Ten Eastern District of New York Employees and One Former Assistant United States Attorney Receive Attorney General Awards
WASHINGTON – Nine Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA), one paralegal specialist and a former AUSA from the Eastern District of New York (EDNY) were among the 244 department employees recognized by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for their distinguished public service today at the 66th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. Thirty-six 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. This year’s awards ceremony included an award for exceptional heroism to U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector Basilio S. Perez, Jr., for his courageous actions to protect and aid victims of the October 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“Service in the Department of Justice is more than a normal job; it is a calling to the highest standards of professionalism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “That is true for all of the 115,000 Department of Justice employees. But it is especially true for these award winners. And so I want to thank them and their families for their exemplary service to this Department and to the American people. They have made this Department proud.”
“The outstanding work of EDNY prosecutors, working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, exposed an international culture of corruption within organized soccer, dismantled a fraud scheme that victimized the elderly and held responsible the brutal killers of a heroic federal agent,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “The wide scope of the achievements recognized today demonstrates that this Office will pursue justice for the people of the Eastern District of New York wherever the evidence takes us.”
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 going after 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.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Keith D. Edelman, Kaitlin T. Farrell, M. Kristin Mace, Brian D. Morris and Samuel P. Nitze, Paralegal Specialist Sherene Watson and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul A. Tuchmann, together with their team of FBI and IRS Special Agents, were recognized for their path-breaking investigative and prosecutorial work in combating an entrenched culture of corruption at the highest levels of organized soccer in the United States and around the world and the accompanying abuse of the U.S. financial system. The case was the first to use the RICO and wire fraud statutes to attack corruption in international sports organizations and involved an extraordinary array of investigative techniques, complex tracing and analysis of foreign and domestic money flows, and unprecedented coordination and collaboration with foreign law enforcement authorities. In addition to more than 20 convictions secured through guilty pleas, the team secured convictions of José Maria Marin, a former president of the Brazilian soccer federation, perhaps the most powerful soccer federation in the world, and Juan Angel Napout, the president of CONMEBOL, the regional confederation that oversees soccer in South America, after a six-week trial conducted in November and December 2017.
Elder Fraud Sweep
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael J. Castiglione, Evan P. Lestelle and John Vagelatos were recognized for their outstanding contributions to the 2018 national Elder Fraud Sweep. The sweep was the largest operation in U.S. history targeting fraud on the elderly. The team both independently and in coordination with the Consumer Protection Branch of DOJ and the United States Postal Inspection Service, investigated and filed some of the sweep’s biggest cases. The EDNY team filed four civil actions and obtained temporary restraining orders against 24 individual and corporate defendants for operating multi-million dollar international mail fraud schemes that targeted elderly and vulnerable victims. The team obtained permanent consent judgments against defendants in three of the actions and, in the final action, has obtained a permanent consent judgment against several of the defendants and preliminary injunctions against the remaining defendants while the case is being actively litigated.
Los Zetas – “Operation Fallen Hero”
Senior Litigation Counsel Andrea Goldbarg and a team of Trial Attorneys and AUSAs from the DOJ Organized Crime and Gangs Section, DOJ Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia were recognized for their extraordinary efforts and commitment in the prosecution of Los Zetas Mexican Cartel Members. Members of the cartel brutally murdered Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent Jaime Zapata and wounded HSI Special Agent Victor Avila on February 15, 2011, during an attempted car-jacking on a highway south of San Luis Potosi, Mexico. The HSI Special Agents were on an official mission in an armored SUV when a Zetas “hit” squad attacked the vehicle. Deploying immediately after the attack, the team pursued every evidentiary lead and soon began filing charges against the perpetrators. After the attack and over the following six years, seven defendants were extradited to the United States, five of whom pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. Two defendants proceeded to trial. On July 27, 2017, after a three-week trial, a jury convicted two defendants of, among other crimes, murder and attempted murder of an officer or employee of the United States. Both trial defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment.
United States Attorney’s Office