The U.S. Attorney's Report To The District - Annual Report For 2010
Each month, we report about the work of the office, so that we may be accountable to our citizens. This report focuses on our work for 2010.
Our goal is to improve the quality of life for the residents of the district. We want to help our state attract and retain residents and businesses by making it a place where people want to live, work, and do business. We seek to achieve that goal through our legal enforcement work, our crime prevention programs, and our efforts to increase community trust in law enforcement.
In addition to our substantive work, we constantly strive to improve the quality of our work and our productivity, so that we may best serve our citizens. Here is a recap of our work in 2010.
We have sought to work on the cases that will have the most significant impact on improving the quality of life for the residents of the Eastern District of Michigan. In 2010, we attacked violent crime, so that people will feel safe to live and do business here. We tackled public corruption, so that our citizens could have confidence in our public officials and government offices. We focused on national security to protect our residents from terrorist attacks. We took on financial fraud, such as health care fraud, mortgage and investor fraud, environmental crimes, and theft of trade secrets, to protect the resources of our community. We launched a new Civil Rights Unit, so that all people will feel welcome to live and do business here, an essential component of a vibrant community. Our work is described below, and more detailed information about some of our most significant cases can be found at the Press Releases link.
To address violent crime, we formed the Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership, a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Detroit. We used a strategy of enforcement, prevention and public engagement through a series of townhall meetings. In 2010, our enforcement activities included the prosecution of gang activity, murder, armed robbery, home invasion, arson, and felons possessing guns illegally.
Our efforts to protect children from exploitation over the internet rescued several children from their abusers.
In Flint, we partnered with the City's Ceasefire initiative and increased our intake volume to reduce gun violence. We worked closely with the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office to coordinate our prosecution efforts of firearms offenses and drug trafficking.
In Saginaw and Bay City, we tackled gang and drug activity, and in Mt. Pleasant, we prosecuted cases of violence occurring on the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Reservation.
Our efforts to tackle public corruption have yielded more than a dozen convictions relating to corruption in Detroit, Southfield and Ecorse. In 2010, we indicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and others on public corruption charges. We also indicted individuals who abused positions of trust in the public school system. We hope that these efforts will deter other public officials from abusing the public trust in the future.
Our National Security Unit worked to protect our citizens from terrorist attacks and other threats to national security. We continued the prosecution of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is charged with attempting to blow up an airliner on Christmas Day, 2009. In another case, we convicted a local man who lied about his relationship with the Iraqi government on his application to obtain a top secret security clearance to work as a translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq. We convicted individuals of making hoax distress calls to the U.S. Coast Guard on the Detroit River, diverting rescue resources from others in need. We worked with the Department of Homeland Security to protect our international border.
Financial fraud was an area of emphasis. In 2010, we brought cases involving violations of our environmental laws. Michigan's natural resources are our greatest asset, and are using our resources to protect them. We prosecuted individuals for falsifying lead inspections in Detroit homes, exposing children to risk of serious injury from contamination. We also prosecuted businesses for illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste.
We prosecuted defendants for theft of trade secrets in cases involving stolen technology in the auto industry. One case involved charges of hybrid technology stolen from General Motors. Another involved charges of electrical systems stolen from Ford. We want to make sure that the technology investments made by our auto companies stay in Michigan.
Our new Health Care Fraud Unit was also busy in 2010. As our nation struggles to provide affordable health care for our citizens, we are working hard to make sure that medical providers are not stealing health care dollars from taxpayers.
Our attorneys, along with the DOJ Medicare Fraud Strike Force, brought criminal and civil cases against doctors, pharmacists, and health care providers involving fraudulent billings and the diversion of prescription drugs for illegal uses. The cases we brought involved fraudulent billings exceeding $100 million.
One health care case involved a settlement with the Detroit Medical Center to resolve self-disclosed claims for violations of federal law. In addition to recovering $30 million for our taxpayers, the settlement also gave DMC a clean bill of health so that it could be acquired by Vanguard and continue to serve patients in Detroit.
We also prosecuted cases involving mortgage fraud, which result in foreclosures that lower property values and create havens for criminal activity. As mortgage fraud has evolved from loan origination schemes to bailout schemes, we have adapted our strategies to stay ahead of the criminals. We also prosecuted investor fraud schemes, many of which victimized small investors and pension funds.
We recovered $46 million in judgments, fines, forfeiture and restitution in fiscal year 2010, almost twice our office's annual budget.
We created a Civil Rights Unit in 2010 to address violations of fair housing, access to public transportation, disability rights, hate crimes, and police misconduct. Our Civil Rights Unit won a judgment for six low-income women who were the victims of housing discrimination in the form of sexual harassment. A jury awarded the victims not only compensatory damages, but also punitive damages to punish the defendants for their conduct. We also obtained a settlement with an apartment complex in Ann Arbor that admitted to discriminating against minority tenants. And we worked to obtain the Detroit Police Department's compliance with a federal consent decree to improve police practices. We will continue our civil rights efforts to insure that all people feel welcome to live and do business in our region.
While aggressive enforcement of the law is an essential part of suppressing and deterring crime, another important part is prevention. History tells us that we cannot simply arrest our way out of crime. Long-term solutions require prevention efforts.
We focused on re-entry, meeting with citizens returning to the community from prison in our Face to Face program, to advise them of the support programs available to them in our community as well as the serious consequences of returning to a life of crime. When statistics show that two-thirds of offenders become repeat offenders, we believe that re-entry efforts are essential to reducing crime rates.
We also extended prevention efforts to young people. We visited schools to educate students about the consequences of gun violence in a program called Project Sentry.
We hosted a summer camp for at-risk youth called Camp DEFY, where students received training from law enforcement officers in drug awareness, peer counseling, and conflict resolution, as well as traditional camp activities like swimming and canoeing. The mentoring relationships the students built with law enforcement officers during the summer continued into the school year.
We also renewed our Explorers program, in which at-risk students meet at our offices biweekly to learn about careers in the law.
Our Weed and Seed sites throughout the district also worked on important crime prevention programs, such as creating safe routes to school, providing training for citizens returning to the community from prison, removing neighborhood blight, and organizing citizen patrols.
We also worked in 2010 to improve public trust in law enforcement. We know that we can be more effective when the public has confidence in the legal system. We rely on citizens to provide tips and to report when they are victims of crimes.
In an effort to earn public trust, we organized and participated in townhall meetings with other law enforcement agencies. There, we answered questions and listened to ideas from our citizens so that we can better work together to reduce violent crime.
We worked with the federal court to improve the diversity on juries, and developed an office diversity plan to improve our own diversity so that we may better reflect the public we serve.
Following the closure of the Detroit Police Department crime lab after irregularities were found in ballistics testing, we reviewed all of our cases in which defendants were convicted at trial to insure that integrity of our convictions, and found that none of these cases involved ballistics reports from the DPD lab.
We met with members of communities that are impacted by our work, including the Hispanic, African-American, Arab American and Muslim, LGBT, Jewish, and Native American communities, so that we might better understand different perspectives. We participated in forums on racial profiling, immigration, and hate crime, and we participated in partnerships such as the Michigan Alliance Against Hate Crimes (MIAAHC), Advocates and Leaders for Police and Community Trust (ALPACT), and Building Respect in Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity (BRIDGES).
We conducted informal roundtable meetings with criminal defense attorneys, so that we may examine our case work, policies and practices. We will continue to look for ways to listen to different perspectives.
IMPROVING OUR WORK
We also sought to improve our own work internally, through restructuring, training, coordination of efforts between our units, in-house creation of resources, exploration of ways to use technology to improve efficiency, and improved communication. Although our office was already performing at a very high level, we must always strive to improve our work and adapt to an evolving world. Among our accomplishments in 2010:
• We restructured the office for the first time in more than 30 years to align attorney resources with priorities, and to provide smaller units of supervision to increase accountability and to improve support to our employees.
• We implemented a weekly training program for new Assistant U.S. Attorneys, created monthly training programs for our support staff, provided training for law enforcement agents on numerous topics, and continued our Monday lunch series for continuing education.
• We implemented regular meetings between our civil and criminal lawyers handling mortgage fraud and health care fraud to improve coordination of efforts.
• We appointed Support Staff Coordinators for our Criminal and Civil Divisions to unify practices, revise forms, and improve processes.
• We appointed a Senior Litigation Counsel to organize roundtable discussions to analyze significant cases before indictment.
• We created internal manuals and databases, detailing best practices for a number of subject matter areas.
• We formed a committee to explore ways to use technology to improve our work.
• We updated our website to provide more information to the public.
These are just some examples of ways we improved our internal processes in 2010. We will continue to seek ways to improve our ability to serve our citizens.
GOALS FOR 2011
In 2011, we will continue to work on these priorities to improve our region for our citizens. We will work on three important areas. First, we will work aggressively and fairly in our substantive priority areas at both enforcement and prevention efforts. Second, we will work to improve public trust in law enforcement because we want our citizens to have confidence in our work. And third, we will continue to work to improve the management of our own office -- our productivity as well as the quality of our work.
If our citizens could see the hard work that is performed on their behalf every day at the U.S. Attorney's Office, they would be very proud of the public service that is provided by the attorneys, support staff and other professionals. We work very hard on your behalf every day, and we take great satisfaction in knowing that our work has a positive impact on our community. We are very proud of all that we accomplished together in 2010, and we will work hard to give you our best effort in 2011.
Barbara L. McQuade
United States Attorney
Eastern District of Michigan