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Criminal Division

Denise Cheung, Chief
Gregg Maisel, Deputy Chief

Jennifer Blackwell, Deputy Chief

The Criminal Division has primary responsibility for the prosecution of criminal cases in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Division also has primary responsibility within the Office for the investigation of possible violations of federal law in the district. The Division is currently organized into four sections.  The mission of the Criminal Division is to promote the law enforcement, prevention, and public safety priorities of the Department of Justice and the District of Columbia by investigating and prosecuting violations of federal criminal law, by building and maintaining strong partnerships with federal and local law enforcement agencies and other prosecutorial offices, by supporting and vindicating the rights of victims, and by publicizing law enforcement efforts in a manner that promotes the general deterrence of criminal conduct

The Federal Major Crimes Section ("FMC") mission is threefold: (1) to handle faster-paced, arrest-generated cases, (2) to prosecute a myriad of federal criminal statutes, and (3) to provide extensive training to attorneys in federal practice.  FMC handles a wide variety of cases, including but not limited to (1) firearms offenses, (2) narcotics offenses, (3) kidnappings and carjackings, (4) Hobbs Act robberies, (5) bank robberies, (6) frauds, (7) interstate threats and threats against public officials, (8) child exploitation/pornography, (9) human trafficking, (10) immigration and passport/visa offenses, and (11) other similar offenses. FMC is also responsible for prosecuting the majority of civil disturbances and criminal violations that involve the seat of government in our nation's capital, including destruction of federal property on or around the National Mall, interfering with the orderly conduct of government business, assaults on federal law enforcement personnel, and criminal conduct that occurs on the grounds of the White House, the U.S. Capitol Building, the Supreme Court, or other federal property.

FMC AUSAs are responsible for coordinating with arresting law enforcement agencies and the United States Marshals Service, evaluating Felon in Possession (“FIP") arrests and other arrest-generated cases for prosecution, drafting complaints and affidavits upon arrest, drafting search warrants, reviewing relevant body-worn camera footage, presenting cases to the federal grand jury, returning indictments to the Magistrate Judge, assisting with initial appearances and detention hearings, providing discovery, prosecuting cases through trial or resolution, and sentencing in support of arrest-generated cases and other cases within FMC's areas of responsibility. 

The Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Unit (CEHT) is a specialized entity within FMC. This Unit handles investigations and prosecutions of federal sex offenses, such as the production, distribution, and receipt of child pornography. CEHT also prosecutes human trafficking offenses, including sex trafficking of minors and adults. In appropriate cases, CEHT also handles matters that include D.C. Code sex offense charges incorporated into federal cases.

The Fraud, Public Corruption, and Civil Rights Section (“FPCCR") consists of two litigating units, the Fraud Unit and the Public Corruption and Civil Rights (“PCCR") Unit.  The Fraud Unit prosecutes white-collar offenses, such as frauds on government agencies, including health-care fraud, tax fraud, and frauds on COVID-19 relief programs; frauds targeting businesses, non-profits, and social institutions, whether by insiders or outsiders, including business email compromise schemes; foreign corrupt practices; money laundering networks perpetrating frauds against financial institutions and online through cryptocurrencies; and cyber-enabled frauds (such as malware and carding forums) and crimes (such as hacking/intrusion).  The PCCR Unit prosecutes public corruption offenses, such as bribery of local and federal officials; willful conflicts of interest; theft of government funds; election crimes; and efforts to obstruct or interfere with the lawful functioning of Congress, the Judiciary, and Executive Branch.  The PCCR Unit is equally committed to prosecuting civil rights offenses, such as crimes based on protected characteristics, including race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability; excessive force by law enforcement; and other color-of-law violations. 
FPCCR often collaborates with Justice Department litigating components such as Fraud, Public Integrity, Money Laundering and Asset Recovery, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property, and Civil Rights.  FPCCR receives referrals from federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, and the Inspector General community, as well as local law enforcement agencies such as the District of Columbia Office of Inspector General and the Metropolitan Police Department. 
The Section has designated personnel who work closely with law enforcement agents in specialized areas such as health care fraud and computer crimes. Because of its unique location in our nation's capital, the section often has venue for crimes with a nexus to different states or even foreign countries. The section is staffed by experienced professionals who are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims of crime while deterring criminal wrongdoing.​​

The National Security Section (“NSS") mission is to investigate and prosecute criminal activity that threatens our nation's security. The types of matters that NSS handles include: (1) international terrorism, (2) domestic terrorism, (3) espionage, (4) export control and sanctions violations, (5) malign foreign influence, (6) economic espionage, (7) unauthorized retention or disclosure of classified national defense information, (8) cyber offenses targeted at the U.S. government or critical infrastructure and/or perpetrated by those connected to state actors or terrorist organizations, and (9) transnational repression.  The Section's Threat Finance Unit works closely with law enforcement, the Intelligence Community, and various regulators to use all tools – including criminal prosecutions, criminal forfeiture, civil forfeiture, economic sanctions, and trade sanctions – to seize, forfeit, and disrupt funds and assets supporting sanctioned regimes, terrorists, and other individuals and groups that pose a threat to our national security.

NSS also has primary responsibility in the U.S. Attorney's Office for crisis response and management.  The Section's focus on national security cases enables it to dedicate the efforts of experienced prosecutors to matters that the Department of Justice has designated as a top national priority and underscores our Office's commitment to give these cases the highest level of attention.  NSS prosecutors carry appropriate national security clearances.

AUSAs in NSS work closely with many federal law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Commerce.  NSS also coordinates its efforts with the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, various U.S. Embassies overseas, and our foreign counterparts in law enforcement and prosecution.  NSS attorneys typically work on matters in coordination with attorneys from the Department of Justice's National Security Division and attorneys from the Department's Office of International Affairs. ​

The Violence Reduction and Trafficking Offenses Section ("VRTO") mission is to disrupt and dismantle our district's most serious drivers of violence and large-scale firearms and drug trafficking.  VRTO places an emphasis on proactive, intelligence-driven, long- and medium-term criminal investigations, and our prosecutions focus on violent and armed crews and conspiracies, collective conduct, and repeat offenders.  VRTO's prosecutions target everything from criminal street gangs to international syndicates and span a broad range of subjects and statutes, from firearms and narcotics conspiracies, interstate robbery conspiracies, and RICO and VICAR prosecutions, to darknet drug trafficking and money laundering, Continuing Criminal Enterprises, and Title III wiretap investigations.  VRTO AUSAs regularly advise, strategize, and coordinate with law enforcement agencies on investigative steps and sequencing; draft search warrants and other legal process; present cases to the federal grand jury; brief and handle detention hearings and other hearings in court; and take cases to trial.

Updated October 16, 2023