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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SDTX Employees Honored by Department of Justice at Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys Director’s Awards Ceremony

Deputy AG Sally Yates, EOUSA Director Monty Wilkinson recognize select employees at event in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON – Six current and one former employee of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas (SDTX) were some of the 160 recipients recognized by Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) Director Monty Wilkinson at the 32nd annual Director’s Awards Ceremony today in Washington D.C. 

The SDTX was one of 33 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, Yates said, “The achievements being recognized today reflect the breadth of the department’s responsibilities, and some of our most significant challenges. From dismantling dangerous gangs, drug cartels and human trafficking operations to tackling political corruption, white collar crimes and international terrorism, these awardees have taken on our toughest cases. And the citizens of our country are safer because of their work.”  

“We honor the truly talented and dedicated legal and administrative personnel in the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and our law enforcement partners who everyday touch lives in our communities, protect the American people and work to ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice,” said Wilkinson.  

“These awards demonstrate the significance of the matters we handle every day,” said U.S. Attorney Magidson. “The Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSAs) recognized today worked on complex and noteworthy cases, conducting themselves in a truly remarkable fashion that brought national honor to the work we do. They are a great credit to this district and to our community.” 

Three employees received commendations for superior performance as a criminal Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA). 

AUSA James H. Sturgis was recognized for the prosecution of members of the Panama Unit, an elite counter-drug task force in Hidalgo County. Instead of capturing drug dealers, the Panama Unit’s law enforcement officers stole from those dealers and selling the drugs for a profit. Sturgis ultimately obtained indictments against more than a dozen people, including the Hidalgo County Sheriff, his top commander and several deputies, local police officers, the local CrimeStoppers coordinator and others on drug, money laundering and conspiracy charges. The corrupt officers pleaded guilty and were sentenced to a combined total of 114 years in prison. Thanks to Sturgis’ diligence, the citizens of Hidalgo County and South Texas are reassured that no law enforcement officer is above the law, and that those who violate the laws, especially those in positions of public trust, will be prosecuted and punished. 

AUSAs Martha A. Minnis and Katherine L. Haden were recognized for their successful criminal prosecution of a family-run fraud business. The Jariv family operated a telemarketing timeshare scheme out of Las Vegas, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston.  Using nearly a dozen company names, the Jariv family and their employees targeted nearly 1,000 timeshare owners, many retired and elderly, in a $13 million advance fee fraud which lasted from 2007 until 2012. The prosecution resulted in the conviction of seven defendants and the immediate restitution of $2.25 million for the victims.   

Also honored today was AUSA Andrew A. Bobb for superior performance as a civil AUSA.  

Bobb reached remarkable civil fraud settlements in eight separate matters, recovering nearly $115 million that had been defrauded from the nation’s taxpayers. Assembling and leading teams of investigators from various federal agencies, Bobb overcame determined opposition from physicians, hospitals, diagnostic testing facilities and corporations, and achieved unparalleled positive results in the fight against fraud. Through his outstanding professionalism, acumen and diligence, he achieved the largest short-stay settlement - $98.15 million - against a single health care provider in our nation’s history, as well as the largest settlement - $4.3 million - against a solo physician in the history of the SDTX. Bobb’s accomplishments are truly exceptional, distinguish him among his peers and reflect great credit upon himself and the Department of Justice. 

Three others – AUSAs Renata A. Gowie and Lauretta D. Bahry and former AUSA  Jason S. Varnado – were recognized for superior performance as appellate AUSAs.  

They were honored for their outstanding efforts in United States v. Kuhrt, an appeal of a complex international investment fraud scheme perpetrated by Stanford Financial Group. Corporate officers Mark Kuhrt and Gilbert Lopez Jr. helped Robert Allen Stanford commit one of the largest investment fraud schemes in U.S. history. The scheme involved a certificate of deposit program at Antigua-based Stanford International Bank, Limited. The investment fraud occurred over decades and involved tens of thousands of victims from many countries and multi-billion dollar losses. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the wire fraud convictions and 20-year prison sentences for Kuhrt and Lopez in a published opinion.

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.

Topic(s): 
Office and Personnel Updates
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Updated June 1, 2016