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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Scott Brady announces resignation

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania
Resignation to be effective February 28, 2021

PITTSBURGH - Scott W. Brady, United States Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, announced today that he has submitted his resignation, effective February 28, 2021.

"Leading this office has been the greatest honor of my professional career," said Brady. "I am deeply grateful for the privilege of serving as chief law enforcement officer for my home, western Pennsylvania. Together with our law enforcement partners, the men and women of this office have pursued justice with humility and integrity, to advance the rule of law and secure a framework for ordered liberty. As a result of their tireless efforts, western Pennsylvania is a safer place for our neighbors and their loved ones."

Brady was sworn-in as United States Attorney on December 14, 2017 and will step-down on February 28, 2021. U.S. Attorney Brady also had the distinguished role of serving on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a body of federal prosecutors advising the Attorney General on policy and operational issues from September 2019 to December 2020.

The following are notable accomplishments achieved under U.S. Attorney Brady’s leadership:

Combatting Opioids & Addiction

As United States Attorney, Brady’s chief priority was to focus on saving lives. When he began his tenure in 2017, no area in the country demanded more attention than the opioid epidemic and narcotics overdose crisis. From 2013-2017, overdose deaths in western Pennsylvania had increased 208%, with 5,456 drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in 2017. "This crisis has impacted every community in western Pennsylvania," said U.S. Attorney Brady, calling western Pennsylvania "Ground Zero" for the opioid epidemic. "From day one of my administration, I vowed to fight the opioid epidemic with every tool the Department of Justice has, and to do so with new urgency."

One of the key sources of opioid addiction was prescription opioids by medical professionals and pharmacists. To address that issue, Brady directed substantial resources, including the office’s most experienced white-collar prosecutor, into the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit. The office was a nationwide leader with the first physician prosecutions for opioid diversion, and the office prosecuted more medical professionals than any other U.S. Attorney’s Office in the nation. The office created training for medical professionals throughout western Pennsylvania on the pitfalls and risks – to their patients and to the professionals themselves – of opioid addiction and over-prescription. Additionally, the office partnered with the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health to create the state’s first Opioid Rapid Response Team, which provides substance abuse resources on-site when closing a "pill mill" doctor’s office.

Brady simultaneously focused on fentanyl trafficking by domestic and international drug trafficking organizations. He created a new Narcotics and Organized Crime Section and filled it with the office’s most experienced narcotics prosecutors. He appointed an Opioid Coordinator to serve as a point person for the district’s strategic efforts and obtained funding from the Department of Justice for new federal prosecutors. Additionally, Brady prioritized cyber investigations into opioid sales on Darknet marketplaces, using the cyber expertise of the office to attack vendors, marketplaces, and the funding sources for Darkweb activity.

U.S. Attorney Brady also brought significant resources to bear by working to have Allegheny, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland counties designated as High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) by the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. Prior to this designation, Pittsburgh had been the largest metropolitan area in the U.S. without a HIDTA designation or funding. Working closely with District Attorneys in these counties, Pennsylvania State Police and local partners, HIDTA designations expanded law enforcement efforts – including critical federal funding and expanded training for law enforcement officers – in the areas determined to be the most significant drug-trafficking regions in western Pennsylvania.

The office increased federal drug prosecutions by 42% versus 2016, aggressively targeting major drug trafficking organizations, corrupt doctors and Darkweb marketplaces. This prioritization was a significant factor in the corresponding dramatic decrease in narcotics overdose deaths in this region in 2018 and 2019. During this period, the 25-county district experienced a significant decrease of over 40% in narcotics overdoses, with some counties experiencing a decrease of over 50%, including significant decreases in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, Washington County and Westmoreland counties.

"Every life is precious – every person addicted to drugs is a son, daughter, mother, father, brother or sister," said Brady. "We will continue to fight for every life."

Reducing Violent Crime

U.S. Attorney Brady also advanced priorities focused on reducing violent crime rates, helping women break free from domestic and intimate partner violence, and taking down major crime cartels that have targeted the region as part of their drug distribution networks.

Under Brady’s tenure, the office has seen an unprecedented federal enforcement effort with a record number of prosecutions for Western Pennsylvania. In FY 2019 and FY 2020, the office filed criminal charges 1,422 defendants, including record numbers of cases each year against drug and firearm defendants. These numbers represent the most productive two years in the history of this U.S. Attorney’s Office.

"I believe there is a direct, linear and causal relationship between the number of violent felons that our federal prosecutions remove from communities they are terrorizing, and how safe our neighbors are," Brady said. "The commitment of the men and women of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to the safety of our region is nothing short of remarkable. We have just completed the two most productive years in the history of this office, and as the head of this office, I am proud that western PA families and their loved ones have safer communities in which to live and flourish than they did in 2016."

Under Brady’s leadership, the office prioritized and dismantled violent gangs that had been terrorizing communities in western Pennsylvania. Those gangs include the Greenway Boy Killas in and around Pittsburgh’s West End neighborhood, Darccide/Smash 44 in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood, "11 Hunnit" in Pittsburgh’s Hill District neighborhood, SCO in the Greater Pittsburgh area, Shot Boyz in Pittsburgh and Latrobe, Hustlas Don’t Sleep in Eastern Allegheny County communities, "1800" in Erie, and the Pagan’s Motorcycle gang.

Calling Mexican cartels a "clear and present danger" to the safety of western Pennsylvania, Brady prioritized large and violent drug trafficking organizations, with ties to Mexican cartels. For example, from May to September 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, the Office took down 7 major drug trafficking organizations and charged over 150 defendants with trafficking drugs including methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, and crack cocaine in Allegheny, Butler, Centre, Clearfield, Clinton, Erie, Indiana, and Lawrence Counties. These drug trafficking organizations were connected to source cities such as Philadelphia, Atlanta, Arizona, and California, and many had direct ties to cartels in Mexico.

Significantly increasing the federal prosecution of violent felons, violent gangs and drug organizations, and expanding the office’s work with state and local partners, was one of the reasons that western Pennsylvania witnessed a decrease in violent crime, especially firearms-related violent crime. In 2019, for example, firearms-related violent crime decreased by 25% in Allegheny County and 32% in Pittsburgh, with homicides falling to a 20-year low in the City of Pittsburgh.

U.S. Attorney Brady also recognized that domestic and intimate partner violence are some of the most common and harmful forms of violent crime. He was one of a few U.S. Attorneys to ask the Attorney General to create a first ever Domestic Violence Working Group of U.S. Attorneys aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of convicted abusers and using federal firearm prosecutions to prevent domestic violence. That group was promptly formed, and Brady was a member of it for his entire time on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee. Brady appointed a Domestic Violence Coordinator for western Pennsylvania and marshaled federal resources to supplement the great work being done by state and local law enforcement in this area. Brady wrote op-eds bringing attention to domestic violence issues. During the pandemic, the office collected needed supplies for domestic violence shelters in Allegheny, Cambria, Erie, Lawrence and Mercer counties, which Brady delivered personally with his sons and others from the office. Due to all of these efforts, the office significantly increased its federal domestic violence prosecutions, especially cases involving abusers with firearms.

Combatting Cybercrime

"Crimes committed by cyber attackers are against real victims who suffer real harm," said U.S. Attorney Scott Brady. "We have an obligation to hold accountable those who commit crimes — no matter where they reside and no matter for whom they work — in order to seek justice on behalf of these victims."

U.S. Attorney Brady built on the office’s reputation and history of cutting-edge cyber prosecutions. In addition to traditional prosecutions, the office took the ground-breaking steps of seizing and taking over the cybercriminals’ infrastructure, including routers used to control Russian malware and a portal to the dark web. Brady oversaw unprecedented coordination with several law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and Europe to develop parallel investigations and prosecutions for several key transnational criminal organizations.

In May 2019, the office – with partners from Georgia, Ukraine, Moldova, Germany, Bulgaria and Eurojust – dismantled the GozNym cybercriminal network, which was the world’s most significant malware syndicate and was operating out of Europe. At the end of that year, the office charged the top cybercriminal in the world, Maksim Yakubets, who led Evil Corp., which deployed malware against banks and companies around the world causing losses over $100 million.

Under Brady’s leadership, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced charges in 2018 and 2020 against military intelligence officers of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) for a series of cyberattacks around the world. The 2018 indictment was for hacking the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and international athletic organizations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency and FIFA. The 2020 indictment was for computer intrusions and attacks intended to support Russian government efforts to undermine, retaliate against, or otherwise destabilize: (1) Ukraine, including its electric grid; (2) Georgia; (3) elections in France; (4) efforts to hold Russia accountable for its use of a weapons-grade nerve agent, Novichok, on foreign soil; and (5) the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games after Russian athletes were banned from participating under their nation’s flag, as a consequence of Russian government-sponsored doping effort. These attacks caused incalculable damages, with three victims suffering nearly $1 billion in losses from the NotPetya malware part of the scheme. These investigations exposed and charged an expansive criminal conspiracy of cyber-attacks across three continents and seven countries.

These prosecutions have resulted in a paradigm change in how cybercrime is investigated and prosecuted. Rather than the traditional bi-lateral investigations resulting in U.S. charges, under Brady’s leadership, the office works closely with international partners to not only investigate and share information and evidence, but also to build prosecutions in those partner countries without extradition treaties with the U.S. As a result, an entire criminal infrastructure is dismantled with simultaneous prosecutions in the U.S. and partner countries. This paradigm, known as the "Pittsburgh model," is being adopted throughout the Department of Justice and the F.B.I.

Hate Crimes and National Security

As U.S. Attorney, Brady also fought hate crime and terrorism to advance community and national security in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

The office swiftly brought charges against Robert Bowers in connection with the Oct. 27, 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha synagogue building in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and has pressed for a trial date despite a government shutdown and the COVID-19 pandemic. The office also successfully disrupted a plot to bomb a church located on the North Side of Pittsburgh by a self-identified member of ISIS, in the first international terrorism prosecution in the history of this office.

Brady also worked to protect the community and promote the right to Free Speech by prosecuting violent rioters who used the guise of protests to incite violence. During the summer of 2020, the office worked with federal and local law enforcement to prosecute the people who instigated a riot in Pittsburgh, including setting police cars on fire, attacking police officers and placing homemade IEDs along the protest route. Brady stated, "Throwing IEDs and bricks at police officers, throwing projectiles at and striking police horses, and setting police cruisers on fire are not the protected First Amendment activities of a peaceful protest; they are criminal acts that violate federal law." Similarly, in 2021, the office assisted the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Columbia to bring to justice rioters from western Pennsylvania who invaded the U.S. Capitol. Brady stated, "As the chief law enforcement officer in western Pennsylvania, I'm worried about the rule of law and applying it equally across the board and protecting our neighbors, our loved ones and people of western Pennsylvania - full stop."

Fraud and Public Corruption

Throughout his tenure as U.S. Attorney, Brady targeted fraud to protect western Pennsylvanians’ hard-earned money and tax dollars. "Every dollar matters to families who work hard and play by the rules," Brady stated. "We are here to protect them."

In March 2020, in response to impending COVID-19 fraud, United States Attorney Brady and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced the formation of a first-in-the-nation joint federal and state task force: the Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force This Task Force has been investigating and prosecuting coronavirus-related fraud, bringing together federal and state investigative agencies and prosecutors to ensure there is no gap between the shields in protecting the public from COVID-19 fraudsters. The Western Pennsylvania COVID-19 Fraud Task Force model has been adopted throughout the nation. "The goal is to protect the citizens of western Pennsylvania from fraudsters who seek to take advantage of the fear and confusion many feel surrounding the coronavirus," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "Fraudsters are targeting vulnerable members of our community, including our seniors, by setting up websites to sell bogus products, and using fake emails, texts, and social media posts as a ruse to take your money and get your personal information."

Brady’s COVID-19 Fraud Task prosecuted several notable COVID-19 fraudulent schemes, which included the prosecution of over 40 individuals, including inmates at 8 state and county jail and prisons, for illegally and repeatedly obtaining CARES Act unemployment benefits to which they were not entitled, by submitting false or fraudulent statements; the disruption of an international fraud scheme to sell 39 million N-95 masks to major medical systems in California; and the prosecution of an international fraud conspiracy to charge Americans for puppies that did not exist, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The office also prioritized environmental investigation and prosecutions, including the prosecution of

the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA), which violated the Clean Water Act by discharging sludge generated during the drinking water treatment process into the Allegheny River, and falsified reports to cover it up. PWSA agreed to create and fund a comprehensive environmental compliance program.

Another priority was protecting senior citizens from fraud and abuse. The office has worked with the FBI, AARP, and others to teach seniors how to identify, avoid and report common fraud schemes. The office – working with the FBI, HHS Office of Inspector General, Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, and IRS Criminal Investigation – indicted the former administrator of a nursing home for depriving seniors of patient care by using inflated nursing hours, falsified timecards and other schemes that they concealed with two sets of records. The office was also part of a $15.4 million settlement of a False Claims Act case alleging a nursing home company with over 50 homes in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia billed for medically unnecessary rehabilitation therapy sessions.

Partnerships with Law Enforcement

During his tenure, U.S. Attorney Brady prioritized the expansion and deepening of strategic partnerships with District Attorneys and federal, state and local law enforcement throughout western Pennsylvania. Brady highlighted the critical relationships between federal agencies and the Pennsylvania State Police, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety and Allegheny County Police Department in the fight against both the opioid scourge and violent crime in our region.

"One of the great privileges of being the top law enforcement officer in western Pennsylvania is the opportunity to work with the men and women of federal, state and local law enforcement," said Brady. "They serve us selflessly as they keep us and our loved ones safe every day. These heroes deserve to be celebrated."

By operation of federal law, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Kaufman will be sworn-in as Acting U.S. Attorney upon the effective date of Brady’s resignation.

Updated February 26, 2021

Office and Personnel Updates