Attorney General Jeff Sessions Recognizes Department Employees and Others for Their Service at the 66th Annual Attorney General Awards
Ten Individuals Honored from the Eastern District of California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Attorney General Jeff Sessions recognized 244 department employees for their distinguished public service today at the 66th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. Thirty-six other individuals outside of the department were also honored for their work. This annual ceremony recognizes employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, leadership, and service to the Department of Justice and the American people. This year’s award includes an award for exceptional heroism to U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector Basilio S. Perez Jr. for his courageous actions to protect and aid victims of the October 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Service in the Department of Justice is more than a normal job; it is a calling to the highest standards of professionalism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “That is true for all of the 115,000 Department of Justice employees. But it is especially true for these award winners. And so I want to thank them and their families for their exemplary service to this Department and to the American people. They have made this Department proud.”
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott said: “It was an honor to be part of the ceremony recognizing the team that took down AlphaBay in 2017. This multi-agency team worked tirelessly to disrupt a marketplace that was selling dangerous and illegal goods. We are delighted that the U.S. Department of Justice is recognizing three of our attorneys for their outstanding contributions to the Department and its mission.”
This year’s program honors individuals across the department and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners for their self-less efforts, protecting our national security and our civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, going after gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings. The awards also honor the work of civil and environmental litigation, which enforces the rule of law and upholds our Constitution. They also recognize employees whose ideas and efforts save taxpayer dollars and help our government operate more effectively and efficiently, among other contributions to public safety and good governance.
In addition to AlphaBay team members in Washington D.C. and around the world, the Attorney General recognized 10 team members from the Eastern District of California for their work on the AlphaBay case. The multi-agency takedown of AlphaBay, the world’s largest darknet marketplace, was a landmark victory in the Department’s fight against cybercrime. The meticulously planned international operation involved law enforcement partners in Asia, Europe, and North America. AlphaBay had over 200,000 active listings for illegal goods, including fentanyl and heroin, stolen identity documents, computer hacking tools, and illegal firearms. During the takedown, the team was able to seize record amounts of digital currencies, including Bitcoin, Monero, and Zcash, and permanently disable the infrastructure of the site while coordinating with its international partners to simultaneously shutdown Hansa, the second‑largest darknet marketplace. The team also tracked down and seized millions of dollars in assets held by the site’s administrator. The case serves as a model for complex international cybercrime investigations and demonstrates the value in inter-agency and international coordination.
After the takedown, online drug markets were in disarray with just a few disorganized markets struggling to reclaim AlphaBay’s business. The previously thriving Bitcoin exchanges became a fraction of what they once were. The operation was a massive success and a model for future dark-market operations.
The Attorney General presented awards to the following AlphaBay team members from the Eastern District of California: Assistant U.S. Attorneys Paul Hemesath, Grant Rabenn, and Kevin Khasigian; Sacramento FBI Special Agents Nicholas Phirippidis and Heriberto Cadena; Fresno DEA Special Agent John Rabaut; Fresno IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent Kulbir Mand; Fresno DEA Special Agent Jay Dial; and Sacramento FBI Computer Scientists Darin Smith and Matthew Gern.