LAWFUEL – US Legal news – Kevin V. Ryan completes his tenure this Friday as the 48th U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. The prosecutions under Mr. Ryan’s 4 ½-year tenure cover a wide range of areas including white collar crime, gang and violent crime, securities fraud, cybercrime, organized crime drug rings, healthcare fraud, child exploitation cases, alien harboring, and tax cases. Outside of the courtroom, Ryan has considerably diversified the office by hiring and promoting a significant number of extraordinary women and minorities. Mr. Ryan, who previously served as a California Superior Court Judge, was recently named one of the top 100 California Lawyers of 2006 by the San Francisco Daily Journal.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve as the United States Attorney. I sincerely thank all of the staff at the office for their hard work to make our community a safer place to live. I also thank all of our partners in law enforcement who have put in countless hours in investigating and prosecuting crimes in Northern California.”
“Kevin was instrumental in bringing diversity to the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Superior Court Judge C. Don Clay, who served as Ryan’s top deputy from 2002-2003. “The women and minorities he hired fundamentally changed the dynamic of the office for the better. One of the things I noticed in working with Kevin was that he was not afraid to make people accountable for their actions. Most importantly, Kevin brought courage to, and a fresh look at, complex problems that merited the government’s attention. Kevin was not afraid to pursue complex cases and issues, like terrorism, Balco, stock options backdating, and corporate fraud.”
Gangs and Violent Crime:
Ryan’s tenure has been noted for taking an aggressive stance in criminal street gang cases, and using powerful federal RICO statutes to take violent offenders off the street. The office has also been productive in aggressively prosecuting felons possessing firearms as part of the President’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. Outside of the courtroom, Ryan has been instrumental in securing over $3 million in federal funding to weed out the worst offenders, and to provide organizations with funding to create and sustain community development programs and initiatives. Ryan supported the Northern District Gang Prevention Summit, which worked to build relationships to help prevent gang violence by bringing together nationally renowned experts, community leaders, policy makers, and law enforcement officials to discuss ongoing efforts to prevent gang violence.
Police Chief Heather Fong said, “We have had great successes, at all levels, because of our partnership with the Office of the U.S. Attorney. In San Francisco, we have made significant accomplishments in suppressing gun and gang violence, as well as human trafficking, due to our collaboration with the U. S. Attorney. All of us will miss U. S. Attorney Kevin Ryan and his support and energy for our law enforcement endeavors.”
Some noteworthy cases in this area include:
In October 2005, twelve members of the Down Below Gang – a violent street gang in San Francisco – were indicted on charges of seven murders and seven attempted murders. Eight pleaded guilty in December 2006. Four of those convicted received sentences of 15 years or more in federal prison.
In March 2006, 15 associates of the Project Trojan criminal street gang in North Richmond individuals were indicted on conspiracy drug dealing charges.
In March 2006, the final two defendants in a four-year prosecution – which netted 35 convictions of members and associates of the Big Block gang in San Francisco – were sentenced to 20 and 23 years in prison respectively.
“In my five years as City Attorney, Kevin Ryan helped forge an unprecedented level of cooperation between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and mine on issues like gang violence and others.” said San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera. “Kevin has demonstrated himself to be an extremely capable, forward-thinking leader, and I’m confident he will continue to be an important force in the legal community for the cause of justice.”
“Over the years, the San Francisco Police Bureau of Investigations has enjoyed an extremely close working relationship with U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan,” said Deputy Chief of Police Morris Tabak. “His office has been instrumental in charging many of San Francisco’s gang related murders and other gang associated crimes. An example is the many federal indictments issued resulting in the arrests of members of the Big Block, West Mob, Page Street and most recently the Down Below gangs, essentially dismantling them as a result. We also thank the U.S. Attorney for prosecuting a major out-of-state gun smuggling operation that was supplying firearms to San Francisco gang members. San Francisco is truly a much safer city today thanks to Kevin Ryan.”
Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff stated, “During his term as United States Attorney, Kevin has been a great supporter of local law enforcement. He understood the issues we face and was always willing to work with us to protect our communities. I wish him the best in all future endeavors.”
White Collar Crime, Securities Fraud, Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property, Environmental Crimes:
As a member of the President’s Corporate Fraud Task Force and the Department of Justice’s Intellectual Property Task Force, Kevin V. Ryan has overseen a number of significant ‘firsts’ in the prosecution of white collar crime and intellectual property offenses. Notably, Ryan established the Northern California U.S. Attorney’s Office as a national leader in prosecuting stock options backdating cases after he formed the Northern California Stock Options Backdating Task Force. The office also had numerous successes in computer hacking and intellectual property, environmental crimes, as well as over $129.4 million in payments from two large healthcare fraud cases.
Some of the noteworthy cases in these areas include:
The country’s first indictment for stock options backdating offenses against two executives of Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Three Enron executives were convicted for their role in manipulating the energy markets during the California Energy Crisis.
Williams Power Company paid $50 million in a deferred prosecution agreement for knowingly submitting false natural gas price data to benefit their position in the market. Additionally, six natural gas traders have pleaded guilty for manipulating natural gas prices.
The first conviction for pretexting involving Hewlett-Packard officials and journalists
Two founders and four brokers of the Dorean Group have been indicted for their role in a fraudulent “mortgage elimination scheme.” Investigators are continuing to investigate more than 550 properties throughout 35 states with a potential value of greater than $88 million in loans that may have been affected by this alleged scheme
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister, Pavel Lazarenko, was sentenced in August 2006 to nine years in prison and ordered to pay a $10 million fine for extorting over $40 million dollars from Ukrainian citizens and laundering over $20 million through American banks.
Endovascular Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Guidant Corporation, pleaded guilty to 10 felonies and agreed to pay $92.4 million to resolve criminal and civil charges that it covered up thousands of incidents in which a medical device used to treat aneurysms in the aorta malfunctioned. Among the thousands of incidents covered up by the company were 12 deaths and dozens of invasive surgeries.
InterMune, Inc., a Brisbane, California biopharmaceutical company, agreed to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and to pay nearly $37 million to resolve criminal charges and civil liability in connection with its illegal promotion and marketing of its drug Actimmune (Interferon gamma-1b) in October 2006.
Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property – The CHIP Unit:
The CHIP Unit, which is based in the San Jose branch of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, was established in 2000 and was the first federal specialized prosecution unit in a U.S. Attorney’s Office. This model has been followed in other U.S. Attorney’s Offices and there are now about twenty-five CHIP Units in offices around the country. Some of the noteworthy cases prosecuted by this unit include:
The country’s first conviction for violations of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996. Additionally, the CHIP Unit brought the second and third indictments in the country under the ten years of this statute. These cases involve trade secrets stolen with the intent to benefit foreign governments, including China, Malaysia, and Thailand.
Operation Remaster netted approximately 494,000 CDs and 5,500 stampers in what the Recording Industry Association of America said was the largest seizure of counterfeit CDs in the country at that time. All three defendants in that case have pleaded guilty.
Operation Copycat has yielded 35 convictions. Defendants have pleaded guilty to illegally distributing pirated movies, games and software over the Internet. Two film critics who sold pre-release movies for illegal distribution have been convicted, and the operation has yielded the first convictions in the country for camcording in a movie theater and uploading “pre-release” movies on the Internet.
One of the world’s largest shipping companies, A.P. Moller-Maersk, A/S of Denmark pleaded guilty in September 2005 to providing false documents to the U.S. Coast Guard during a routine inspection of one of its cargo ships to ensure compliance with the international MARPOL treaty, which limits oil pollution from ships.
Earlier this week, Mr. Ryan announced that $1.5 million has been designated for rehabilitating and restoring marine wildlife habitat in the San Francisco Bay to further protect the California leopard shark. Over $900,000 came from payments by a San Leandro church, and restitution by the church’s pastor and five other criminal defendants who were involved with an operation that poached thousands of California leopard sharks from the San Francisco Bay for more than ten years.
U.S. Attorney Ryan has overseen the Balco steroids prosecution, which has resulted in five felony convictions to date, exposed the harmful side-effects of doping, and has shined a light on the surprisingly widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. Since the initiation of the investigation, more than 15 athletes have been disciplined by regulators in their various sports. Congress has held extensive hearings on steroids in sports, including taking testimony from Major League Baseball players, and has classified Norbolethone and THG as Schedule III drugs. The U.S. Sentencing Commission has toughened federal sentencing guidelines for steroids-related offenses.
San Mateo District Attorney Jim Fox stated, “I have enjoyed the working relationship that my office has had with Kevin. In the cases we worked together, the level of cooperation was fabulous. I wish him the best.”
Some of the noteworthy cases that the office has prosecuted to protect the most vulnerable members of our society include:
In the first prosecution of its kind, Peace Corps volunteer Timothy Obert pleaded guilty in February 2006 to sexually assaulting a minor while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica.
In July 2005, a creator of child pornography websites, Edward Aaron Harvey, was indicted with advertisement of child pornography, transportation and attempted transportation of child pornography, and money laundering. Five subscribers from the Northern District of California were also charged.
Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force – The OCDETF Section:
“Kevin always demonstrated great integrity and moral courage and could be counted upon to follow his convictions on controversial issues, including his defense of the Patriot Act and the prosecution of large scale marijuana traffickers who were hiding behind medical marijuana as a defense to their multi-million dollar drug trafficking operations,” stated Ron Brooks, Director of the Northern California High Intensity Drug Task Force. “Because of his vision, Kevin and his office were engaged in the early stages of the fight against to stop the violent street gangs that are threatening our neighborhoods. He was a leader in supporting the vigorous enforcement and prosecution of gang related crimes but he also recognized the importance of preventing gang crimes before they happen. Kevin was an innovator in Northern California by using his Project Safe Neighborhoods Grant Program to develop and fund prevention and outreach programs. He will be remembered by his colleagues as a tough but fair prosecutor, a champion of public safety, a person who placed service to his community before himself; and in my opinion, the finest United States Attorney I have ever known.”
Operation Ice Ax has resulted in the indictment of 19 individuals for conspiracy to distribute and distribution of methamphetamine and cocaine throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and Hawaii in May 2006.
“It has been a privilege to work side-by-side with U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan in helping to make Northern California and the San Francisco Bay community a safer place for all citizens,” said Special Agent in Charge Javier Pena. “When you are fighting international drug traffickers everyday, I can’t tell you how important it is to have a U.S. Attorney who is as equally dedicated to the challenge at hand. In Kevin, DEA is losing a great partner and Northern California is losing a great asset to the community. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Alien Harboring, Public Corruption, and other Notable Cases:
Additionally, Mr. Ryan oversaw a number of cases involving public corruption, alien harboring, and public safety. Some of the noteworthy cases in this area include:
Five California DMV employees and five “brokers” were charged and convicted in 2005 and 2006 for their role in selling hundreds of fraudulent California Driver’s Licenses for up to $4,500.
Operation Gilded Cage has charged over 30 Bay Area brothel owners and others involved in the operation of massage parlors that allegedly harbored aliens for commercial advantage. Numerous defendants have pleaded guilty to date.
Deputy District Attorney Robert Roland was convicted of accepting drugs from state court defendants in February 2006. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
Four defendants were convicted and sentenced for stealing over 700 pounds of explosives from law enforcement bunkers on July 4, 2004.
Marcus O. Armstrong, formerly the highest-ranking technology officer in San Francisco’s Department of Building Inspection, pleaded guilty to public corruption charges in July 2003, admitting that he defrauded San Francisco taxpayers out of more than half a million dollars through a phony invoicing and kickback scheme.
Some of the noteworthy cases prosecuted by the Tax Division include:
In April 2005, prominent estate planner and tax specialist Owen George Fiore pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $626,623 in restitution.
In December 2004, offshore tax shelter promoter and Canadian resident Jerome Schneider was sentenced to six months in prison, in addition to a $4,000 fine and $100,000 restitution, for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan concluded, “It has been an honor and privilege to have served as U.S. Attorney. I thank the staff at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for their hard work on behalf of the Northern District of California, the Justice Department and the American people.”