piracy, theft of trade secrets, and the sale of counterfeited trademarked or copyrighted goods. She has prosecuted several high-profile cyber cases, including a case against a sextortionist who victimized hundreds of young women and who was referred to by the judge as a “sexual cyber terrorist,” cases involving the use of malware to gain access to the computers of well-known companies and celebrities, and a case wherein extremely valuable trade secrets were stolen and distributed to competitors. She also led the team in the Apple litigation following the San Bernardino terrorist attack, and supervised the team investigating the Sony cyber attack.
Prior to joining the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section, Ms. Wilkison served as a Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section where she trained new AUSAs on prosecution skills and trial techniques, and was a member of the OCDETF Section where she prosecuted large-scale drug trafficking cases. Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office, Ms. Wilkison clerked for the Honorable Franklin VanAntwerpen, United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania. She graduated from Harvard Law School.
Stephanie Christensen, Executive Assistant United States Attorney
Stephanie Christensen has worked in the office since 2008. She received her A.B. from the University of Chicago in 1999, and her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 2004 where she served on the Law Review and was a member of the Order of the Coif. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Gary Allen Feess in the Central District of California and for the Honorable Sandra Ikuta on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before joining the Office, she worked for Caldwell, Leslie, Newcombe & Pettit, and Munger, Tolles & Olson. Prior to her appointment as Executive Assistant United States Attorney, Ms. Christensen served in the Cyber & Intellectual Property Crimes Section since 2010. She was the section’s Deputy Chief beginning in August 2015, and was appointed Chief of that section in March 2017. She has also served as a National Security Cyber Specialist and as the Intellectual Property Crimes Coordinator. During her time in the office, Ms. Christensen has co-prosecuted some of the Cyber Section’s most notable cases including the prosecution of Luis Mijangos, a hacker and sextortionist who used malware to control victim-computer webcams and microphones; the prosecution of several members of LulzSec, an international "hackavist" group that stole and published huge amounts of data from victim companies while taunting the victims over social media. In 2015, she received the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director’s Award for Outstanding Cyber Investigation for her work on the cyber intrusion at Sony Pictures Entertainment, one of the most destructive cyber-attacks on U.S. soil. She was also part of the four-person litigation team for In The Matter Of The Search Of An Apple iPhone, the encryption litigation arising from the seizure of a iPhone used by a perpetrator of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. Stephanie is the Chair of the office’s eDiscovery Committee, and serves on the OTIS and hiring committees. Ms. Christensen was a member of the OCDETF Section prior to joining Cyber and while there she co-tried a case against Dr. Masoud Bamdad, a medical doctor turned drug dealer whose sale of oxycodone prescriptions for cash lead to the overdose deaths of several teenagers and a 25-year prison term for him.
Patricia Donahue, Chief of Trials, Integrity and Professionalism
Patricia Donahue began her career in the office as an Assistant United States Attorney in 1991. She has served the central district in a wide variety of ways including as Senior Litigation Counsel in the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, Special Counsel to the United States Attorney for Violent Crime, Chief of the National Security Division, Chief of the Violent & Organized Crime Section (and its predecessor, the Organized Crime & Terrorism Section), Chief of the General Crimes Section, and Deputy Chief of the Major Crimes Section.
Ms. Donahue has served as the office coordinator for hate crimes, human trafficking, and child exploitation programs. She has received numerous awards including the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award, the Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Information Technology, a Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney, a Department of Homeland Security Excellence in Law Enforcement Award, and a United States Attorney’s Office Award for Outstanding Performance on Behalf of Crime Victims.
During her over 27 years in the office, Ms. Donahue spearheaded several prosecutions of United States citizens who engaged in illicit sexual conduct with children in Cambodia, including United States v. Pepe, which resulted in convictions for sexual abuse of seven children in Cambodia. She also handled extensive litigation, including competency and forced medication proceedings, in a capital case against an inmate who murdered a correctional officer. Early in her career, she co-tried United States v. Manning and United States v. Ross, which resulted in convictions and life sentences for a mail bomb murder. Ms. Donahue has supervised at several command posts, including those established after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino and the September 11th attacks. Ms. Donahue has handled a wide variety of investigations and trials, mentored numerous prosecutors and provided training to prosecutors and law enforcement agents. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and Stanford University.
Dennise Willett, Chief of Santa Ana Branch Office & Counsel to the U.S. Attorney
Dennise Willett has served in the Justice Department for the last 19 years. After four years as agency counsel for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Ms. Willett became an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of California. While in San Diego, Ms. Willett was assigned to the newly-formed Counterterrorism Section and oversaw Operation Game Day, resulting in successful prosecutions of threats to Super Bowl XXXVII. In 2003, Ms. Willett transferred to the Central District of California, Riverside Branch Office, where she prosecuted various crimes including bank fraud, embezzlement, violent crimes, child exploitation, narcotics trafficking and firearms violations. In 2005, Ms. Willett received the Anti-Defamation League’s Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate in recognition of successful prosecutions of white supremacist gang leaders in Yucca Valley. In 2008, Ms. Willett was promoted to Deputy Chief of the National Security Section in Los Angeles. In that capacity, Ms. Willett successfully prosecuted a purported member of the anti-Castro terrorist group, Alpha 66, for stockpiling explosives, machineguns and over 1,600 firearms behind false walls and bookshelves at his personal residence. In June 2010, Ms. Willett was promoted to Chief of the Santa Ana Branch Office. Ms. Willett oversees federal criminal prosecutions in Orange County and manages day-to-day operations in the Branch. In 2012, Ms. Willett received the Anti-Defamation League’s Sherwood Prize for Combating Hate for prosecuting members of Public Enemy Number One, a white supremacist group in Orange County. In 2013, Ms. Willett successfully tried, convicted, and denaturalized Jorge Sosa for providing false statements to the United States about his participation in the massacre of villagers in Dos Erres, Guatemala. In July 2015, Ms. Willett was appointed as Senior Counsel to the United States Attorney. Ms. Willett serves as Senior Counsel, advising the US Attorney on district-wide issues, in addition to serving as Santa Ana Branch Chief.
Max Shiner, Special Counsel to the U.S. Attorney for Violent Crime
Max Shiner has been in the Office since 2008. Mr. Shiner is a graduate of the UCLA School of Law and the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to becoming Special Counsel, Mr. Shiner served in the Violent & Organized Crime Section (“VOCS”) and served as the Project Safe Neighborhoods Coordinator for the Office from 2014-2017. He has prosecuted a variety of VOCS-related crimes, including drug trafficking, gang, RICO, child pornography, firearms possession and trafficking, and murder cases, among others. In 2012, he indicted two defendants in the murder of a United States Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer, who was killed when Mexican drug smugglers found near the Channel Islands off of the coast of California rammed a Coast Guard small boat in an effort to escape arrest. As lead counsel in the trial in 2014, he obtained guilty verdicts for both defendants on all counts, and a life sentence for the lead defendant. In 2014, as co-counsel, Mr. Shiner indicted a 72-defendant, 121-count RICO case involving the Broadway Gangster Crips, which charged the various gang member defendants with murders, shootings, robberies, and drug trafficking, among other crimes. Mr. Shiner and his co-counsel recently concluded a trial for one of these defendants, who was convicted on all counts (including findings that the objects of the RICO conspiracy included murder, robbery, and witness intimidation), and faces life imprisonment. Prior to joining the Office, Mr. Shiner was a Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney for 11 years.