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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Heroin and Opioid Task Force recognized with Attorney General's Award

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

The U.S. Attorney’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force will be honored later this year with the Attorney General’s Award, the highest honor given by the Justice Department.

The Task Force will receive the Attorney General’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Community Partnerships for Public Safety. This award recognizes outstanding achievement in the development and support of community partnerships designed to address public safety within a community. The award recognizes the significant contributions of citizens and organizations that have assisted the Department in the accomplishment of these programs.

The U.S. Attorney’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force was established in 2013 to address the region’s expanding epidemic. The group brings together a diverse group of stakeholders, including law enforcement, the medical community, people in recovery, treatment professionals, judges, public health professionals, educators and others. It focuses on solutions from four perspectives: law enforcement; education and prevention; healthcare policy; and treatment.

Successes to which members of the group have contributed include: working to make Narcan more readily available; presentations to tens of thousands of parents, students and other members of the community at hundreds of town hall meetings and schools; increased training for doctors and other medical professionals about the dangers of opioids; the creation of a heroin-involved death investigation team that treats overdoses as crime scenes, with the goal of filing enhanced criminal charges for dealers when appropriate; and working to increase the availability of drug treatment, among others.

“It is easy to become discouraged about the wave of death and pain that opioids and heroin bring to our community,” said U.S. Attorney Carole Rendon, who chairs the Task Force. “But I know the incredible efforts of all the members of this team make a difference on a daily basis. This approach has become a national model and I know, through hard work, dedication and persistence, we will eventually overcome this threat.”

This comprehensive approach has served as a model and is being replicated by several U.S. Attorney’s Offices around the country.

Members of the Task Force include the Cleveland Clinic, the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, the Ohio Attorney General, Orca House, WKYC Channel 3, the Cleveland Division of Police, the DEA, the FBI, the Ohio State Medical Board, the Ohio State Pharmacy Board, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner, University Hospitals, the ADAMHS Board and others.

While scores of people have made significant contributions to this effort, the number of people who can be individually honored is capped at 15. Those people are:

  • Philip Angelo, Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department
  • Vincent Caraffi, Cuyahoga County Board of Health
  • Todd DeKatch, Supervisory Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Dr. Thomas Gilson, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner
  • Gary Gingell, Commander, Cleveland Division of Police
  • Dr. Jason Jerry, Cleveland Clinic
  • Aaron Marks, member of the recovery community
  • Keith Martin, Resident Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Judge David Matia, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
  • Dr. Joan Papp, MetroHealth Medical Center
  • Joseph M. Pinjuh, U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • Hugh Shannon, Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office
  • Judge Joan Synenberg, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
  • Craig A. Tame, U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • Mike Tobin, U.S. Attorney’s Office

The Attorney General’s Award Ceremony will be held on Thursday, November 10, 2016, at 1:30 p.m. at DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20006. 


Updated September 22, 2016

Community Outreach
Drug Trafficking