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Civil Division

The Civil Division represents the interests of the United States and its agencies in all civil litigation at trial and on appeal. Below is an overview of its practice areas.

Civil Frauds

The Civil Frauds Unit (the “CiFU”) investigates and prosecutes large-scale and sophisticated frauds committed against the government and financial institutions in a wide array of areas, including health care fraud, financial fraud, procurement fraud, grant fraud, mortgage fraud, customs fraud, federal program fraud, and other schemes that harm the public fisc and undermine government priorities.  The CiFU’s most powerful tool is the False Claims Act, in the context of which the CiFU frequently works with whistleblowers to investigate, expose, and combat fraud and abuse of government funds — frequently obtaining substantial monetary recoveries, public admissions of misconduct from defendants, and, where appropriate, injunctive relief.  For example, in its health care fraud practice, the CiFU has brought and resolved many innovative, high-impact False Claims Act cases, including matters addressing kickbacks to medical providers, fraudulent billing, medical device fraud, fraud in the Medicare Part C program, and fraud and abuse in residential care facilities.  The CiFU also regularly partners with the Office’s Criminal Division in the area of health care fraud, including, for example in the recent prosecution and resolution of False Claims Act cases against a medical device company and an ophthalmology practice, both for fraudulent billing. 

The CiFU enforces the False Claims Act in many other areas as well.  For instance, the CiFU maintains a robust customs fraud practice, prosecuting schemes involving the intentional undervaluing of goods imported into the United States, the misclassification of goods under federal tariff schedules, and more.  The CiFU has also brought notable cases involving violations of the Controlled Substances Act (including the first prosecution of executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself for trafficking opioids), the fraudulent use of federal research grants and federal program funds intended to benefit underserved groups.

In addition, the CIFU has a long track record of bringing important cases under the False Claims Act, the Financial Institutions, Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act ("FIRREA"), and other statutes to address major financial frauds.  In particular, the CiFU brought the Department of Justice's first mortgage fraud lawsuits against major Wall Street financial institutions for engaging in reckless lending practices prior to the financial crisis, recovering over a billion dollars from those institutions.  The CiFU has continued its pursuit of sophisticated financial wrongdoing, for example bringing False Claims Act and FIRREA matters against major banks for schemes to overcharge their foreign exchange customers.  The CiFU continues to investigate fraud and abuse in new and evolving areas, including, for example, cyber fraud and fraud relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and related relief programs.

Civil Rights

Established in 1971, the Civil Rights Unit in the Civil Division is the oldest civil rights unit of any United States Attorney’s Office in the country.  The Unit is charged with enforcing federal statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity), disability, religion, familial status, and national origin; interference with voting rights; and patterns and practices of constitutional violations committed by law enforcement.  Cases range from litigation filed on behalf of one individual in employment discrimination cases, to expansive investigations and litigations against major companies, municipalities, corrections departments, or police departments for discriminatory or unconstitutional practices. 

Environmental Protection

The Environmental Protection Unit protects the environment and public health in the Southern District of New York and beyond. Our matters include enforcement under traditional environmental statutes like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”); protection of the public from lead paint and other health threats in housing; preventing the sale of unregistered pesticides; worker safety; and food safety.  Across all these areas, we prioritize enforcement in areas that support environmental justice by protecting disadvantaged communities that disproportionately bear environmental and public health burdens.

The Civil Division also defends the United States in lawsuits under environmental, natural resources, and wildlife laws.  These matters include challenges to regulations and other formal actions by environmental agencies; claims that agencies failed to give environmental issues a “hard look” where required under the National Environmental Protection Act; and requests for courts to compel environmental agencies to take actions that they have not taken.

We encourage members of the public to bring environmental or environmental justice concerns relating to the Southern District of New York to our attention.  If you wish to do so, please send an email to and describe the concerns in as much detail as possible.

General Defensive Litigation

The Civil Division has a diverse and challenging general defensive litigation practice.  Civil Division AUSAs defend against constitutional challenges to federal statutes and regulations; suits to overturn government policies and programs; and attacks on the legality of government decisions.  Civil Division AUSAs also represent individual employees in suits brought against them for actions taken in the scope of their federal employment and represent the United States and its agencies and officers in employment discrimination and tort cases, Freedom of Information Act litigation, and many other cases.

National Security and Foreign Policy

The Civil Division litigates a wide range of cases implicating the national security, national defense, and foreign relations of the United States.  Civil Division AUSAs have handled cases ranging from the assertion of the foreign policy interests of the United States in federal court to defending against challenges to the activities of the U.S. Intelligence Community and law enforcement. 

The Civil Division also advises federal courts on matters implicating the immunity of foreign governments, heads of state, and the United Nations.  Civil Division AUSAs also handle litigation to protect classified national security information from disclosure, including through assertion of the state secrets privilege. Cases often arise in the context of requests for federal agency records under the Freedom of Information Act or third-party requests for discovery from agencies.

Tax and Bankruptcy

SDNY is one of the only U.S. Attorney’s Offices that represents the United States and its agencies in bankruptcy proceedings and civil tax litigation. The Office’s bankruptcy practice is remarkably diverse and sophisticated, as Civil Division AUSAs have represented the federal government in some of the biggest and most significant bankruptcies in United States history.  These matters include bankruptcies of cryptocurrency companies, major pharmaceutical companies (including recently Purdue Pharma and Endo Pharmaceuticals), major domestic and foreign airlines (including American Airlines), car manufacturers (including Chrysler and General Motors), and countless other major companies (including Sears and Lehman Brothers). 

Civil Division AUSAs also handle a variety of complex civil tax cases, including filing affirmative cases to collect millions of dollars of unpaid income and employment taxes and penalties (including FBAR penalties for failures to report foreign accounts), litigating tax shelter cases in which sophisticated corporate entities engage in transactions that lack economic substance to shield their income from taxation, and seeking injunctions to prevent abusive tax preparers and tax shelter promoters from operating.


Civil Division AUSAs brief and argue all appeals from their own cases, typically in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.  Supervisors in the Appeals Unit works closely with the AUSAs to help prepare the briefs and oral arguments, whether the Government is appealing a judgment against it, defending a ruling in its favor, or advising the court of the Government’s views through an amicus curiae brief.  The Appeals Unit also assists the Solicitor General in preparing briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court that arise from cases handled by this Office.

Find out more about our Civil Division priorities.

Updated November 5, 2023