Baeppler, Pendergrass honored with Director's Awards
WASHINGTON – Assistant United States Attorney Michelle Baeppler and Victim/Witness Specialist Darla Pendergrass were one of 162 members of the Department of Justice recognized by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director James Crowell, IV at the 34th Director’s Awards Ceremony Friday in Washington D.C.
The Northern District of Ohio was one of 35 districts represented at the ceremony which was held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.
In addressing the award recipients and guests, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said, “Today’s honorees earned the esteem of their colleagues. But most importantly, they earned the gratitude of our fellow citizens — the people whose communities you made safer, whose lives you improved, and whose trust you rewarded. Today, we pause to honor and recognize a small portion of your work.”
“Michelle and Darla represent the very best of our office and the Justice Department,” said U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman. “They work daily to seek justice for crime victims, whether that means using social media postings to prosecute someone urging violence against the members of our military or holding the hand of the victim of a life-altering act of violence.
Baeppler, along with former Assistant U.S Attorney Christos Georgalis Trial Attorney Jennifer Levy from the Justice Department’s Counter Terrorism Section, received an award for Superior Performance in Criminal Matters.
The trio was honored for their groundbreaking work in United States v. McNeil. McNeil, of Akron, posted the names and addresses of more than 100 members of the military urging supporters of the Islamic State to behead, stab and otherwise attack the service members.
McNeil is serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to five counts of solicitation to commit a crime of violence and five counts of making threatening interstate communications.
Pendergrass will receive an award for Superior Performance in a Litigation Support Role for her work on a number of cases last year involving sensitive victim-witness issues.
Among the cases Pendergrass was assigned to was the prosecuting the shooting of young woman in Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The victim survived but sustained serious injuries. With Pendergrass’ support, she was able to confront her attacker, who is serving a life sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder, discharging a firearm during a crime of violence and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
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 http://www.justice.gov/usao.