The Criminal Division is the largest division in the office. It is supervised by the Criminal Chief and three Deputy Chiefs. Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSAs) assigned to the division investigate and prosecute cases arising from a vast array of criminal activity. The division is separated into three sections. AUSAs are assigned a variety of different matters regardless of section assignment. Such matters include the following:
National Security Matters
The district’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council (ATAC) and Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) focus on preventing and investigating terrorism and national security-related crimes, such as the illegal funding of terrorist organizations, and violations of the Export Control Act and other statutes, which are designed to restrict the export of military technologies. Through the ATAC and JTTF, our office also supports frequent training initiatives for federal, state, and local law enforcement officers throughout the district.
This office is committed to reducing violent crime and prosecuting violent offenders. Many violent crimes, such as murder and rape, are state offenses handled by the local district attorneys. However, our office coordinates with state prosecutors to identify instances where federal prosecution would be appropriate. Working with federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, we recently created a new Violent Criminal Enterprises Strike Force, through which we are working to identify, investigate, and ultimately prosecute, if sufficient evidence exists, the most violent groups in our area. Second, through Operation Joint Endeavor, we work with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Baton Rouge Police Department, and the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office to identify and prioritize violations of federal gun laws by violent offenders. Third, along with the ATF and various state and local agencies, we support Project Safe Neighborhood, a long-time federal program designed to facilitate the federal prosecution of felons in possession of firearms.
This office has a strong commitment to investigating and prosecuting those who engaged in human trafficking. To more effectively prosecute such crimes, the U.S. Attorney’s Office leads a task force consisting of federal, state, and local law enforcement, and many non-governmental organizations. This coalition of federal prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, and community organizations not only endeavors to increase prosecutions of these crimes, but also to educate the public about these offenses so that victims may be identified more readily and assisted in rebuilding their lives.
The elimination of public corruption is one of this district’s highest priorities. Our office works closely with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and various other law enforcement agencies to root out such corruption. We have successfully prosecuted numerous federal, state, and local officials for abusing their official positions and are uniquely situated and experienced to handle such matters.
Health Care Fraud
Our office places an emphasis on combating health care fraud. In 2009, our office partnered with the Criminal Fraud Section of the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a Healthcare Fraud Strike Force in Baton Rouge, one of only nine in the nation. The Strike Force is comprised of prosecutors from both offices who supervise agents from the FBI, HHS-OIG, and the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office. The Strike Force has successfully prosecuted numerous healthcare providers responsible for hundreds of millions in fraudulent claims, including the recent prosecution of a $250 million scheme which resulted in 17 convictions.
Civil Rights Violations
This office is committed to pursuing civil rights violations, along with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Civil Rights cases typically involve situations when a person in a position of authority in state, local, or federal government uses his office to deprive another of his civil rights. Other instances involve hate crimes, where an individual has been victimized because of his/her race, gender, national orientation, or sexual orientation.
Sexual Exploitation of Children / Project Safe Childhood
In February 2006, the U.S. Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online sexual exploitation and abuse. In May 2011, Project Safe Childhood was expanded to encompass all federal crimes involving sexual exploitation of a minor, regardless of whether they involve the internet. The expanded initiative encompasses the commercial sexual exploitation of children, including child prostitution, the prosecution of unregistered sex offenders, and other crimes.
The office regularly handles significant narcotics prosecutions, often through the district’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF program was established to target and dismantle the highest level drug trafficking organizations operating within the United States. OCDETF is comprised of AUSAs and federal, state, and local law enforcement agents who work together using the most powerful and sophisticated investigative tools and techniques, including court-authorized wiretaps, to attack these organizations. OCDETF prosecutions are designed to eliminate entire organizations, including the sources of supply and financial networks involved in high-level drug trafficking. Investigations usually span many months and result in the arrest and indictment of many defendants. OCDETF attorneys also target significant local drug operations, including those involved in the illegal distribution of prescription drugs.
The office handles a significant number of criminal immigration matters with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Such matters generally include the illegal reentry of previously removed illegal aliens, the use and possession of fraudulent identification documents, and the illegal use and possession of firearms by illegal aliens.
Computer and Intellectual Property Crimes
This office coordinates with federal and state law enforcement agencies to prevent, investigate, and prosecute computer-related crimes, such as cases involving threats made via electronic means and computer hacking. The office also handles intellectual property theft prosecutions, including those involving foreign entities.
Fraud and Financial Crimes
This office works closely with federal, state, and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute individuals who commit bank fraud, wire and mail fraud, money laundering, theft of government funds, and a wide variety of other federal offenses.
Identity theft and identity fraud can refer to a wide variety of crimes in which someone wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal data in some way that involves fraud or deception. This office is committed to prosecuting these offenders aggressively when the criminal conduct violates federal criminal statutes and where the circumstances indicate that a federal prosecution is appropriate. Examples include cases in which the criminal has used stolen personal information to obtain bank loans, tax refunds, or other economic benefits, or stolen someone else’s identity in order to secure employment.
The office works closely with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division and other law enforcement and private partners, to identify, investigate, and prosecute tax fraud. Prosecutions range from large cases involving defendants who use business entities to commit tax fraud and/or launder the proceeds of their fraudulent schemes, to smaller cases involving tax preparers who submit numerous fraudulent tax returns to the IRS, often using stolen identities.
This office works closely with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division to investigate and pursue criminal violations of the environmental laws, such as the Clean Water Act, and Clean Air Act, and other statutes. We also coordinate with federal and state officials with regard to federal fish and wildlife laws and regulations, and assist in the enforcement of such laws when necessary.
Our office handles any appeals filed in our cases before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Such appeals are typically handled by the Appellate Chief and/or the AUSA assigned to the matter at the district court level. The Office of the U.S. Solicitor General handles all appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court.
About Our Assistant United States Attorneys
Our AUSAs come from various backgrounds. Many are Louisiana natives from Baton Rouge, Houma, Lafayette, Lake Charles, New Iberia, New Orleans, Shreveport, and other places in the state. Others are from California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Our AUSAs received their law degrees from the University of California-Hastings, Emory, George Washington, Georgetown, John Marshall, LSU, Loyola, Mercer, Mississippi, Southern, SUNY-Buffalo, Tulane, and Virginia. Many were top graduates and served on their school’s law review.
Our AUSAs include decorated veterans who served as high-ranking officers in the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Navy. Some of our AUSAs also worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Our AUSAs include former judicial law clerks for a U.S. Appellate Judge for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and U.S. District Judges sitting in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) and the Southern District of Indiana (Indianapolis). Some of our AUSAs previously worked in other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including in Chicago, Reno, Las Vegas, Montgomery, San Diego, San Jose, and Shreveport.
Our AUSAs include former military and state prosecutors, including former Judge Advocates with the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Air Force; former Assistant District Attorneys in Baton Rouge, Boston, Macon (Georgia), New Orleans, New York City, and Philadelphia; and former Deputy Attorneys General in the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office.
Our AUSAs include those who previously practiced law at private firms, including Alston & Bird in Atlanta; Archer Norris in San Francisco; Jones Walker in New Orleans; King & Spalding in Atlanta and Washington, D.C.; and Onebane in Lafayette. Another AUSA led fraud detection and prevention efforts in a private entity tasked with administering disaster-relief grant funding.