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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 20, 2014

Five NDCA Assistant United States Attorneys Among Fifty Seven Recipients Of The California Lawyer Attorneys Of The Year Award

SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Office, Assistant United States Attorneys Hartley M.K. West, Philip J. Kearney, John H. Hemann, Susan E. Badger, and Stacey P. Geis, have been chosen among 57 attorneys around the state to receive the 18th Annual California Lawyer Attorneys of the Year Award. The honored attorneys include prosecutors, public-interest lawyers, and attorneys from regional and international law firms. The recipients of the CLAY Awards will be featured in the March 2014 issue of California Lawyer.

“Federal prosecutors work hard every day to keep the public safe. We are proud of the accomplishments of these Assistant United States Attorneys and congratulate them and all the other honorees for this well-deserved award,” said United States Attorney, Melinda Haag.

Regarding the CNET/Butler cases for which AUSAs West, Kearney, Hemann and Badger were honored, Ms. Haag said: “Color of law civil rights cases are difficult to investigate and prove, but AUSAs take their responsibility for enforcing our civil rights laws seriously. These four AUSAs all worked extraordinarily hard to see that justice was done, and to send the message that we cannot tolerate corrupt law enforcement officers who bring dishonor to the badge and cavalierly violate the rights of people they are sworn to defend and protect.”

Regarding the Wal-Mart case for which Ms. Geis was honored (along with Central District of California AUSA Joseph O. Johns), Ms. Haag added: “The Wal-Mart case resolution provided the seed money for the creation of the San Francisco Bay Estuary Conservation Fund that will fund Bay Area environmental projects going forward. Wal-Mart’s guilty plea shows Ms. Geis’ dedication to bringing one of the largest retailers in the United States to justice for failing to comply with regulations designed to ensure the proper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous materials and waste.”

The Assistant United States Attorneys and their achievements are briefly described below.

Hartley M.K. West, Philip J. Kearney, John H. Hemann, and Susan E. Badger, U.S. Attorney’s Office, San Francisco
Category: Criminal Law

This team of federal prosecutors brought dozens of civil rights and corruption charges against the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team and four police officers which resulted in several convictions.

This team of federal prosecutors brought dozens of civil rights and corruption charges against the Central Contra Costa Narcotics Enforcement Team and four police officers which resulted in several convictions. This included the prosecutions of former CNET Commander Norman Wielsch and private investigator Christopher Butler for civil rights and narcotics conspiracies, narcotics distribution, extortion, and robbery; former Richmond Police Officers Danny Harris, Jr. and Raymond Thomas, Jr. on firearms and obstruction of justice charges in connection with running a private security business on the side; former San Ramon Police Officer Louis Lombardi for stealing money and property during searches that he performed as a law enforcement officer; and former Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriff Stephen Tanabe for honest services fraud and extortion for arranging “stings” against men involved in child custody disputes in exchange for cocaine and a firearm provided by private investigator Butler. As a result of these prosecutions, these corrupt law enforcement officers sustained felony convictions, lost their jobs, and are serving sentences imposed by the Court.

Stacey P. Geis, U.S. Attorney’s Office, San Francisco
Joseph O. Johns, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Los Angeles
Category: Environmental Law

Johns and Geis successfully prosecuted Walmart Stores Inc. for illegally handling and disposing of hazardous waste throughout the country, resulting in the company pleading guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and paying more than more than $81 million, with $20 million used to fund various community service projects, including opening a $6 million Retail Compliance Assistance Center that will help retail stores across the nation learn how to properly handle hazardous waste and $4.5 million to go to the newly-created San Francisco Bay Estuary Conservation Fund that will fund Bay Area environmental projects. According to documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, from a date unknown until January 2006, Wal-Mart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level – including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system – or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.

 

Updated November 18, 2014