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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Arkansas

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 22, 2018

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas Indicts 73 Cases in June, Including 39 Gun Cases

LITTLE ROCK—Following a week in which more than 50 defendants appeared before United States Magistrate Judge Joe J. Volpe for their first appearance in federal court, today Cody Hiland, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, announced the filing of 73 indictments in the month of June.

Thirty-nine of the 73 indictments involve gun crimes, filed as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative. Hiland’s announcement illustrates his office’s commitment to prosecuting gun crimes and removing dangerous criminals from the streets.

“As I said back in February, when I announced that our office’s top priorities will include the successful prosecution of gun crimes, we will not slow down or back off our commitment to take dangerous individuals off the streets and put them in prison by any means available to us under federal law,” Hiland said. “The days of dangerous criminals illegally possessing guns with impunity are over. I am proud of the partnership and hard work between our office and the federal, state and local agencies we work with every day. These indictments are a product of that hard work and a reflection of the cooperative relationship necessary to turn these cases into indictments.

“It’s important to note the work is just beginning. Law enforcement will continue to make cases and we will continue to process them for prosecution. We’re anxious for these criminals to face justice in the federal system where parole is not an option.”

In 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the Eastern District of Arkansas (EDAR) indicted 62 cases in which a gun charge was the primary crime charged. Throughout 2017, the highest number of PSN indictments filed in any one month was 15 in July. By contrast, through the first six months of 2018, the EDAR has indicted 89 PSN cases, with June’s 39 indictments being the highest one-month total so far. In 2017, the USAO EDAR opened a total of 106 PSN cases; 174 PSN cases have been opened in the office in the first six months of 2018, with more indictments expected. The USAO EDAR opened a total of 438 cases in 2017. Through June, Hiland’s office has opened 456 cases in 2018.

Hiland’s office is receiving aid in handling this additional caseload by the addition of 12 Special Assistant United States Attorneys (SAUSAs). Four SAUSAs who have completed their background checks have been assigned 15 cases thus far.

Additionally, Hiland announces the hiring of Gerald “Bart” Dickinson to serve as a violent crimes prosecutor. Dickinson is currently chief counsel at the Arkansas Office of Medicaid Inspector General and previously served as a gang and violent crimes prosecutor in Little Rock from 2001 through 2007. He also served as chief deputy prosecutor in Lonoke County, and worked for the Arkansas Attorney General’s office. Dickinson, who has been assisting as a SAUSA, will begin full-time work when cleared by the Department of Justice.

PSN is a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department of Justice’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, and directed all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, and local law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

Each of these PSN cases is first opened by the USAO for investigation in consultation with a local or federal law enforcement partner. Following investigation, an Assistant U.S. Attorney presents the case to a grand jury for potential indictment. A federal indictment is a formal charging document that is presented to a grand jury, which then determines whether probable cause exists for the alleged crimes.

Following indictment, a defendant will appear before a United States Magistrate Judge. The Magistrate Judge then informs the defendant of the charges against him, the possible punishment, and determines whether the defendant will remain detained, or released on bond.

In addition to the 39 gun cases filed in June, the U.S. Attorney’s office indicted 13 cases involving drug-trafficking crimes, 10 involving immigration crimes, 4 involving crimes against children, 2 fraud cases, and 1 identity theft case.

The new gun cases primarily originated in Little Rock and surrounding Pulaski County. Charges include felon in possession of firearms, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, and unlawful drug user in possession of firearms.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, & Explosives (ATF) has been a key partner with the U.S. Attorney’s office in developing these PSN cases. In addition, many of the 39 new PSN cases began as state cases following arrests by the Little Rock Police Department, North Little Rock Police Department, Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, and other local agencies. The FBI, through its GET Rock gang task force, and Arkansas Community Correction has also provided significant resources and assistance to this prosecution push. Throughout this initiative, which will continue indefinitely, the U.S. Attorney’s office has been working closely with Larry Jegley and the Sixth Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s office, as well as other state prosecutor’s offices.

An indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, is available on-line at
http://www.justice.gov/edar


Twitter:
@EDARNEWS

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Updated June 22, 2018