The Criminal Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York is responsible for the enforcement of federal criminal laws within the district. Approximately 110 Assistant United States Attorneys (“AUSAs”) as well as support staff members are assigned to the following sections within the division: National Security and Cybercrime, Business and Securities Fraud, Organized Crime and Gangs, Civil Rights, Narcotics, Public Integrity, and General Crimes. The office also operates a Criminal Division on Long Island.
All new AUSAs are assigned to the General Crimes Section, where they handle a wide variety of cases. These cases include the importation and distribution of narcotics, child pornography and child exploitation offenses, firearms offenses, immigration offenses, tax fraud, bank robbery, postal theft, counterfeiting and computer crimes. New AUSAs handle all phases of a criminal prosecution, from the initial investigation and arrest through trial, sentencing, appeal and any habeas corpus petition. General Crimes AUSAs are closely supervised within the office and attend a training for new prosecutors at the Department of Justice’s National Advocacy Center, located in Columbia, South Carolina.
The National Security and Cybercrime Section maintains one of the preeminent national security practices in the Department of Justice and prosecutes a broad array of counterterrorism, counterintelligence, weapons proliferation and cybercrime cases. Since September 11, 2001, the office has secured the most terrorism convictions of any U.S. Attorney’s Office in the country, including the conviction of terrorists plotting to bomb the New York City subway system, the Long Island Railroad, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and JFK International Airport, as well as to attack United States troops and property overseas. For example, the office recently convicted defendants responsible for the 2009 al-Qaeda plot to attack the New York City subway system with improvised explosive devices, including Najibullah Zazi and his co-conspirators. The office is currently prosecuting several foreign terrorists captured overseas in connection with their support of al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The office has also prosecuted myriad weapons proliferators and illegal exporters of sensitive technology, including several defendants convicted of attempting to smuggle high-grade carbon fiber to China. Finally, the office prosecutes complex, international cybercrimes, including recent intrusions targeting global payment processors, which resulted in a $45 million ATM cyber heist, as well as intrusions targeting the Federal Reserve, manufacturers of sophisticated electronics and defense contractors.
The Business and Securities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York investigates and prosecutes all corporate, securities, health care and investment fraud, as well as Foreign Corrupt Practice Act violations. We regularly partner with various government and regulatory institutions including the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Our matters often involve national and international financial crimes involving bribery, theft and destruction of trade secrets, securities and corporate fraud, money laundering and criminal forfeiture.
The Organized Crime and Gangs Section continues the office’s historical leadership in the prosecution of both traditional and emerging organized criminal enterprises. In 2011, the office led the national, largest single day operation against La Cosa Nostra, prosecuting 100 defendants from all five New York-based organized crime families (and others) for an array of offenses including murder, murder conspiracy, loansharking, arson, narcotics trafficking, extortion, robbery, illegal gambling and labor racketeering, in some cases occurring over decades. Since 2003, the office has convicted the boss or acting boss of each of the five families that operate in the New York City area, in some cases more than once when the leadership of the families turned over, along with mid-level managers and numerous soldiers and associates. The office likewise uses federal racketeering and other statutes to pursue emerging criminal organizations in Eurasian, Eastern European, Asian, and other communities. A leader in the Justice Department’s assault on violent crime, the Section works to rid neighborhoods of the local, national, and international violent gangs which terrorize them. In the last decade, the office has dismantled numerous neighborhood-based gangs responsible for countless murders and other violent crimes throughout our District. It has also pursued and defeated local affiliates of national and international gangs, including most prominently MS-13, Bloods, Folk Nation, Almighty Bloods Nation, Latin Kings, Crips and Nétas. For example, since 2008, the office has significantly reduced the leadership and ranks of the Bloods gang in Staten Island, Gowanus, Crown Heights, and other areas of the District, particularly in public housing projects, and has prosecuted multiple murders committed by members of MS-13. In July 2013, the office secured the death penalty – the first such sentence imposed in New York in over fifty years – against Ronell Wilson for his brutal murder of two New York Police Department Detectives.
The office continues to prosecute major national and international drug organizations that import narcotics through John F. Kennedy International Airport and other transshipment points, and distribute narcotics in our district and elsewhere. The office has been responsible for convicting the leaders of major Colombian drug organizations and Cartels as well as the world’s largest marijuana suppliers. The office’s ongoing efforts are focused on the major Mexican Cartels and other organizations engaged in large-scale narcotics trafficking, complex international money laundering, and drug-related violence.
The office is determined to hold public officials accountable when they abuse their positions, whether elected or appointed, to further their own interests in violation of the public trust. To that end, the office has recently convicted the former New York State Senate majority leader of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federally funded charity, as well as tax crimes, and convicted another State Senator of fraud for embezzling over $80,000 in state funds from another charity. The office also has indictments pending against a third State Senator, the former head of the Senate Democratic Conference, for both embezzling funds from a trust account and obstruction of justice, and against a State Assemblyman for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funds and attempting to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars more in bribes. In addition, the office recently convicted an Assistant Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for taking bribes and kickbacks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and convicted eight HPD officials and contractors for related crimes, with three others charged and awaiting trial. The office will continue to lead the Department’s drive to apply a full array of investigative techniques to its ongoing investigations of corrupt local, state, and federal officials, and those who would corrupt them.
The office continues to make significant strides in prosecuting civil rights violations, achieving particular success more recently in the prosecution of human trafficking cases. The office is at the forefront of the Department’s effort to combat human trafficking, a modern form of slavery, and has prosecuted numerous traffickers who have compelled the labor and services of adults and minors, many of whom were forced to work in the sex trade, from the United States and abroad. Historically, the office has been involved in the most prominent criminal civil rights cases in New York City, including the sexual assault of Abner Louima by members of the New York City Police Department’s 70th Precinct in Brooklyn and the violent attack of Yankel Rosenbaum during the onset of the Crown Heights riots in Brooklyn. In 2008, the office successfully prosecuted four men for carrying out bias-motivated assaults against African-Americans following the election of President Barack Obama.
Fourteen AUSAs as well as support staff members are assigned to the Eastern District’s Long Island office, located in Central Islip. Assigned AUSAs are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the broad array of federal crimes that arise in suburban Nassau and Suffolk counties. In recent years, prosecutors from this office have been increasingly active in prosecuting violent gangs, terrorism, securities and corporate fraud, public corruption, major narcotics traffickers, traditional organized crime, and child pornography traffickers. Over the past two years alone, the Long Island Criminal Division has prosecuted more than 150 gang defendants.
Finally, together with our office’s Civil Division, the Criminal Division has been at the forefront of using money laundering and forfeiture statutes to prosecute criminals for hiding and disguising their criminal profits and to deprive them of these ill-gotten gains. The forfeiture practice often litigates matters of first impression, and its recoveries consistently rank it as one of the top five districts in the country. The office has succeeded in obtaining multi-million dollar forfeitures judgment in cases involving corporate fraud, health care fraud, securities fraud, HUD fraud, narcotics dealing, and organized crime.