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Justice News

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

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Recognizes Department Employees and Others for their Service at 66th Annual Attorney General Awards

Paralegal Assigned to Wales Murder Investigation Honored for Outstanding Work

WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions recognized 244 department employees for their distinguished public service today at the 66th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony.  Thirty-six other individuals outside of the department were also honored for their work.  This annual ceremony recognizes employees and other individuals who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, leadership, and service to the Department of Justice and the American people.  This year’s award includes an award for exceptional heroism to U.S. Marshal Senior Inspector Basilio S. Perez, Jr., for his courageous actions to protect and aid victims of the October 1, 2017, mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada.                                                  

“Service in the Department of Justice is more than a normal job; it is a calling to the highest standards of professionalism,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “That is true for all of the 115,000 Department of Justice employees.  But it is especially true for these award winners. And so I want to thank them and their families for their exemplary service to this Department and to the American people. They have made this Department proud.”

“For more than 17 years Gretchen Courtney has worked tirelessly for justice for Tom Wales, the Wales family and all of us who knew and loved this talented and dedicated Assistant United States Attorney,” said U.S. Attorney Annette L. Hayes.  “She has managed what is now the largest case file at the FBI, and provided support to the joint Federal and State team working to bring a killer to justice.”

This year’s program honors individuals across the department and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners for their self-less efforts, protecting our national security and our civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, going after gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings.  The awards also honor the work of civil and environmental litigation, which enforces the rule of law and upholds our Constitution.  They also recognize employees whose ideas and efforts save taxpayer dollars and help our government operate more effectively and efficiently, among other contributions to public safety and good governance.

In making the award to Paralegal Specialist Gretchen Courtney, the Attorney General noted that she had spent a significant portion of her professional life supporting the investigation of the October 11, 2001 shooting death of Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Crane Wales.  Mr. Wales was shot and killed at his home by an unknown assailant who stood outside a backyard window.   If, as investigators believe, Wales was killed in connection with his work, he would be the first Assistant United States Attorney killed in the line of duty.

The award to Paralegal Specialist Gretchen Courtney notes her “unwavering commitment” to the investigation, and “invaluable contributions have included managing the collection, analysis, and maintenance of the largest case file in the Federal Bureau of Investigation… Her service is a tribute to the U.S. Department of Justice’s fierce determination to ensure those responsible for the murder are held accountable for the crime.”

Office and Personnel Updates
Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Public Affairs Officer Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or
Updated October 24, 2018