U.S. Attorney Carpenito Restructures Office To Add Additional Resources To Quality Of Life Issues Facing New Jersey Citizens
NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced today that he is reorganizing the District of New Jersey office to add additional resources to areas that are vital to the health and safety of the people of New Jersey.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito said this new structure will take best advantage of the depth and breadth of experience of the 130 Assistant U.S. Attorneys that staff the Newark, Trenton and Camden offices and focus their work on areas of criminal and civil enforcement that will pay the biggest dividends in protecting the public.
“After spending the past six weeks conducting an in-depth review of our operations, meeting with federal and state law enforcement leaders from across the state, and working closely with the Department of Justice, I have identified several areas of criminal activity where we need to intensify our efforts,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “This sharpened focus will help us get the most dangerous criminals off our streets, address the ongoing opioid epidemic in our state, and stop the hackers and identity thieves who prey on our residents.”
U.S. Attorney Carpenito announced the following strategic changes in how the office will be organized:
• Three new units in the Criminal Division:
o Opioid Abuse Prevention and Enforcement – Among the first stand-alone units of its kind in the country, this unit will work with the existing Health Care and Government Fraud Unit and the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Unit to target everyone who is making a living on these dangerous and addictive drugs, from the people who are running street-level distribution networks, to the doctors and pharmacists who turn a blind eye to over-prescribing and phony prescriptions, to the manufacturers and distributors who abdicate their responsibility to ensure these medications are being used lawfully. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (66 percent) involve an opioid. In 2016, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioids and heroin) was five times higher than in 1999. From 2000 to 2016, more than 600,000 people died from drug overdoses. On average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. This unit will be enhanced by two Special U.S. Attorneys from the N.J. Office of the Attorney General, part of a joint state/federal effort to combat the growing problem of opioid abuse.
“U.S. Attorney Carpenito and I have forged a partnership dedicated to preventing illegal narcotics and prescription painkillers from flowing unchecked into our communities,” N.J. Attorney General Grewal said. “This collaboration of state and federal law enforcement allows us to share resources and strategies to identify, apprehend, and prosecute drug traffickers, unscrupulous doctors, and others who profit from the suffering and death caused by opioid addiction.”
o Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit – According to national crime data from the FBI, New Jersey’s homicide rate per 100,000 people rose from 3.9 to 4.2 and the rape rate rose from 10.7 to 16.2 between 2014 and 2016. The new Violent Crimes Enforcement Unit will work together with the Organized Crime/Gangs Unit to address these trends by targeting seven strategic areas:
- Federal Interest Murder/Major Violent Crimes
- Gang prosecution
- Gun Trafficking
- Armed Bank Robberies
- Hobbs Act Robberies
- Human trafficking
o Cyber Crime Prevention and Enforcement – The attorneys in this unit are responsible for some of the most complex investigations the office handles, dealing with the unique and ever-changing issues presented by computer and communications technologies. Computer hacking, mass identity theft, ATM hacking – this unit will partner with the National Security and Economic Crimes units to focus on those cases and other emerging illegal uses of technology. In addition to litigating their own cases, they will provide their support and special expertise to federal and state partners as needed. The most recent report from the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center found that, nationally, there were an average of 280,000 complaints per year from 2010 through 2016, and in 2016, the number of complaints reached 298,728, resulting in victim losses of $1.33 billion in that year alone. That same year, New Jersey received 6,690 complaints (13th in the nation), resulting in losses to victims of $24.5 million (11th in the nation.)
• A fourth unit, the current General Crimes Unit, will be recast as the Public Protection Unit. This unit will lead the office’s realignment with the Department of Justice’s renewed focus on the Project Safe Neighborhoods program, a nationwide strategy for using existing resources to most effectively combat violent crime in partnership with state and local law enforcement and the communities we serve. The unit handles any and all types of crime, but in this restructuring, the focus will be on criminals who prey on the public, including those who commit violent crimes and white collar scams, human trafficking and child exploitation.
“The changes I am announcing today will enhance our ability to do our most important job – protecting the public – more efficiently and with greater impact,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “They will align our office with the priorities outlined and implemented by Attorney General Sessions and the Department of Justice. Of course, the office will continue to focus on all areas of federal interest, including national security, economic crimes, federal taxes, political corruption, civil rights, health care and government frauds.”
“The FBI dedicates significant resources in combating violent crime, cybercrime and the alarming rise in opioid abuse,” Special Agent In Charge of the FBI Newark Division Timothy Gallagher said. “We strongly support U.S. Attorney Carpenito’s focus to get the most dangerous drugs and criminals off our streets, particularly those who intend on defrauding our citizens and praying on the young and old. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, so together we can make our state a safer place for our citizens.”
Valerie A. Nickerson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division said, “The men and women of the Drug Enforcement Administration work tirelessly to combat the current opioid epidemic in New Jersey. We look forward to the opportunity to continue our work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office to investigate and prosecute those who continue to profit off of the misery that this epidemic has caused.”
“We look forward to expanding upon our great working relationship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent in Charge John Devito said. “With this reorganization, both ATF and the USAO will be better situated to protect the citizens of New Jersey and mitigate the risk that violent crime poses to the public.”
U.S. Attorney Carpenito also announced new leadership of the office:
The First Assistant U.S. Attorney will be Rachael Honig, who is rejoining the office from the private sector. She worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for 14 years, most recently as Counsel to the U.S. Attorney. The Executive Assistant to the U.S. Attorney is Zach Intrater, who has been with the office for eight years in the Criminal Division, most recently as Deputy Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit. The Acting Counsel to the U.S. Attorney is Caroline Sadlowski, who has been with the office for 15 years, including nine years in the Appeals Division and six years in the Civil Division. Most recently, she was chief of the Civil Division. The Deputy U.S. Attorney, overseeing the Trenton and Camden Vicinages, is Thomas J. Eicher, who has been with the office more than 14 years, most recently as Chief of the Criminal Division.
“Let me be clear: The U.S. Attorneys’ Office for the District of New Jersey has a long and proud history,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “Every U.S. Attorney who has sat in this seat has inherited a great office, and then worked to make it even better before handing it off to his or her successor. I intend to be no different. The changes I am announcing today are my first steps in making this office stronger and more successful.”