You are here

Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

WDTX Prosecutors Honored by DOJ At Executive Office for United States Attorneys Director’s Awards Ceremony

WASHINGTON – Western District of Texas Assistant United States Attorneys Gregg N. Sofer, Rifian S. Newaz and Robert Almonte, II were 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.

In her prepared remarks, Deputy Attorney General 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 Director Wilkinson. 

Gregg N. Sofer was recognized for his exceptional contributions to Operation Temple Granite, which focused on members of a homegrown violent extremist group in Austin, Texas that was radicalizing others in addition to providing material support to terrorism.  Over a two-year period, Mr. Sofer supervised the use of numerous advanced surveillance techniques and undercover operations to ferret out the defendants’ material support of terrorism.  Mr. Sofer’s work led to the conviction of Michael Todd Wolfe and Rahatul Ashikim Khan for conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.

Rifian S. Newaz and Robert Almonte, II were recognized for the human trafficking prosecution of members of the Folk Nation Gang in United States v. Deion Lockhart, et al.  The prosecution stemmed from a one-year Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team investigation into sex trafficking by members of the gang.  Vulnerable victims, including at-risk youth and adult addicts, were recruited to engage in commercial sex acts.  Gang members forced the victims to continue by inflicting brutal violence on them.  One defendant was employed as a Juvenile Probation Officer when he recruited a child probationer to engage in commercial sex acts for him and the group.  Six defendants were convicted on various human trafficking and sexual exploitation charges, and sentences of up to life imprisonment were imposed after a difficult and lengthy trial.

“These lawyers exemplify the excellence that has long characterized the Assistant United States Attorneys that work in the Western District of Texas. All three of these lawyers put in long hours of hard work in the interest of protecting the citizens in this District. I am proud to call them colleagues and am grateful the Department of Justice has recognized their outstanding work,” stated United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.

The Western District of Texas 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. Sofer, Newaz and Almonte were among the total 160 award recipients.

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
Component(s): 
Updated June 1, 2016