United States Attorney Scott W. Brady has restructured the U.S. Attorney’s Office to allow the office to most effectively accomplish the Administration’s priorities.
The Criminal Division oversees the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases brought in federal court. It is comprised of four Sections: Cyber/National Security, Economic Crimes, Major Crimes, and Narcotics and Organized Crime.
The Cyber/National Security Section prosecutes international and domestic terrorism offenses, sophisticated cyber crimes, computer intrusions and hacking, internet narcotics trafficking, intellectual property violations, counterfeiting and human trafficking. Our Office is a leader in the prosecution of illegal fentanyl distribution on the internet, pursuant to the Attorney General’s J-CODE (Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement) Initiative which was announced by the Attorney General in Pittsburgh. The Western Pennsylvania J-CODE Team has pursued some of the very first cases in this area and played a key role in building cases against internet fentanyl distributors located in Philadelphia, Oregon, Washington, Florida and the United Kingdom, in addition to this District.
The Economic Crimes Section prosecutes a range of complex financial crimes, including investment fraud and Ponzi schemes, bank, mail and wire fraud, embezzlement, mortgage fraud, arson for profit, tax crimes, public corruption, civil rights, environmental violations and health care fraud. In October 2017 the Attorney General selected Western Pennsylvania as one of twelve districts to house an Opioid Fraud and Abuse Unit (OFADU). Led by an experienced Assistant U.S. Attorney, and staffed by FBI, DEA and HHS-OIG agents, in addition to other law enforcement partners, the Unit uses sophisticated analytics to determine the identity of health care providers who may be violating federal narcotics or health care fraud laws. As of July 2018, charges have been brought against 16 physicians and three other health care professionals. The OFADU Unit straddles the Economic Crimes and Narcotics/Organized Crime Section.
The Major Crimes Section prosecutes a broad range of criminal activity, focused on gangs and violent crime. The Attorney General’s anti-violent crime initiative, Project Safe Neighborhood, forms the basis for the federal firearms offenses prosecuted in this section. This section works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement to prosecute kidnapping, threats, robbery, as well as child sexual exploitation. Immigration offenses, postal offenses, government program fraud and embezzlement of union funds are also prosecuted in this section.
The Narcotics/Organized Crime Section prosecutes major drug trafficking networks on a local, regional and international level, Organized Crime/Drug Enforcement Task Force cases, money laundering, and Title III wiretap investigations. This Section is focused on the opioid crisis, as overdose deaths have reached record levels in Western Pennsylvania in the last several years. Aggressive prosecutions are brought against all drug distributors in the chain of distribution, with an emphasis on employing federal mandatory minimum laws to dismantle drug organizations trafficking in fentanyl, fentanyl analogues, heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana and other illegal controlled substances.
Our United States Attorney’s Office is one of only ten selected nationwide to participate in the Synthetic Opioid Surge (S.O.S.) pilot project. Working with the DEA and other law enforcement partners, an investigation and prosecution surge will be focused on Washington County, with increased prosecutions on the federal level of fentanyl dealers.
The Civil Division is comprised of two sections: Defensive Litigation and Affirmative Civil Enforcement. The main office in Pittsburgh is responsible for all civil litigation in the District, including Erie and Johnstown, with the exception of Social Security Disability Claims.
The Defensive Litigation Section is responsible for defending the United States, its agencies, and its employees in all civil matters in district court and when necessary in state court. This includes subpoena enforcement as well as resisting disclosure in state criminal or civil proceedings where the United States is not a party. The primary responsibilities of this section are torts (medical malpractice, excessive force, wrongful arrest, personal injury, etc.); employment discrimination; constitutional challenges; and program litigation, i.e. review of administrative or federal agency actions. In addition to purely defensive representation, this Section also represents the United States and its agencies in bankruptcy court, generally as creditors.
The Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Section is responsible for civil enforcement actions in the Western District of Pennsylvania. This section works closely with the Criminal Division of the office in "parallel" civil prosecutions, seeking remedies that are traditionally civil in nature, but have punitive and deterrent as well as compensatory characteristics. These remedies include monetary recovery under the False Claims Act and several civil monetary recovery statutes such as 18 U.S.C. §1345. Generally, the ACE section is involved only in cases where the federal government has suffered a financial loss or was an intended victim. However, other areas where loss of federal funds is not essential for a potential civil recovery are drug diversion matters, environmental crimes, and financial institution fraud cases. This Section also brings civil actions under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act (RLUIPA) which protects houses of worship and other religious uses of property from discriminatory or other unjustifiably burdensome land use regulations.
The Appellate Division handles all appeals in civil and criminal cases to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which is based in Philadelphia and has appellate jurisdiction of federal cases arising in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the United States Virgin Islands. Upon final judgment in federal district court, the losing party may appeal to the Court of Appeals, which reviews the rulings of the district court. Most of the government's appeals are appeals by criminal defendants from their convictions and sentences. Handling an appeal generally involves a thorough review of the record, the preparation of an extensive brief, and the presentation of oral argument before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals sitting in either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. The Appellate Division also provides legal advice to the United States Attorney and other Assistant United States Attorneys on various legal and policy issues.
The Administrative Division provides support to the U.S. Attorney's Office staff in the areas of human resources, financial management, acquisitions management, systems (information technology) management, facilities management, community relations, public affairs and other support services.