Attorney General Recognizes District Employees
Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) A. Marie Villafana, Brandy Galler, E.J. Yera, Barbara Martinez, Lisa Rubio, and Cristina Moreno, and former AUSA Roy Altman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida were one of 160 members of the Department of Justice recognized by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates, and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director Monty Wilkinson at the 31st Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C.
The Southern District of Florida was one of 31 districts represented at the ceremony which was held in the Great Hall at the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building.
In her prepared remarks, Attorney General Lynch told the awardees, "Our honorees include career executives and supervisors; Assistant U.S. Attorneys and Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys; appellate attorneys and law enforcement officials; administrators, paralegals, and public affairs officers,” said Attorney General Lynch. “These individuals, and so many others, have faced daunting and sometimes dangerous challenges. They have dedicated their leadership and their expertise, their time and their energy, to the service of their mission. And they have remained devoted, at all times, to the high ideals and deeply-held values that animate our country and our cause.”
AUSAs Villafana, Galler and Yera were recognized for their “Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney” in the Criminal Division for their work on Operation Sledgehammer. Operation Sledgehammer was a four-year undercover investigation led by multiple agencies from the Greater Palm Beach Health Care Fraud Task Force that targeted an organized group conducting insurance fraud in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade Counties, Florida. The investigative team, consisting of both federal and state prosecutors/investigators as well as the National Insurance Crime Bureau, charged 105 subjects. The federal investigative team prepared thirteen charging instruments in eight federal cases against 57 individuals. As a result of the investigation, three physicians and a patient recruiter were convicted after trial and over 20 fraudulent therapy clinics were closed.
AUSAs Martinez and Rubio and former AUSA Altman were recognized for their “Superior Performance as an Assistant U.S. Attorney” in the Criminal Division for their work in the case of United States v. Lavont Flanders, Jr. and Emerson Callum, a serial rape and pornography case that spanned five years, involved more than 50 victims, combined the efforts of at least 10 federal and local agencies, and represented the first federal case of its kind in the United States. Between 2006 and 2011, Flanders, a former police officer, and Callum, a Jamaican-born pornographer, perpetrated an elaborate fraud to lure aspiring models from all across the United States to Miami by promising the victims the opportunity to audition for modeling and acting roles that, it later turned out, never existed. As part of the fraud, Flanders, using scores of fake social networking profiles and email accounts, recruited the victims to audition for a role with a multi-national company. Once the victims arrived in Miami, Flanders instructed them to drink alcohol, while he filmed, as part of the audition. Unbeknownst to the women, the drinks were laced with benzodiazepines, sedatives commonly used as date rape drugs. Once the drugs had taken effect, Flanders drove the victims to Callum’s studio, where Callum would perpetrate a litany of sexual acts on the victims, while Flanders filmed. The investigation revealed that the defendants had edited, produced, and sold the video-footage of the sexual assaults as pornography, both online and to pornography businesses across the country. Both defendants were found guilty at trial and sentenced to 13 consecutive terms of life sentences. Their convictions were affirmed on appeal.
AUSA Moreno, together with AUSAs from the Central District of California and their law enforcement partners from the FBI, Secret Service, and the Armenian Organized Crime Task Force, received an award for “Superior Performance by a Litigative Team” for their extraordinary work handling the largest organized crime prosecution targeting a Eurasian criminal enterprise in DOJ history. This prosecution targeted the Armenian Power criminal enterprise, a violent and sophisticated organized crime group of international scope directly allied with traditional Armenian-Russian criminal leaders abroad and domestically, and a group that has deep links to the powerful Mexican Mafia prison gang. The successful prosecution resulted in the conviction of over 100 Armenian Power members and associates for a variety of federal crimes, including racketeering offenses, bank fraud and identity theft offense, public corruption offenses, kidnappings, extortions, firearms offenses, drug-trafficking crimes, illegal gambling, and Medicare.
U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “I applaud the dedicated efforts of the recognized prosecution teams. Their extraordinary skill, hard work and unwavering commitment to justice ensures that our communities are protected and the offenders are held accountable in a court of law. I am very proud of their achievements and support of our mission.”
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.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.