Attorney General Awards To One Dozen Members Of US Attorney’s Office

LAWFUEL – The Law Newswire – Twelve members of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California were honored today at the Justice Department’s 55th Annual Awards Ceremony at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas P. O’Brien and Alexander A. Bustamante were given the Justice Department’s highest award – the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service – for their roles in the successful prosecution of four gang members involved in a conspiracy to assault and murder African-Americans in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles.

O’Brien, who is chief of the office’s Criminal Division and who has been nominated by President Bush to become the United States Attorney, obtained the indictment against members of the Avenues gang. Bustamante, along with a Justice Department trial attorney, secured the convictions against the four gang members, who were each given prison terms of life without parole (see:

Acting Deputy Attorney General Craig S. Morford joined Acting Attorney General Peter D. Keisler in presenting the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service to the team responsible for this groundbreaking prosecution of four gang members who participated in a six-year racially-motivated campaign of violence. The innovative and aggressive approach pursued in this case marked the first and, currently, the only time the federal hate crime statutes have been used to prosecute racial violence carried out by members of a street gang. Also receiving the award was Special Agent Jerry E. Fradella of the Los Angeles Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Five prosecutors from Los Angeles and the Orange County branch office received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service, which is the Department’s second-highest award for employee performance. Assistant United States Attorneys Mark R. Aveis, Joey L. Blanch, Mark Childs, Terri K. Flynn and Stephen G. Wolfe have all played significant roles in the ongoing prosecution of members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang. Also honored today was Special Agent Michael T. Halualani of the Los Angeles Field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The case against the Aryan Brotherhood is believed to be the largest racketeering case, in terms of number of defendants, ever brought in the United States. So far, approximately 30 members of the prison gang have been convicted (see:

Assistant United States Attorneys Gary Plessman, David K. Barrett and Cathy J. Ostiller, along with auditor Jeffrey A. McVicker, were among 14 Justice Department employees honored for their work on the case that led Tenet Healthcare to pay $900 million to settle allegations that it overbilled the Medicare program (see: Plessman, Barrett , Ostiller and McVicker, who are members of the United States Attorney’s Office Civil Fraud Section, received the Attorney General’s Award for Fraud Prevention, which is given to those who demonstrate exceptional dedication and effort to prevent, investigate and prosecute fraud.

Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy C. Kim received the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service for her work on a team that obtained the largest-ever criminal penalty in a case involving deliberate pollution from ships. Overseas Shipholding Group paid $37 million for discharging polluted waters from several of its cargo ships (see:

“The large number of recipients in this office demonstrates the high quality of work being done by every attorney and member of the support staff,” said United States Attorney George S. Cardona. “The members of this U.S. Attorney’s Office, which serves more residents than any other office, have consistently dedicated the extraordinary time and effort required to pursue the biggest and most challenging cases.”

The 12 local award recipients were among 191 Justice Department employees and 26 other individuals who were honored today.

Peter Keisler, Acting Attorney General, stated: “Today’s award recipients are extraordinarily dedicated and talented men and women. They’ve made incredible sacrifices, and achieved great successes, working on the front lines of the Justice Department on behalf of the American people. I’m proud to have them as my colleagues as we work to advance the Department’s mission.”

Release No. 07-124

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