U.S. Attorney General Recognizes Three Employees of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Mexico
ALBUQUERQUE – Assistant U.S. Attorneys Tara C. Neda and Timothy S. Vasquez and Director of Administration Ruth M. Cox of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Mexico were among the 244 members of the Department of Justice 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 District of New Mexico 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.”
Ms. Neda received her Director’s Award for her outstanding prosecution of United States v. Armando Gutierrez, Joseph Kupfer and Elizabeth Kupfer, on charges arising out of the theft of $2.5 million in federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funds. In fall 2010, Ms. Neda assumed responsibility for the federal prosecution after related state charges met procedural roadblocks and subsequently were dismissed. Ms. Neda obtained an indictment in December 2010 and a superseding indictment in July 2011, shortly before the statute of limitations expired. After the case was bifurcated for trial purposes, she obtained guilty verdicts against the defendants in two trials.
Ms. Cox received the Executive Achievement Award for her 24 years of service to the Justice Department and the District of New Mexico. During her 14 years as the Director of Administration, Ms. Cox has been universally respected for her integrity, dedication, and leadership, as well as her commitment to the professional development and well-being of the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) staff. Ms. Cox worked her way up to the Director of Administration position from a secretarial position, during which time she completed a college degree in a field that has enhanced her value to the Department and the USAO.
Mr. Vasquez, who recently transferred to the USAO in New Mexico from the District of Nevada, was recognized for the prosecution of Nicholas Bickle and his co-conspirators in that district on charges arising from their illegal possession and sale of military firearms. Bickle, then a Navy SEAL, used his position to smuggle scores of military firearms into the United States when his unit redeployed from Iraq. Those firearms included dozens of AK-47 style machine guns (many bearing markings of Iraq’s armed forces), other machine guns, and multiple semi-automatic pistols which the United States had previously procured for Iraq’s security forces. Bickle and his co-conspirators transported most of those weapons from California to Nevada and Colorado where they sold them to an undercover ATF task force agent posing as an illicit firearms dealer. After his co-defendants pled guilty, Bickle was convicted following a three-week trial and sentenced to 17 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez applauded the Justice Department’s recognition of the work performed by Ms. Neda, Ms. Cox and Mr. Vasquez, and said, “The work for which these three public servants were recognized today embodies the Justice Department’s commitment to do justice, protect our fellow citizens from crime and violence, and to uphold the rule of law while adhering to the highest standards of professionalism. I am proud to count each of them as a colleague and partner.”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.