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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 15, 2018

Deputy Attorney General Recognizes Southern District of Florida Employees

Assistant United States Attorney Julia J. “Josie” Vaglienti, Assistant United States Attorney Lawrence D. LaVecchio, Administrative Officer Lazaro Feliciano, Assistant United States Attorney Mary V. “Jena” King, Legal Assistant Karol Gomez, Law Enforcement/Community Coordinator James D. “J.D.” Smith, Reentry & Community Outreach Specialist Keisha E. Bazile, and Law Enforcement Coordination Specialist Mark A. McKinney, Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Florida were among 162 members of the Department of Justice recognized by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director James Crowell, IV at the 34th Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C.

The Southern District of Florida was one of 35 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, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein told the awardees, “Today’s honorees earned the esteem of their colleagues.  But most importantly, they earned the gratitude of our fellow citizens — the people whose communities you made safer, whose lives you improved, and whose trust you rewarded. Today, we pause to honor and recognize a small portion of your work.”

Julia J. “Josie” Vaglienti and Lawrence D. LaVecchio were recognized for their outstanding work in the investigation and prosecution of one of the largest and most well organized gangs operating in the United States—the Latin Kings. The gang conducts its criminal activities through groups they refer to as “tribes.” In 2014, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies commenced an investigation into the activities of several tribes operating in South Florida. Utilizing a full range of sophisticated investigative techniques, Ms. Vaglienti and Mr. LaVecchio gathered evidence of crimes committed by members of these tribes and thwarted imminent acts of violence by gang members, including robbery and attempted murder. Over two years, convictions were obtained and lengthy prison sentences were imposed again 39 gang members, many of whom occupied leadership positions, on charges including RICO conspiracy, armed robbery, narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses, effectively dismantling the Latin Kings in South Florida.

Lazaro Feliciano, Mary V. “Jena” King, and Karol Gomez were recognized along with other individuals for their work coordinating and implementing emergency response efforts for the District of Puerto Rico and the District of the Virgin Islands in an effort to ensure these districts were operational in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. They reviewed and analyzed emergency relief policies to find the best ways to handle emergency relief efforts which could serve as best practices for other United States Attorneys’ offices facing similar emergencies. When living conditions in affected areas were dire, these employees took charge to ensure generators and other key items were shipped to critical locations. In a situation where many employees did not have power or water, those who were present in the aforementioned districts, the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, and other districts worked long hours and over the weekends to ensure employees were able to push forward and deal with the catastrophe before them and to eventually report to work. They went above and beyond the call of duty, inspiring others to do the same while making an extraordinary contribution in the midst of a very difficult crisis.

James D. “J.D.” Smith, Keisha E. Brazile, and Mark A. McKinney, Jr. were recognized for their incredibly hard work and determination in forging enduring and positive working relationships with law enforcement agencies, community leaders, nonprofit agencies, government agencies, and education and faith-based organizations to implement, operate, and coordinate prevention and reentry programs in “hot-spot” communities throughout the Southern District of Florida. The robust violence prevention strategy they spearhead furthers the priorities of the United States Attorney’s Office to reduce violent crime, gang activity, drug abuse, and firearm offenses.

“The men and women that were honored today, as representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, exemplify the Department’s tireless commitment to justice, integrity and community involvement,” stated U.S. Attorney Benjamin G. Greenberg.  “We applaud the invaluable accomplishments of the award recipients and all public servants who strive to protect and enhance the quality of life of our local citizens and foreign neighbors.”

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.

Additional information regarding the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida can be found at https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdfl.

Updated June 15, 2018