Search The Site

Archive for the ‘Criminal Division’ Category

2013 Record Year for Medicare Fraud Strike Force
January 28th, 2014 Posted by

Courtesy of Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division

Every day, the nation’s health care system is victimized by criminals intent on lining their own pockets at the expense of the American taxpayer, patients and private insurers. And every day, members of the Justice Department’s Medicare Fraud Strike Force aggressively investigate and prosecute these criminals, put them in prison, and prevent them from stealing millions from U.S. taxpayers.

Since its inception in March 2007, strike force prosecutors – under the supervision of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices in nine cities across the country and in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services – have charged more than 1,700 defendants who have collectively billed the Medicare program more than $5.5 billion. In Fiscal Year 2013 alone, the strike force secured records in the number of cases filed (137), individuals charged (345), guilty pleas secured (234) and jury trial convictions (46). Beyond these remarkable results, the defendants who were charged and sentenced are facing significant time in prison – an average of 52 months in prison for those sentenced in FY 2013, and an average of 47 months in prison for those sentenced since 2007.

According to a recent report by the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, for every dollar the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services have spent fighting health care fraud, we’ve returned an average of nearly eight dollars to the U.S. Treasury, the Medicare Trust Fund and others. And these actions have helped to deter other would-be criminals from even attempting to defraud the Medicare program.

We can all be proud of this remarkable progress, but this is just the beginning. We have made combating health care fraud part of our core mission at the Department of Justice, and we are determined to keep moving forward – to thwart ongoing fraud schemes, to hold accountable those who steal from the Medicare program and to prevent this conduct from happening in the future.

Working Together to Support Victims of Human Trafficking
April 10th, 2013 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It originally appeared on the Department of Homeland Security blog.

This morning, I joined Senior Advisor to President Obama Valerie Jarrett and Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House Forum on Combating Human Trafficking where we announced the Administration’s latest effort to combat the hidden crime of human trafficking and help victims of human trafficking. During the forum, we released a draft Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking, which will be open for public comment for 45 days.

Developed collaboratively with federal partners including the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and Labor, and with leadership and guidance from the White House, this plan will better coordinate efforts across the federal government to identify, rescue, and support victims. You can view the plan and provide your comments here. When final, the Plan will complement and advance anti-trafficking efforts already underway at DHS.

Nearly three years ago, we launched the DHS Blue Campaign to unite the Department’s effort to combat human trafficking and leverage our relationships with other federal agencies, state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and international partners.

Last year alone, we received more tips through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) tip line than ever before, investigated a historic amount of cases and rescued more victims of human trafficking, and provided support to over 1,200 human trafficking victims. We have also expanded our victim assistance program, and will continue to make combating human trafficking a priority.

Working together, we can take comprehensive action to stop this terrible crime, rescue victims, and put perpetrators behind bars. We look forward to receiving your feedback.

To learn more about human trafficking and what you can do, please visit www.dhs.gov/bluecampaign and the Blue Campaign Facebook page.

New Network Takes Aim at Cyber Threats to National Security
November 14th, 2012 Posted by

Amidst a continuing increase in national security-related cyber attacks and intrusions targeting America, the National Security Division (NSD), in partnership with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) and U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country, last week launched a new, nationwide program focused on combating cyber-based terrorism and state sponsored computer intrusions. 

Federal prosecutors from around the country convened at Justice Department headquarters from November 7-9 for the inaugural meeting of the National Security Cyber Specialists – or NSCS – network, to receive specialized training and discuss new strategies for combating cyber threats to national security.  The NSCS network, which consists of nearly 100 prosecutors from U.S. Attorney’s Offices nationwide and cyber experts from NSD and CCIPS, is a new tool in the government’s cyber tool kit and a critical part of the department’s efforts to better address cyber intrusions and attacks carried out by nation states or terrorist organizations.

Where attacks against America’s digital infrastructure were once primarily the work of criminal hackers and others seeking profit or acclaim, today, national security threat actors are also increasingly looking for opportunities to exploit cyberspace to achieve their objectives.  Numerous sophisticated state actors are known to be using the internet for espionage and cyber intrusions targeting America’s vital military and economic secrets.  And while terrorists have yet to launch a major cyber attack against this country, they have already used the internet to facilitate bomb plots  against the United States, and have exhorted individuals with cyber expertise to exploit U.S. cyber vulnerabilities — weaknesses they liken to the vulnerability of U.S. airline security before September 11.

Lisa Monaco, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said at a cyber conference last month in Seattle:

 “We often think of national security threats, like that of a catastrophic terrorist attack, as questions about prevention. But the cyber threat is not simply looming – it is here.  It is present and growing.”

The NSCS network is a creation of the Justice Department’s NSD, working in partnership with CCIPS, the Cybercrime and Intellectual Property Enforcement Subcommittee of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, and the U.S. Attorney community.  Recognizing the emerging cyber threat from nation states and terrorists, and building on the groundwork laid by CCIPS and the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property coordinators in combating cyber crimes, last year NSD undertook a comprehensive review of its cyber-related efforts to determine how it could contribute most to U.S. efforts to combat cyber threats to national security. 

In April 2012, the division completed its review and charted short- and long-term goals, which included as a top priority the creation of a nationwide network of headquarters and field personnel trained and equipped to handle national security-related cyber issues.  In June of this year, NSD established the NSCS at Justice Department headquarters by bringing together individuals from across NSD and CCIPS to work collaboratively on cyber national security issues and to serve as a one-stop shop for prosecutors and agents around the country when they learn of national security-related cyber intrusions and for reporting from private sector entities.  The headquarters component of the network is intended to harness talent and expertise from across the Department to attack these problems from all angles and identify possible case overlaps and potential leads. 

To build upon the steps taken at headquarters, in July 2012, each of the 93 U.S. Attorney’s Offices designated one or more cleared attorneys to act as force multipliers, broadening the network’s reach.  U.S. Attorneys will also play a critical role in the network, leading the engagement of their particular districts.  Drawing on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force model, which has been successful in the counterterrorism realm, this network will improve the flow of national security cyber information to and from offices around the country.

To equip this large cyber cadre in how to best address these new threats, the department has developed and carried out extensive training.  Last week’s inaugural NSCS conference covered topics ranging from digital evidence, to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, to current threat trends, to common challenges in combating national security cyber threats specifically.  Underscoring the importance of this mission, Attorney General Eric Holder, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Assistant Attorney General Monaco, and others from the department and the FBI addressed the network throughout the three-day conference.  This event followed specialized training by NSD and CCIPS in October for all members of the NSCS network at Justice Department headquarters, and a more general training on basic cyber issues for approximately another 100 headquarters attorneys.

With the network built, the department will be able to accelerate some of the national security cyber work that has been ongoing since NSD’s cyber review.  In particular, the network will help strengthen partnerships between the department and agencies across the U.S. government, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and various elements of the Intelligence Community.  The network also will work particularly closely with the FBI’s National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF) to help preserve all intelligence collection, prevention, disruption and response options for cyber national security threats.  NSD has already installed a dedicated liaison to NCIJTF.  In addition, the NSCS network will be increasing its outreach to the private sector to engage businesses and individuals in the cyber discussion and help prevent attacks and intrusions.  Through these private sector alliances, the network will gain a better understanding of private sector cyber security concerns.

Going forward, the NSCS network is focused on ensuring a whole-of-government and all-tools approach to combating cyber threats to national security.  The network will be working to bring investigations and prosecutions as viable options for deterrence and disruption as part of the government-wide response to these threats.  The network will also be advising and consulting other parts of the government in the use of additional tools to counter these threats.

As Assistant Attorney General Monaco stated last month in Seattle:

 “The diversity of cyber threats and threat actors demands a diverse response.  This nation has many tools – intelligence, law enforcement, military, diplomatic, and economic – at its collective disposal, as well as deep and diverse expertise.  The trick is in harnessing our collective resources to work effectively together.” 

Through the creation of the NSCS network, the department is ensuring that the full power of its collective resources is brought to bear against national security cyber threats.

Confronting Transnational Organized Crime and Human Trafficking in a Global Society
November 6th, 2012 Posted by

On November 5th, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole addressed the 81st INTERPOL Ministerial and General Assembly meeting in Rome, Italy. This gathering of INTERPOL member countries marked an important opportunity to recognize joint achievements, build relationships, discuss issues critical to our domestic and global security, and develop a path forward on international law enforcement.

Deputy Attorney General Cole noted the unprecedented level of cooperation between INTERPOL member countries which has led to the development of critical law enforcement tools of 24/7 communication, information sharing and coordinated responses.  He also emphasized two important areas that would benefit greatly from INTERPOL’s continued leadership and support and member countries’ investment, vigilance and cooperation: Transnational Organized Crime and Human Trafficking.

 “Transnational organized crime poses a significant and growing threat to the security of each of our nations (and citizens) and the international community as a whole.  Not only are criminal networks expanding, but they are also diversifying their activities – with dire implications for public safety, public health, democratic institutions and, in this already tough economic climate, the financial stability of nations across the globe.  The United Nations estimates that, in 2009, transnational organized criminal activities generated $870 billion in illegal proceeds – equivalent to almost 7 percent of world exports.” 

To respond to the threat of transnational organized crime, Deputy Attorney General Cole called for a “whole-of-government approach” focused on coordinating resources and expertise: 

“We realized that law enforcement measures alone would not fully counter the threat of transnational organized crime.  Included in this approach was: the work of our Department of the Treasury to impose financial sanctions on major transnational organized crime groups and individuals; and the work of our Department of State to deny entry to the United States to transnational criminal aliens and others who have been targeted for financial sanctions.  As a direct result of these actions, five transnational organized crime groups that span the globe already have been subjected to these crippling financial sanctions.”

Deputy Attorney General Cole also stressed the need for “enhanced global attention and a unified law enforcement response” to fight against human trafficking:

“One of the greatest horrors of this crime is that traffickers view their victims as nothing more than a commodity, something that can be bought and sold, or simply taken, and eventually discarded… This crime can take many forms. It is the young woman who moves to another country for the promise of a new life – but instead finds herself enslaved and repeatedly sold for sex. Or the child who ran away from home and finds herself in the same situation because, in desperate need, she accepted help from the wrong person.” 

Although the specific details may differ, these heinous crimes often have two common elements.  First, human trafficking  is hidden in plain sight – behind the veil of a prostitution offense, a domestic abuse incident, a physical or sexual assault, a labor dispute, or an immigration crime.  Second, victims are often traumatized, and can be weary of – and reluctant to corporate with – law enforcement officials for fear of repercussions from their captors. This is why educating first responders about the factors that may indicate a potential human trafficking offense is a critical step in improving our ability to identify and help trafficking victims. 

In front of an international audience, Deputy Attorney General Cole reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to preventing and fighting human trafficking in all of its forms. Last year, the department set a new record in the number of defendants charged in human trafficking cases. Additionally, over the last three years, there has been a 30 percent increase in the number of forced labor and human trafficking cases charged. 

The United States has also partnered with law enforcement officials from Mexico and Ukraine, to Germany and Canada to dismantle sex traffic networks and successfully bring perpetrators behinds these crimes to justice. This work – which showcases the value of engaging in global partnerships to combat human trafficking –sends an unmistakable message: we will relentlessly pursue those who trade in the misery of other human beings and we will rescue their victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.

However, these efforts are only the beginning. To successfully combat human trafficking, as Deputy Attorney General said, “prosecution alone is not the answer,” which is why we are bringing a renewed focus to preventative measures like:

  • Prevention through prosecution of trafficking rings before they can ensnare other victims;
  • prevention through deterrence so that our prosecutions dissuade others who may consider engaging in this crime;
  • prevention through public awareness; and, lastly,
  • prevention through the education of potential victims who, driven by fear, poverty, or lack of education, often unwittingly place their lives in the hands of exploitative traffickers.

No single country or law enforcement agency has the power, or the means, to tackle the global criminal enterprises we face.  Only by communicating effectively, sharing intelligence and combining resources – within our own governments and with our law enforcement partners around the globe – can we truly understand current and emerging trends and build effective strategies to anticipate, combat and put an end to these crimes. 

 

Asset Forfeiture Notifications: More Efficient and Cost-Effective Than Ever
October 12th, 2012 Posted by

Today, the Department of Justice announced a change to the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act (CAFRA), effective immediately, which will allow federal law enforcement agencies to advertise certain public forfeiture notices online, at a reduced cost, at www.forfeiture.gov. This will save approximately $6.2 million each year in administrative costs. Those savings will remain in the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund and be used to fight fraud, drug trafficking and violent crime. 

Traditionally, law enforcement agencies have published public forfeiture notices in newspapers. Starting in 2007, the department began advertising public forfeiture notices that were part of judicial proceedings on the Internet. This saved approximately $1.5 million per year.

The department will now begin also advertising administrative forfeiture notices online as well. These are notices that do not require judicial involvement. Because of the volume of administrative forfeiture notices, the department expects savings to increase fivefold, for a combined total savings of $7.7 million per year.

Taxpayers deserve to know that we’re using their money responsibly, and by lowering administrative costs, the department can focus more resources towards protecting Americans and upholding our nation’s laws.  Today’s change simplifies the notification process and increases the availability of information, ensuring that more of the ill-gotten gains from criminal activities will be available to fight crime.

The department currently offers the benefits of this online platform to other federal law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Secret Service. By expanding this program to even more agencies, including Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, we can save additional taxpayer dollars.

This initiative is part of Attorney General Eric Holder’s SAVE Council, which was established in July 2010 to direct and oversee efforts to identify and implement best practices for saving taxpayer money, realizing efficiencies and monitoring the department’s savings progress.

For more information about the Attorney General’s SAVE Council, visit http://www.justice.gov/ag/save-council.html.

POSTED IN: Criminal Division  |  PERMALINK
Project Diamante: Assisting Our International Partners
August 10th, 2012 Posted by

Today marks the completion of Phase I training of Project Diamante in Mexico City.  Project Diamante is a comprehensive, capacity-building effort developed by professionals of the Department of Justice to reform and modernize Mexico’s criminal justice system. 

Since 2009, the Department of Justice has provided major technical assistance to Mexico through the Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training (OPDAT) and the International Criminal Investigative Training Program (ICITAP) as Mexico strives to strengthen local efforts in the investigation of complex crimes.

As part of these programs, our experts, including from the Criminal Division’s Office of Enforcement Operations and Office of International Affairs, have instructed their Mexican counterparts in a variety of critical areas, including criminal procedure code reform, forensic training, drafting of witness protection legislation, investigative techniques, extradition and mutual legal assistance, organizational development, human trafficking, and intellectual property rights violations. 

In addition, since February 2012, experienced instructors have been training hundreds of Mexican prosecutors, investigators, and forensic experts for Project Diamante.  This collaboration represents a truly historic effort bringing together American and Mexican officials to assist the Latin American nation as it continues its planned transition from an inquisitorial criminal justice system to one that is more open and adversarial. 

Project Diamante’s curriculum aims to lay a solid foundation for building – and maintaining – more robust legal institutions by increasing transparency and improving key skills among members of Mexico’s law enforcement community. As Phase I ends, we look forward to the next phases of this ambitious program, which are designed to institutionalize the training and thereby ensure that future generations of Mexican law enforcement receive this vital foundation.  In Phases II and III, Mexico will move toward institutionalizing Project Diamante training in its academies so that its next generation of prosecutors, investigators and forensic experts receives the same training and has the same essential foundation for their important work.

On marking the completion of the first class of the Project Diamante initiative, Attorney General Eric Holder said:

“I believe that we can all be encouraged by today’s celebration and the broad-based engagement between our countries. With the personal commitment from the highest levels of my government, we can both confront increasingly complex and cross border issues head on with a renewed sense of cooperation, solidarity and partnership.”

Project Diamante is just one of the Justice Department’s many global efforts designed to foster and develop the rule of law among our critical partners around the world.  Over the past 25 years, ICITAP and OPDAT have drawn on the department’s resources and our employees’ expertise to strengthen foreign criminal justice sector institutions and enhance the administration of justice abroad.  

ICITAP and OPDAT programs support the department’s wider law enforcement objectives and priorities by preparing foreign counterparts to cooperate more fully and effectively with the United States in combating terrorism, human trafficking, organized crime, corruption, financial crimes, and other transnational crimes.  They achieve these goals by encouraging legislative and justice sector reform in countries with inadequate laws; improving the skills of foreign prosecutors, investigators, forensic experts and judges; and promoting the rule of law and highlighting the importance of human rights.

POSTED IN: Criminal Division  |  PERMALINK
 
Search The Blog


Stay Connected YouTube Twitter Facebook Sign Up for E-Mail Updates Subscribe to News Feeds