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Press Release

11 Eastern District of New York Employees and Two Former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Receive Attorney General Awards

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

WASHINGTON – Eight Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA), three paralegal specialists and two former AUSAs from the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) were among the 295 department employees recognized by Attorney General William P. Barr for their distinguished public service today at the 67th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony.  Sixty-two 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.   

“Our greatest strength in our fight for Justice is our people – the thousands of men and women who have dedicated their careers, often at great personal sacrifice, to working for Justice in America, said Attorney General William P. Barr.  “As we reflect on the contributions of each of 357 individuals we honor today, we should hold them up as examples of excellence that continue to inspire our own commitment, and also as reminders of the professionalism and the qualities exhibited throughout the Department.”

“The EDNY honorees, together with our law enforcement partners, successfully litigated extremely complex cases on a world stage, prosecuting Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for his countless crimes against the people of the United States and Mexico as a leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, uncovering corruption and financial crimes at the French multinational bank Société Générale S.A., and dismantling a transnational human trafficking enterprise responsible for the sexual slavery of women trapped in its clutches,” stated United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue.  “This Office is proud of the far-reaching justice the honorees achieved as a result of their exceptional work.”

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 civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, interdicting gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings.  The awards also honor 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.

The Attorney General’s David Margolis Award for Exceptional Service.

United States v. Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman

The recipients of the Department of Justice’s highest award are Assistant United States Attorneys Gina Parlovecchio, Andrea Goldbarg, Hiral Mehta, Patricia Notopoulos and Michael Robotti; Paralegal Specialists Huda Abouchaer, Melissa Bennett and Eileen Rosado, and the members of their team from the United States Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida, Department of Justice Criminal Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigations and Drug Enforcement Administration were also recognized for their exceptional achievements in the investigation and prosecution of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.  Guzman was a principal leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexico-based international drug trafficking organization responsible for importing and distributing staggering quantities – 10s of thousands of tons - of narcotics from Central and South America into the United States over a 25-year period.  The cartel controlled significant portions of Mexico and relied upon violence and corruption to maintain its power.  Guzman directed his hitmen to kidnap, interrogate, torture and kill members of rival drug organizations, and at times he personally carried out acts of violence.  Guzman utilized a sophisticated encrypted communications network to operate the global narcotics trafficking operation.  To maintain his grip on parts of Mexico and further the interests of the cartel, Guzman took advantage of a vast network of corrupt government officials, from local law enforcement officers, prison guards and state officials, to high ranking members of the armed forces, as well as politicians.  Although indicted in multiple U.S. districts, Guzman was ultimately extradited to EDNY to face the most comprehensive case against him, alleging a 25-year continuing criminal enterprise (CCE), plus multiple substantive international narcotics trafficking and weapons charges.  Following a 12-week trial that included testimony from 56 witnesses, l4 cooperating witnesses, narcotics seizures totaling over 130,000 kilograms of cocaine and heroin, weapons, ledgers, text messages, letters, videos and intercepted recordings detailing the drug trafficking activity of Guzman and his co-conspirators, on February 12, 2019, Guzman was convicted of all counts of the superseding indictment.  On July 17, 2019, Guzman was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 30 years for his role as a leader of a CCE, a charge that included 26 drug-related violations and one murder conspiracy.  The Court also ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.  This successful prosecution was the capstone to a decades-long effort to bring Guzman to justice.

The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service

United States v. Société Générale S.A.

The recipients of the Department of Justice’s second highest award are Assistant United States Attorneys David Pitluck and James McDonald, former Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Amatruda and the members of their team from the DOJ Criminal Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service were recognized for their outstanding work in a multi-year (2012 - 2018) investigation that uncovered significant financial crimes at French multinational bank Société Générale S.A. (“SGA”), and led to a successful criminal prosecution of the bank resulting in penalties of more than $860 million.  When combined with regulatory penalties imposed in a parallel Commodity Futures Trading Commission case, the total penalties paid by SGA exceeded $l billion.  The team found and reviewed voluminous electronic and documentary material establishing violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), as well as commodities fraud through the manipulation of LIBOR.  The investigation required identifying and obtaining foreign bank records and reviewing thousands of audio recordings made by SGA employees.  In addition, the team conducted multiple international interviews and coordinated with witnesses and law enforcement authorities from an array of foreign countries to obtain the evidence that led to the successful prosecution.  As part of the FCPA case, SGA Société Générale Acceptance N.V, a subsidiary of SGA, pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the FCPA. SGA entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve the FCPA and LIBOR charges.  Notably, the FCPA prosecution team provided significant assistance to French criminal authorities to facilitate the first simultaneous resolution of an FCPA case with the French government.  These cases demonstrate the value of robust and coordinated criminal enforcement, both within the Department and with its law enforcement partners in the U.S. and abroad, and the Department's commitment to holding accountable large financial institutions that engage in corruption and manipulation in the financial markets.

United States v. Rendon Reyes

Assistant United States Attorney Maggie Lee, former Assistant United States Attorney Taryn Merkl and the members of their team from the Civil Rights Division, Criminal Section, and Homeland Security Investigations were recognized for their outstanding work in dismantling a transnational human trafficking enterprise that operated for over a decade, compelling multiple young women and girls into prostitution through deception, manipulation, sexual assault, physical violence, psychological coercion, forced abortions and threats against the victims, their families and their children.  The Rendon-Reyes prosecution team led an extensive investigation, spanning multiple U.S. and Mexican jurisdictions, utilizing victim-centered strategies to identify, stabilize and protect the victims of the trafficking organization.  The team of prosecutors, victim specialists, paralegals and special agents coordinated extensively with Mexican anti-trafficking authorities, through the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Human Trafficking Enforcement Initiative, to execute an enforcement action carried out simultaneously on both sides of the border, resulting in the arrests of all eight members of this notorious human trafficking organization.  The team went on to secure rapid extraditions of the defendants apprehended in Mexico, and convictions of all defendants charged in a 27-count indictment with multiple counts of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, involving predicate acts of sex trafficking, money laundering and related violations.  In January 2019, the prosecutions culminated in sentences of 15 to 25 years’ imprisonment for the lead defendants and restored the lives of multiple victims.


John Marzulli
United States Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated October 23, 2019