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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, May 15, 2020

U.S. Attorney Honors Law Enforcement Officials with “Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice” Awards

Senior Mgt. Counsel and Law Enforcement Coordinator Cindy Cipriani (619) 546-9608    

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – May 15, 2020

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer today announced the 2020 recipients of the third annual “Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice” awards, which honor 77 federal, state and local law enforcement officers for their work on cases in San Diego and Imperial counties.

Recipients were selected in a number of categories, including Lifetime Achievement, Exceptional Service, Cases of the Year, Investigations of the Year, Community Impact, and Collaboration. The Lifetime Achievement Award was given to U.S. Border Patrol Assistant Chief Chancy L. Arnold, the longest-serving Border Patrol agent in the United States.

“I greatly respect the crime-solving and life-saving efforts of the incredible law enforcement community in San Diego and Imperial counties,” said U.S. Attorney Brewer. “These awards celebrate the diligence, courage and extraordinary character of these recipients, all of whom were nominated by prosecutors in this office. During this unprecedented time of global pandemic, our award ceremony will not be held in person this year. I regret that I cannot express my gratitude to these deserving honorees directly – but I am giving them a virtual standing ovation.” Some of the recipients honored for “Cases of the Year” include U.S. Border Patrol agents who were confronted by an armed assailant on November 26, 2018. According to court records, Hector Rodriguez-Chavez pointed a loaded gun at one of the agents, and in a split-second decision, the agent grabbed Chavez's weapon and wrestled it out of his hands. Another agent, Patrick Powers, assisted by deploying his taser, and the agents were able to arrest Rodriguez-Chavez.

FBI agents, including Brian Loveland, were assigned the investigation. Hector Rodriguez-Chavez pleaded guilty in September 2019 and was sentenced in February 2020 in federal court to 141 months in prison.

The nomination said: “The agents’ quick, disciplined action at a critical moment avoided bloodshed and saved both their own and the defendant's lives. This was followed by a thorough investigation, which delivered a just result and reflected law enforcement at its professional best.”

The awards are presented to agents and officers who demonstrated creativity, initiative, and persistence to achieve justice in difficult cases, including major opioid and methamphetamine investigations, gun prosecutions, immigration fraud and even action on the high seas chasing drug traffickers.

“Each one of these award recipients has shown an exceptional dedication to the pursuit of justice for victims and to the safety of our community, and for that I am extremely proud and grateful,” Brewer said. “These are demanding and dangerous jobs that all too often go unappreciated. Agents and officers put their lives on the line because they want to make a difference. We need to give them support and sincere appreciation for their service and sacrifice.”

Exceptional Service awards were given to FBI Agent Bradlee Godshall for investigation of environmental crimes; Tom Eilers, Director, Imperial County Law Enforcement Coordination Center, for his years of leadership; and Bryan Chehock of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration for his work to address the opioid epidemic.

Today also marks National Peace Officers Memorial Day, as well as the conclusion of National Police Week, which commemorate the courage and selflessness of law enforcement officers throughout our nation. Sadly, it is also a time to honor and pay tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in the line of duty last year and whose names were engraved this year on the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.  It is particularly appropriate to honor our fallen heroes now, given the significant risks our brave first responders face during this pandemic.  As of May 7, 2020, the Fraternal Order of Police reports that 92 law enforcement officers have died from the Coronavirus nationwide.

For a list of award recipients, please see the table below.

           2020 Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice Awards

 

Award Title

Awardee

Agency

Background

Case Name/ Investigation

Lifetime Service Award

Chancy L. Arnold

U.S. Border Patrol

Chancy has dedicated his entire career to public service, and he demonstrated a level of commitment and leadership that has made him a role model for many junior Border Patrol officers.  Chancy, who has the distinction of being the longest serving Border Patrol agent in the United States, has increased the safety of our community and the security of our nation.

 

Exceptional Service Award

Bradlee Godshall

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

Agent Godshall’s leadership led to the successful investigations of 53 defendants for environmental crimes, including seven cases that went to trial.

 

Exceptional Service Award

Tom Eilers

Imperial Valley LECC – HIDTA

Director Eilers effectively coordinated numerous state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies in the fight against narcotics trafficking and deadly fentanyl in Imperial Valley.

 

Exceptional Service Award

Bryan Chehock

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)

Chehock, a DEA attorney, crafted a successful argument that persuaded the court to allow DEA to get records of opioid prescriptions using administrative means rather than a search warrant. This information is essential in the fight against the opioid epidemic.

United States v. California; et al.

Case of the Year

Carlo Petersen

Aron Marcellus

Tyler Mower

Paul Hernandez

Alvaro Arauz

Juan Bribiesca

Ramon Villarreal

Homeland Security Inv. (HSI)

HSI

HSI

HSI

U.S. Border Patrol

U.S. Border Patrol

U.S. Border Patrol

Thanks to this team’s successful and effective collaboration, immigration fraud was prevented and an infant is in safer hands.

U.S. v. Cesar Augusto Cordova-Montoya

19CR2358-LAB
 

Case of the Year

Brian Loveland

Patrick Powers

FBI

U.S. Border Patrol

The agents’ quick, disciplined action at a critical moment avoided bloodshed and saved both their own and the defendant's lives. This was followed by a thorough investigation, which delivered a just result and reflected law enforcement at its professional best. 

U.S. v Hector Rodriguez-Chavez

Case of the Year

Michael Prince

Brendan P. Biamon

Travis C. Olmsted

Michael Boady

FBI

FBI

FBI

FBI

This team worked quickly to seek forfeiture orders that returned wrongfully wired funds to two universities and followed up to ensure that defendant was extradited to the United States.

U.S. v. Amil Raage

18CR4858-GPC

Case of the Year

David Senness

U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs-OIG

Agent Senness helped to protect contracts intended for veterans and created a model playbook for procurement fraud prosecutions.

 

 

U.S. v. Andrew Otero; et al

17CR-0879-JAH

15CV-0441-JAH

Case of the Year

Brandon L. Pullen

Jeffrey Wight

Adam W. Welzant

Caroline E. Miller

Jordan D. Groff

Scott D. Rogers

K. Channing Meyer

DEA

DEA

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

U.S. Coast Guard

This team exemplified decisive action on the high seas and superb follow-up investigation.  Due to the overwhelming evidence developed by this team, the government obtained guilty verdicts that resulted in some of the most significant sentences ever imposed in a Title 46 drug prosecution.

U.S. v. Cortez-Quinonez

18-cr-00421

Case of the Year

Jacob MacLeod

San Diego Sheriff’s Dept.

Detective MacLeod’s investigation led to a groundbreaking federal prosecution that secured justice for the devastated parents of an opioid overdose victim. 

U.S. v. Maxwell Gaffney

17-cr-03330

Investigation of the Year

Jennifer Barnum

Roger Quintana

Janel Frith

Josh Watkins

HSI

U.S. CBP

HSI

HSI

The awardees’ investigation resulted in the seizure of drugs, dozens of weapons and $2 million in bulk currency; the successful prosecution of more than a dozen U.S. defendants; and charges against significant targets in Guatemala and Mexico.  

US v Ipina, et al. 17cr0648

 

Award Title

Awardee

Agency

Background

Case Name/ Investigation

Investigation of the Year

Jason Hurley

Sandy Wasser

Ernst Jacobsen

Vivien Valderrama

DEA

DEA

DEA

IRS Criminal Investigations

The joint efforts of these agents removed hundreds of pounds of deadly drugs from the streets and resulted in indictments of dangerous drug traffickers in the Ever Perez-Cruz drug trafficking organization.

 

Investigation of the Year

Christian Sanders

Connell Ainslie

Zachary Leasure

HSI

HSI

DEA

 

This team’s investigation resulted in convictions of two high level traffickers and the seizure of 2800 kilograms of cocaine; 280 kilograms of methamphetamine; five firearms; and approximately $2 million in bulk currency.     

18CR3737-WQH and 18CR3739-WQH

Investigation of the Year

Jeffrey Horner

John Philpott

Israel Garcia

Cathleen Beausang

FBI

S.D.  County DA’s Office

Cal. Dept. of Insurance

FBI

The awardees exposed systemic corruption in the California Worker’s Compensation System.   Ultimately, their hard work and tenacity led to the conviction of 18 individuals and 7 corporations and more than $2 million in fines.

 

Investigation of the Year

John Roberts

FBI

This award-winning investigation resulted in the convictions of four defendants who fraudulently obtained nearly $50 million from investors by pretending the money would be secured by high-end real estate.

 

 

 

Community Impact

Michael Wasser

DEA

Agent Wasser’s investigations and his ongoing training of numerous agents, task force officers and AUSAs resulted in a significant 40 percent increase of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) prosecutions in FY 2019.

 

Award Title

Awardee

Agency

Background

Case Name/ Investigation

Community Impact

Arnesha Bahn

ATF

Since May 2019, Agent Bahn personally swore out 40 federal PSN complaints, leading to safer and more secure neighborhoods in the Southern District.

 

Collaboration

Rick Aguilar

Lisa Amman

Pat Shadoan

Thomas Garrity

Michael Wasser

Sarah Duray

James Peters

Brian Hamilton

Edward Byrne

Brandon Merrick

Oscar Amando

San Diego Police Dept./DEA

Cal. DHCS/DEA Task Force

San Diego Police Department

HSI

DEA

DEA

DEA

FBI

HSI

DEA

San Diego Police. Dept.

Team 10 is a creative and effective collaboration that quickly takes deadly drugs off the streets, delivers justice, and never loses sight of the faces and stories of overdose victims.  

 

 

*Not all award recipients are listed

Topic(s): 
Office and Personnel Updates
Press Release Number: 
CAS20-0515-Awards
Updated May 18, 2020