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Press Release

Attorney General William Barr Recognizes Department Employees and Others for Their Service at 67th Annual Attorney General Awards

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Florida

Four Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of Florida Among Honorees

WASHINGTON – Attorney General William P. Barr recognized 295 department employees for their distinguished public service today at the 67th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony.  Sixty-two other individuals outside of the department were also honored for their work.  This annual ceremony recognizes employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, leadership, and service to the Department of Justice and the American people. 

“Our greatest strength in our fight for justice is our people – the thousands of men and women who have dedicated their careers, often at great personal sacrifice, to working for justice in America,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “As we reflect on the contributions of each of the 357 individuals we honor today, we should hold them up as examples of excellence that continue to inspire our own commitment, and also as reminders of the professionalism and the qualities exhibited throughout the Department.”

            “The extraordinary efforts undertaken by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Fels, Andrea Goldbarg, Lynn Kirkpatrick and John Shipley, to ensure that justice is served and that the rules of professional conduct are upheld, are undeniably deserving of these prestigious honors,” stated U.S. Attorney Ariana Fajardo Orshan.  “Their contributions have helped to protect the public from the scourge of illicit drugs and violence, and to promote professional responsibility within the legal profession.  The Southern District of Florida is incredibly proud of their unwavering commitment to the highest caliber of public service.”

This year’s program honors individuals across the department and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners for their self-less efforts, protecting our national security and our civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, going after gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings.  The awards also honor the work of civil and environmental litigation, which enforces the rule of law and upholds our Constitution.  They also recognize employees whose ideas and efforts save taxpayer dollars and help our government operate more effectively and efficiently, among other contributions to public safety and good governance.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Shipley, Jr., was part of a team that was recognized for its outstanding litigation assistance with respect to critical ethical and professional responsibility issues that arose in the case of U.S. v. Philip Esformes, et al., the single largest healthcare fraud case ever brought against individuals by the  Department of Justice involving over $1 billion in false and fraudulent claims to Medicare and Medicaid for services that were not provided, were not medically necessary, or were procured through the payment of kickbacks. The recipients were called upon to independently review and defend Department of Justice attorneys and special agents against charges of prosecutorial misconduct and invasion of the defense camp. The team exhibited a high degree of professionalism and responsibility by making a thorough, yet independent, evaluation of the facts and then skillfully represented the interests of the U.S. by presenting the facts and legal argument in a manner best suited to achieve the best result for the case, defend the reputational interests of their colleagues, and maintain the Department’s commitment to professional integrity.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam S. Fels, Andrea Goldbarg, and Lynn M. Kirkpatrick, along with the rest of the prosecution team received the sole award of the Department’s highest recognition, the Exceptional Service Award. This team successfully investigated and convicted Joaquín Guzmán Loera, also known as “El Chapo,” one of the most notorious international drug cartel leaders. Guzmán was a principal leader of the Sinaloa Cartel, a Mexico- based international drug trafficking organization responsible for importing and  distributing  staggering  quantities  –  tens  of  thousands  of  tons  –   of  narcotics from Central and South America into the U.S. over a 25-year period. The cartel controlled significant portions of Mexico and relied on the use of violence and corruption to maintain its power. Guzmán directed his hitmen to kidnap, interrogate, torture, and kill members of rival drug organizations, at times carrying out acts of violence personally. Guzmán also utilized a sophisticated encrypted communications network to operate the global narcotics trafficking operation. To maintain his grip on certain parts of Mexico and further the interests of the cartel, Guzmán took advantage of a vast network of corrupt Government officials from local law enforcement officers, prison guards, and State officials to high-ranking members of the armed forces and politicians. Although indicted in multiple districts across the country, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the Department’s Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York combined their efforts and resources to seek justice in a U.S. federal court in Brooklyn, New York for Guzman’s 25-year continuing criminal enterprise, plus multiple substantive international narcotics trafficking and weapons charges. The resulting 12- week trial included testimony from 56 witnesses; 14 cooperating witnesses; narcotics seizures totaling over 130,000 kilograms of cocaine and heroin; and the seizure of weapons, ledgers, text messages, letters, videos, and voice recordings detailing the drug trafficking activity of Guzmán and his co- conspirators. On Feb. 12, 2019, Guzmán was convicted by a Federal jury in Brooklyn of all counts of the superseding indictment. On July 17, 2019, Guzmán was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years.  The Court also ordered Guzmán to pay $12.6 billion pursuant to a forfeiture judgment.

Updated October 23, 2019