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Press Release

Attorney General Eric Holder Recognizes Northern District Of Iowa Litigation Team

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Iowa

WASHINGTON -- Several members of a litigation team led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Iowa were among 243 federal employees recognized by Attorney General Eric Holder and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director Monty Wilkinson at the 30th annual Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C.  The Iowa team received a Director’s Award for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team in recognition of their outstanding work in Operation Cedar Valley Junction.  The Iowa awardees were Assistant United States Attorneys Richard L. Murphy, Sean R. Berry, C.J. Williams, Matthew J. Cole, and Peter E. Deegan, Jr.; Paralegal Specialists Maureen C. Oviatt (Ret.) and Sali Van Weelden; Victim/Witness Coordinator Shari Konarske; Litigation Support Specialist Lee Cline Meyer; Department of Homeland Security Special Agent Michael D. Fischels; and FBI Special Agent Randy Van Gent (Ret.).

The Northern District of Iowa was one of 44 districts represented at the ceremony which was held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.

In his prepared remarks to awardees, Attorney General Holder said, “Locally, nationally, and internationally, you represent the very best that this Department has to offer.  Your work embodies our ongoing commitment – not merely to win cases, but to do justice; to protect our fellow citizens from crime, violence, and terrorism; to empower the most vulnerable among us; and to uphold the rule of law.” 

EOUSA Director Monty Wilkinson echoed those sentiments, saying to the recipients, “You have persevered, and remained focused and motivated – achieving remarkable results in work that makes a difference in the lives of citizens across our great country. The vast scope of your collective accomplishments is nothing short of exceptional.”

Operation Cedar Valley Junction was a successful investigation and prosecution of corporate wrongdoers in Northern Iowa.  In 2008, immigration agents conducted a worksite enforcement action at Agriprocessors, Inc.  The investigation into the corporation revealed instances of child labor and wage and hour violations.  The team also discovered the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) had been defrauding Agriprocessors’ primary lender in several ways resulting in a $27 million financial fraud.  A four-week jury trial and conviction of the company’s CEO for an array of financial crimes culminated in a 27-year sentence. 

“I join Attorney General Holder and Director Wilkinson in congratulating the Cedar Valley Junction team on their receipt of this prestigious award.”

EOUSA provides oversight, general executive assistance, and direction to the 94 United States Attorneys’ offices around the country. For more information on EOUSA and its mission, visit

Updated February 19, 2015