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Criminal Division

Sean Costello, Chief

Kasee Heisterhagen, Deputy Chief
Kacey Chappelear, Deputy Chief

The Criminal Division is the largest of the District’s divisions. Assistant United States Attorneys in this Division work closely with agents and officers from a variety of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute individuals and organizations who violate federal criminal laws. Attorneys in the Criminal Division investigate and prosecute a wide variety of criminal offenses. Some of the areas the Criminal Division focuses on are include:

  • Bank Fraud - investigation and prosecution of crimes involving federally insured financial institutions, such as banks, savings and loans, or credit unions; typically, embezzlements, false loan applications and false bank entries.
  • Bankruptcy Fraud – in coordination with the Civil Division, investigation and prosecution of fraudulent filings in the bankruptcy court; fraudulent transfers of assets; failure to file accurate schedules and statements with the bankruptcy court and false statements in bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Civil Rights - investigation and prosecution of criminal violations of federal civil rights, including allegations of police misconduct and violations of the federal hate crimes statute. This office works with the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Section in these cases
  • Crimes in Indian Country - In coordination with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Police force, investigation and prosecution of federal crimes committed within tribal jurisdiction. This office has an  posted to this website that fully describes this effort.
  • Computer Crimes - investigation and prosecution of crimes in which the information contained in a federally protected computer is attacked, cases in which fraud is perpetrated using computers or cases in which the computer is used to send threatening communications.
  • Environmental Crimes - investigation and prosecution of environmental crimes, including violations of the Clean Water Act; violations of Resource Conservation Recovery Act or the Clean Air Act. The office participates in a task force with all state and federal agencies charged with maintaining and protecting the environment.
  • Fraud Against the Government - investigation and prosecution of cases in which a federal program is defrauded. Cases include false applications for federal benefits, involving Social Security, Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration and Department of Agriculture.
  • Health Care Fraud - investigation and prosecution of major health care fraud matters involving false billings and other schemes that victimize patients, the Food and Drug Administration, health care providers, private insurers, and government insurers such as Medicare and Medicaid.
  • Immigration Crimes – investigation and prosecution of fraud and illegal re-entry cases including marriage and passport fraud, as well as identity theft and prosecution of aliens who have illegally re-entered the United States without permission after being ordered deported.
  • Public Corruption - investigation and prosecution of government officials and private citizens working with officials who violate the public trust by benefiting personally from official actions or inaction.
  • Tax Fraud - investigation and prosecution of cases involving the preparation or filing of false or fraudulent federal income tax returns and failure to file required returns.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force

The Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) is responsible for the identification, investigation and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. To accomplish this mission, the OCDETF focuses on investigations that are likely to result in the identification of links to major drug trafficking organizations. Once the organizations are identified, the Task Force uses the most sophisticated investigative techniques available such as pen registers, cell phone tracking and global positioning systems, as well as the extensive use of the grand jury, search warrants and wire interceptions. Money laundering charges and asset forfeiture are widely used by OCDETF.


Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and providing those programs with additional tools to fit the specific gun crime problems in each area. The goal is to create safer neighborhoods by reducing gun violence and sustaining that reduction. In the Southern District of Alabama, federal agents and task force officers from state and local agencies work with attorneys to investigate and prosecute violent crimes involving firearms; individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms, including convicted felons, aliens illegally or unlawfully in the United States; those subject to restraining orders; and individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.


Project Safe Childhood is a national initiative designed to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the Department of Justice, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet. Project Safe Childhood program has been at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting individuals who commit offenses involving child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation. In addition to successful investigations and prosecutions, Project Safe Childhood prosecutors are actively involved in community outreach projects, educating the general public about the dangers sexual predators pose on the Internet and other cyber-issues facing our children today.


Forfeiting the proceeds and instrumentalities of illegal activity is a key tool in dismantling criminal enterprises, deterring future crime, and restoring losses to victims. In every investigation, AUSA’s in the District analyze the evidence necessary to prove the government's case and conduct a parallel financial analysis to determine whether anyone has financially profited from illegal conduct. When appropriate, AUSA’s use the federal forfeiture statutes to ensure that crime does not pay.


Updated June 6, 2022