LAWFUEL – The US Legal Newswire – The Department of Justice held its 24th Annual Executive Office for United States Attorneys (EOUSA) Director’s Awards Ceremony today, during which 132 award recipients were recognized for their excellence in law enforcement. Recipients included Assistant United States Attorneys, litigation and information technology support personnel, and others who have made outstanding contributions in federal, state and local law enforcement.
“Those who we are honoring today are some of the Department’s finest public servants,” said Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler. “Through their leadership and integrity in carrying out the Department’s mission, those of us in the Department and the citizens in the communities they serve can be proud of the duties they perform on our behalf every day.”
While terrorism remains the top priority of the Department of Justice, the Department has continued its mission to enforce all of our nation’s laws, including prosecuting civil rights violations, gang violence and drug crimes, as well as representing our client agencies, conducting civil enforcement, and assisting victims of crime.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida R Alexander Acosta, stated, “We are always proud of the daily accomplishments of all of the members of our office. However, today these individuals have been recognized by the Department for their outstanding contributions to the mission of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.”
Janice LeClainche, an AUSA in the West Palm Beach branch office, earned a Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney for her work prosecuting 19 violent armed bank robbers who terrorized Palm Beach County Banks for over three years. The “Knotty Heads,” or the “Knotty Head Clique”over a span of three years, robbed or attempted to rob over forty South Florida banks. The group employed a dynamic takeover tactic of rushing into the bank with guns drawn, jumping the teller counters and ordering all the employees and customers to the ground. The subjects were armed with hand guns and high powered rifles including AR-15s. None of the robbers were apprehended at the victim banks. The prosecution was built by search warrants, DNA, charging the robbers with other crimes such as guns or drugs, and then getting them to plead and cooperate regarding the bank robberies. Nineteen defendants were charged and convicted in six indictments and two trials. Her steadfast dedication over a three year period was the single most important factor in violent bank robbers being convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from eighty-two years to 78 months.
Miami AUSAs Matthew S. Axelrod, Richard D. Gregorie, Lisa A. Hirsch, Alison W. Lehr, and Edward R. Ryan earned their awards for their exceptional service in the successful investigation, trial preparation, pre-trial litigation, and plea negotiations that culminated in the convictions of cocaine kingpins Miguel Rodriguez-Orejuela and Gilberto Rodriguez-Orejuela, two founders and high ranking members of the Cali cartel. Their convictions mark the end of one of the most significant high-level narcotics trafficking investigations ever prosecuted in the United States. The Rodriguez-Orejuela brothers were each sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to forfeit $2.1 billion to the United States. These two brothers were the final defendants of the multi-year investigation called “Operation Cornerstone,” which resulted in the indictment of 141 cartel members and the seizure of 47,500 kilograms of cocaine and billions of dollars in cash and other assets.
Miami AUSAs Juan Antonio (Tony) Gonzalez, David Haimes, Alison Lehr and Alicia Shick and Legal Assistant Wanda Hubbard earned their awards for their work in United States v. Battle. United States v. Jose Miguel Battle, Sr., et al., 04-20159-CR-GOLD (S.D. Fla.), was a 25 defendant, RICO Conspiracy case involving murder, arson, illegal gambling, interstate theft, money laundering and narcotics trafficking. The indictment charged 25 members of the hierarchy of one the nation’s largest organized crime syndicates called “The Corporation.” The Corporation operated in multiple jurisdictions in the United States, including South Florida, New York, and New Jersey; with money laundering schemes extending to various domestic and foreign locations, including Peru, Spain, Panama, Switzerland, the Cayman Islands, Curaçoa, the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands.
The defendants were charged with participating in a racketeering conspiracy that began in 1964 and continued through 2004. The murders committed by the Corporation included those of a 3 year-old child and her 17 year-old babysitter who were killed in a fire, the murder of a former Corporation hit man who was gunned down in the 1970’s after turning against the Corporation, the murder of a witness in protective police custody willing to testify against a Corporation hit man, and the murder of a Corporation rival who was killed in a hospital by an assassin disguised as a nurse.
The trial lasted over 6 months and included use of over 500 boxes of evidence and involved 28 wiretaps. The evidence meticulously revealed the vast scope of the 40 year conspiracy. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury specifically found the defendants guilty of, among other things, eight murders and seven arsons resulting in deaths. Additionally, the jury returned forfeiture verdicts of $1.4 billion. The United States has already seized in excess of $30 million in currency and other assets belonging to the defendants. As a result of this prosecution, one of the nation’s longest running criminal syndicates was completely incapacitated and dismantled.
Tony, David and Alicia received the John Marshall Award for Trial of Litigation for their work in six month presentation of the case at trial. AUSA Alison Lehr and Litigation Support Assistant Wanda Hubbard received awards from the Director of the Executive Office of United States Attorneys for Superior Performance by a Litigative Team, for their hard work in pulling together the evidence needed to support the criminal trial, asset seizures and forfeitures.
The Executive Office for United States Attorneys 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.usdoj .gov/usao.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.