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Press Release

Tulare County District Attorney’s Investigator Receives Award for His Contribution to the Mission of the Department of Justice

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

FRESNO, Calif. — United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner is pleased to announce the 2014 winner of the Eastern District of California Law Enforcement Award for Outstanding Investigator in the Fresno Division. This award is one of four awards presented annually to a law enforcement agency and an officer in each of the Sacramento and Fresno divisions of the Eastern District of California to recognize outstanding collaboration between federal state and local law enforcement in addressing public safety issues in this region.

The 2014 Fresno Division’s Outstanding Law Enforcement Investigator Award goes to Dwayne Johnson of the Tulare County Office of the District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigations for his work with the San Joaquin Valley Mortgage Fraud Task Force (MFTF). In this capacity, Investigator Johnson has worked closely with the Fresno U.S. Attorney’s Office and its partner federal law enforcement agencies in leading several mortgage fraud-related investigations and prosecutions that have targeted large-scale fraud schemes, yielded significant guilty pleas and vindicated the rights of countless victims.

In May 2013, Investigator Johnson was the lead investigator in a fraudulent foreclosure rescue business case. On the basis of a single complaint, Johnson commenced a long-term investigation that ultimately uncovered a fraud scheme that victimized dozens of homeowners in numerous counties, many of whom eventually lost their houses in foreclosure. Johnson prepared and undertook the execution of several search warrants, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, conducted dozens of witness interviews and planned and executed various undercover operations. Juan Ramon Curiel and Santiago Palacios-Hernandez (Case No. 1:13-cr-188 LJO), pleaded guilty in December 2014 and admitted that they had caused more than $2.5 million in losses to more than 50 vulnerable homeowners and financial institutions.

"The financial crisis hit our communities particularly hard and over the past six years our office has taken a leading role in prosecuting those who engaged in mortgage fraud to enrich themselves while harming our economy and driving down the value of our neighborhoods," said U.S. Attorney Wagner. "Our success was only possible because of dedicated, hard-working law enforcement officers like Investigator Johnson. My office, the Eastern District, and Tulare County all owe a great debt to Investigator Johnson and his many skilled and dedicated colleagues in local law enforcement who do the heavy lifting in protecting our communities."

Earlier this year, three of the 2014 awards were presented to the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office and the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office for their outstanding work in cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Last week the 2014 award for Outstanding Investigator in the Sacramento Division was presented to Sacramento Police Department’s Detective Derek Stigerts for his work investigating crimes involving the sex trafficking of minors.

Updated May 18, 2015

Office and Personnel Updates