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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

10 Eastern District Of New York Employees And 3 Federal Agents Honored By Department Of Justice At Executive Office For United States Attorneys Director’s Awards Ceremony

Deputy AG Sally Yates and EOUSA Director Monty Wilkinson Recognize Select Employees in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – Ten Assistant United States Attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York and three federal agents were among the 160 members of the Department of Justice recognized by Deputy Attorney General Attorney General Sally Yates, and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director Monty Wilkinson at the 32nd annual Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C.

The Eastern District of New York was one of 33 districts represented at the ceremony which was held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.

In her prepared remarks, Deputy Attorney General Yates said, “The achievements being recognized today reflect the breadth of the department’s responsibilities, and some of our most significant challenges.   From dismantling dangerous gangs, drug cartels, and human trafficking operations to tackling political corruption, white collar crimes, and international terrorism, these awardees have taken on our toughest cases.  And the citizens of our country are safer because of their work.” 

“We honor the truly talented and dedicated legal and administrative personnel in the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and our law enforcement partners who everyday touch lives in our communities, protect the American people, and work to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice,” said Director Wilkinson.

Executive Assistant United States Attorney Orelia E. Merchant received the award for Superior Performance as an AUSA-Civil for her exemplary performance and leadership in coordinating the handling of over 1,300 cases arising out of Hurricane Sandy, a disaster that affected over 100,000 homeowners in the EDNY in October 2012.  Ms. Merchant was instrumental in achieving favorable results for homeowners, while protecting FEMA’s legal, policy, and programmatic interests.

Assistant United States Attorneys Shreve Ariail, Samuel Nitze, and Rena Paul received the award for Superior Performance as an AUSA- Criminal for the prosecution of Ronald Herron.  The Gowanus and Wyckoff Gardens neighborhoods in Brooklyn were terrorized for nearly two decades by Herron, a high-ranking member of the “Murderous Mad Dawg” Bloods.  During the trial on a 21-count racketeering indictment that included multiple murder charges, Herron and his henchmen threatened witnesses and harassed victim families.  Notwithstanding these obstructive efforts, the team obtained convictions on all counts, ridding the district of one of New York’s most dangerous criminals. Herron was sentenced to 12 life terms in prison.

Assistant United States Attorneys Zainab Ahmad and Hilary Jager received the award for Superior Performance as an AUSA - Criminal for the prosecution of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) operative Lawal Olaniyi Babafemi.  Babafemi traveled from Nigeria to Yemen in 2010-2011, where he met with AQAP leaders who trained him in the importance of the English-language media to AQAP and its mission to inspire lone wolf attacks abroad in the name of al-Qaeda.  Babafemi was extradited to the United States from Nigeria, pled guilty, and sentenced to 22 years of imprisonment.  The case was significant as it related to efforts to prosecute individuals who not only engage in physical violence, but also who create and disseminate violent terrorist propaganda world-wide.      

Assistant United States Attorneys James Loonam, Matthew Amatruda, Soumya Dayananda, Rena Paul, Paralegal Specialist Tareva Torres, FBI Special Agent James Glynn, and HSI Special Agents Anthony Salisbury and Mathew Doyle received the award for Superior Performance By A Litigative Team for their performance in the more than ten-year investigation and prosecution of the Cash Money Brothers (CMB), an ultra-violent gang that controlled the Lafayette Gardens housing development in Brooklyn.  The investigation culminated in the 2015 trial conviction and life sentence of the leader of CMB, Damion “World” Hardy, and his top enforcer, Aaron Granton, for RICO violations, five murders in-aid-of racketeering, one murder-for-hire, and narcotics trafficking. 

EOUSA provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys’ Offices around the country.  For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit


Office and Personnel Updates
Updated June 1, 2016