17 Eastern District of New York Employees and Two Former Assistant U.S. Attorneys Receive 2022 and 2023 Attorney General Awards
WASHINGTON – Fourteen Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs), two paralegal specialists, a Special Agent and two former AUSAs from the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) were recognized by Attorney General Merrick B. Garland for their extraordinary public service at the 70th and 71st Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. Recipients from both 2022 and 2023 were selected from a group of more than 800 nominees.
“Each of today’s recipients has served with distinction, and in so doing, they have enabled the Justice Department to advance its work on behalf of the American people,” stated Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “Their exceptional leadership, heroism, and dedication have benefited people and communities across the country.”
“The outstanding work of EDNY attorneys, professional staff and our law enforcement partners in service to our district and our country, has been breathtaking, prosecuting complex economic crime, high-level drug trafficking, foreign terrorism, insurrection, cybercriminals and litigating the expert defense of our cases appealed to the Second Circuit,” stated United States Attorney Breon Peace. “Their excellence and dedication are boundless, and as a result, they have made the world, a safer place.”
This year’s program honors individuals across the department and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners for their selfless efforts, protecting our national security and our civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, and prosecuting gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings. The awards also honor the work of 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.
70th Annual Attorney General Awards
The Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Work in the Investigation, Extradition and Prosecution of ISIS Senior Leader
United States v. Kandic
AUSAs Matt Haggans and Saritha Komatireddy, former AUSA Josh Hafetz and Paralegal Specialist Huda Abouchaer, together with law enforcement partners from the FBI and HSI, are being recognized for their outstanding work obtaining a trial conviction of Mirsad Kandic of Brooklyn, on charges of conspiring to provide, and providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). Kandic was a high-ranking member of ISIS, a designated foreign terrorist organization. He had multiple responsibilities within ISIS, including recruiting foreign fighters, trafficking foreign fighters from the West through Turkey and into Syria, and obtaining weapons, military equipment, maps, money and false identifications for ISIS fighters. In carrying out these responsibilities, Kandic worked directly with ISIS emirs and battlefield commanders.
The Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for 35 Years of Outstanding Work in Litigating Criminal Cases Before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals
AUSA David James
Throughout AUSA David James’s 35-year career with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, he has represented the government in the Second Circuit in hundreds of cases with skill and dedication. He has worked on some of the most significant and important appeals of the last few decades, from John Gotti in 1993 to Joaquin Guzman-Loera, aka “El Chapo,” in 2022.
The Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional and Successful Work in the Trial Against Roger Ng
United States v. Roger Ng
AUSAs Alixandra Smith, Drew Rolle and Dylan Stern, in partnership with colleagues from DOJ’s Fraud Section and Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, are recognized for securing the trial conviction of Roger Ng, a former managing director of the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (Goldman Sachs) for his role in a multibillion-dollar bribery and money laundering scheme involving Malaysia’s state-owned investment and development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad. As part of the scheme, Ng and his co-conspirators, including Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia Chairman and participating managing director of Goldman Sachs, paid more than $1 billion in bribes to 12 government officials in Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates to obtain and retain lucrative business for Goldman Sachs. They also conspired to, and did, launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the U.S. financial system, including funding major Hollywood films such as “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurism and Dedication in the Criminal Prosecution in the Digital Advertising Industry Inflicted by Foreign Cybercriminals
United States v. Zhukov
AUSAs Saritha Komatireddy, Alex Mindlin and Artie McConnell brought a first-of-its-kind prosecution, exposing rampant fraud in the digital advertising industry inflicted by foreign cybercriminals seeking to steal from American companies and weaken American economic power. This case exposed a fraud that affected nearly every American business and consumer and converted America’s own internet infrastructure and innovations into weapons for cybercrime. The prosecution led to significant reforms and increased security controls among digital advertising platforms, cybersecurity companies and the entities that run the global registration system for IP addresses. The team secured the indictment of 10 cybercriminals from two separate international cybercrime rings and the conviction of five of those cybercriminals, including the leader of each ring.
71st Annual Attorney General Awards
Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service
U.S. v. Garcia Luna Trial Team
AUSAs Saritha Komatireddy, Phil Pilmar, Adam Amir, Erin Reid and Ryan Harris, EDNY Special Agent George Dietz, Paralegal Specialists Huda Abouchaer and Melissa Bennett, together with law enforcement partners from DEA and HSI, successfully investigated and obtained a trial conviction against the former Mexican cabinet official Genaro Garcia Luna for his corrupt assistance to the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the largest and most violent criminal organizations in the world. Garcia Luna is the highest-ranking Mexican government official to have been prosecuted in a U.S. court. The six-week trial included testimony from high-level Sinaloa Cartel leaders, Mexican public officials who had themselves engaged in corruption, former Mexican law enforcement officers who worked under Garcia Luna, and a former U.S. Ambassador.
Operation Disruptive Capture
United States v. Orekhov et al. and United States v. Grinin et al.
AUSAs Artie McConnell and Madeline O’Connor and SAUSA Scott Claffee teamed with law enforcement partners from FBI and DOJ task forces to disrupt Russia’s ability to illegally acquire sensitive U.S. technology and enforce sanctions imposed on Russia for their invasion of Ukraine. The initiative resulted in two indictments involving charging 15 defendants and arrests in Germany, Italy, Estonia, and France. The investigation also led to administrative enforcement actions, civil forfeiture involving millions of dollars in multiple foreign jurisdictions, and additional sanctions against individuals and companies.
The Attorney General’s Award for Excellence in Furthering the Interests of U.S. National Security Operation Medusa
Former AUSA Ian Richardson
Through Operation MEDUSA, former EDNY AUSA Ian Richardson, together with the FBI, completed a court-authorized operation to disrupt a global peer-to-peer network of computers compromised by sophisticated malware, called “Snake,” that the United States Government attributes to a unit within Center 16 of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation. For nearly 20 years, this unit, referred to in court documents as “Turla,” used versions of the Snake malware to steal sensitive documents from hundreds of computer systems in at least 50 countries, which have belonged to North Atlantic Treaty Organization member governments, journalists, and other targets of interest to the Russian Federation. After stealing these documents, Turla exfiltrated them through a covert network of unwitting Snake-compromised computers in the United States and around the world. Operation MEDUSA disabled Turla’s Snake malware on compromised computers through the use of an FBI-created tool named PERSEUS, which issued commands that caused the Snake malware to overwrite its own vital components.
January 6th Proud Boys Prosecution Team
AUSA Nadia Moore
EDNY AUSA Nadia Moore was a vital member of the trial team, which included prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. and the Organized Crime and Gang Section, and agents from the FBI, that secured convictions against five members of the Proud Boys for their actions before and during the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. According to the trial evidence, in the months leading up to Jan. 6, the defendants plotted to oppose by force the lawful transfer of presidential power, and to prevent the Members of Congress, and the federal law enforcement officers who protect them, from discharging their duties.
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney's Office