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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Central District of California

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Five Assistant U.S. Attorneys from Southern California to Receive Attorney General’s Award for Response to San Bernardino Attack

          LOS ANGELES – In a ceremony this afternoon at the Department of Justice in Washington, five Assistant United States Attorneys are receiving 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.

          The five AUSAs and 10 other members of the federal response team are being recognized by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for their outstanding achievements and contributions towards protecting U.S. National security. The five prosecutors were part of a team that responded immediately after the shooting rampage at the San Bernardino Inland Regional Center (IRC) on December 2, 2015. Members of the team worked around the clock for weeks to ensure that justice was served after the terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people and wounded 22 others.

          The team quickly identified the assailants, discovered their pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and unearthed earlier plots to attack Inland Empire targets – plans that involved one of the shooters and Enrique Marquez Jr., the man who supplied the two of the firearms used in the IRC attack and who is pending sentencing after pleading guilty to federal charges that include providing material support and resources to terrorists. The team also uncovered an immigration fraud scheme involving Marquez and one of the attackers’ family members that has resulted in three additional guilty pleas.

          The AUSAs receiving the Attorney General’s Award today are: 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, who is based in Los Angeles; and Jay H. Robinson of the Riverside Branch Office.

          The five federal prosecutors – all members of the National Security Division in the United States Attorney’s Office – are being honored along with 10 other people, including Washington-based attorneys with the Justice Department and special agents with the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

          The five prosecutors are being honored today at a ceremony at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. being attended by the honorees, their families and Acting United States Attorney Sandra R. Brown.

          “These federal prosecutors represent the highest ideals of the Justice Department – including unwavering dedication, commitment and professionalism – as they worked with their federal and state law enforcement colleagues to uncover every aspect of the attack and to ensure there was no further threat,” said Acting United States Attorney Brown said. “The work done in this case reflects on the entire Department of Justice, and I could not be more proud of the work done by these excellent attorneys.”

          The other members of the San Bernardino federal response team being honored today are: FBI Special Agents Christopher Pluhar, Joel T. Anderson, Martin E. Burry, Nathan T. Elias, Theodore C. Nevatt, Patrick M. Race, and Thomas J. Ropel III; ATF Resident Agent in Charge Adam D. Ekstrom;  and Justice Department Trial Attorneys Matthew F. Blue and C. Alexandria Bogle of the Counterterrorism Section.

          Attorney General Sessions will recognize 202 Justice Department employees and 19 other people for their distinguished public service today at the 65th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. The annual ceremony recognizes individuals for their outstanding service and dedication to carrying out the mission of the Department of Justice.

          “Every single day, the 115,000 men and women of the Department of Justice work to protect our national security against terrorist threats, defend the civil rights of all Americans, reduce violent crime in our communities, stop deadly drug dealers and their organizations, and strengthen the rule of law,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This work benefits every American, and each Department of Justice employee plays a role that helps us accomplish our objectives. Today, we take a moment to recognize those who have distinguished themselves by exemplary service to the Department. Each one of these men and women – through their dedication and commitment – has made a difference. Meeting with them and their families today, I am more confident than ever that the Department – and the safety of the American people – are in good hands.”

Thom Mrozek Spokesperson/Public Affairs Officer United States Attorney’s Office Central District of California (Los Angeles) 213-894-6947
Press Release Number: 
Updated October 25, 2017