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A New Standard for Effective Collaboration
November 14, 2011 Posted by

Today Attorney General Holder traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to join Prosecutor General Radhaméz Jiménez Peña in signing an important asset sharing agreement that marks the culmination of a major international fraud case.

This agreement, which relates to an estimated $37 million in criminal assets that are currently being recovered by U.S. and Dominican officials, represents the opening of an historic new chapter in the strong record of law enforcement cooperation that has long defined the relationship between these two nations.

These millions stem from the case of the so-called Benitez Brothers, who defrauded the Medicare Program to the tune of an estimated $80 million. But the United States could not recover these assets, or ensure justice, alone. Fortunately, thanks to unprecedented levels of cooperation between American officials and their Dominican counterparts over a period of more than two years, we were able to conduct an exhaustive investigation and build a strong case.

With this agreement, these two nations set a new standard for effective collaboration. 20 percent of all assets recovered from this case with the office of the Prosecutor General of the Dominican Republic, who will put them to good use – improving prison facilities, combating organized crime, and providing security for witnesses who are crucial to the successful prosecution of criminal cases.

Today’s signing ceremony marks the fourth time in ten years that America’s government has recognized – through asset sharing – the remarkable forfeiture assistance that Dominican authorities have afforded to the United States. It reaffirms our common values, as well as our ongoing commitment to the goals that the United States and the Dominican Republic share: protecting our citizens, strengthening our borders, improving public safety, reducing recidivism, and preventing and combating gang- and drug-fueled crime and violence.

But today’s agreement is more than an encouraging step forward, and an affirmation of the shared desire to increase cooperation and collaboration, on one specific case. The U.S. and the Dominican Republic have entered into negotiations for a permanent agreement that will govern the asset sharing relationship long into the future. We look forward to the rapid conclusion of these negotiations, and to the timely adoption of such an agreement.

The Justice Department and the Attorney General are grateful to the attorneys, investigators, and law enforcement officers – in the United States as well as the Dominican Republic – whose efforts proved so instrumental in helping to bring the Benitez Brothers to justice.

Justice Department Honors Veterans
November 9, 2011 Posted by

On Wednesday the Department of Justice held its Veteran’s Appreciation Ceremony to honor and pay tribute to Department Veterans and to observe the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. Attorney General Eric Holder hosted the event in the Great Hall with Director Robert S. Mueller III of the FBI, a Vietnam Veteran, as the keynote speaker.

The ceremony honored the extraordinary group of 19,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors, and Marines who contribute to the Department’s missions as agents, attorneys, investigators, and support staff in offices all around the world. Attorney General Holder reflected on the legacy of service of the Veterans who chose to bring their skills and talent to the Department of Justice:

“Many of you have helped to lead the Department’s activities to protect the employment rights, voting rights, and financial security of veterans across the country. And today, on behalf of President Obama and my colleagues across the Administration, I’d like to thank you, once again, for your service. I also want to reaffirm the Department’s commitment to standing with you – not just on Veterans Day, but every day of the year – as we take this work to the next level.”

As a direct result of the Presidents Executive Order on the Employment of Veterans, The Justice Department’s Veterans Employment Office was established in March of 2010. Its mission is to recruit Veterans into the Department of Justice workforce as well as support training and retention of these Veterans. The office does this by participating in job fairs, transition workshops, seminars, and other Veteran specific events, as well as partnering with military transition and career centers, military installations, and through community outreach.

The Veterans Employment Office also works with the Office of Management Programs to incorporate veteran specific training and information for Justice Department human resources and hiring managers to attract and advance dedicated employees who have served their country.

Veterans looking for information about continuing their service with a job in the federal government should visit fedshirevets.gov

View Photos from the Event

Our Continuing Efforts to Prevent Youth Violence
November 8, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of  Attorney General Eric Holder.

Throughout my career, I have seen the devastating effects of youth violence far too often.  As a prosecutor and a judge; as a U.S. Attorney, as Deputy Attorney General – and, above all, as the father of three teenage children – I’ve been determined to make the progress that our nation’s young people deserve.  

In September of 2009, this country was shocked by a video depicting the brutal beating and murder of a 16-year-old Chicago honor student.  That savage attack was seared into our collective memory, and it left an indelible mark on the community where it took place.  But, tragically, it is just one horrifying example of the violence that many young people face every day, in cities and towns across this country.

In response to this crisis, last year, President Obama directed the Departments of Justice and Education to partner with other federal agencies – and with representatives from six cities – to launch the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a network of committed stakeholders dedicated to stopping the brutality and bloodshed that devastates too many of the youngest members of our society.  The six cities participating in the Forum — Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, Calif. and San Jose, Calif. — have made great strides toward developing and implementing comprehensive crime prevention strategies tailored to eradicating the violence that has ravaged their communities and stolen so many promising futures.

Last week, teams from these cities — comprised of law enforcement officers, policy and public-health experts, educators, researchers, city officials, social services providers, community and faith leaders, and concerned parents — gathered in Washington, D.C., to share their progress in using cost-effective and evidence-based strategies to prevent youth violence and help formerly incarcerated youth become productive citizens. 

Also last week, at a hearing before the House of Representatives’ Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security,  Congressmen Bobby Scott, John Conyers, and Steve Cohen congratulated Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs, and this Administration for our efforts on the Forum and urged us to keep up the important work. 

It’s clear that these efforts are already beginning to take hold.  For example, the City of Memphis launched a Crime Prevention Unit this year that includes 90 officers focused on reaching youth before they come in contact with the criminal justice system.   Meanwhile, officials in Chicago have established a Youth Shooting Review panel — a pilot project that reviews fatal and non-fatal shootings, drawing on both public health and criminal justice perspectives, to gain a more substantive understanding of their causes and context.  The panel will identify patterns, gaps in key services, and effective strategies to prevent shootings among school-age youth.  

Forum participants have also taken steps to better understand, and more thoroughly address, the joblessness, illiteracy, violence, and other challenges that formerly incarcerated young people often face when they return to their communities.  To improve the outcomes for these youth and help them become contributing community members, San Jose, Calif. has become part of a county-wide Reentry Network.  The Network provides assessment and programming to youth who are both in custody and in the community, along with resources to help them transition to a more stable, self-sufficient and successful lifestyle.

In each of these six cities, the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention has brought local experts together with federal officials and other key stakeholders, in order to share best practices; to develop strategies for reducing brutality among, and directed toward, young people; and to address and overcome common challenges. 

I’m proud to say that the work we are leading is sending an unmistakable message that, in this country, we will not give up on our children.  And it’s ensuring that the priorities we set now will allow America’s next generation of leaders to break destructive cycles and seize tomorrow’s opportunities.

Attorney General Meets with Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior
November 7, 2011 Posted by
Attorney General Holder receives the highest Bulgarian law enforcement award from Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov of Bulgaria

Attorney General Holder receives the highest Bulgarian law enforcement award from Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov of Bulgaria

Today, Attorney General Eric Holder met with Tsvetan Tsvetanov, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of the Republic of Bulgaria. They discussed law enforcement cooperation between the two countries in areas including organized crime, asset forfeiture and cybercrime.

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetanov presented Attorney General Holder with the highest Bulgarian law enforcement award – the First Degree Valour and Merit Insignia of Honour. The award recognized the Attorney General for “his exceptional merit to the development and enhancement of the co-operation between the Republic of Bulgaria and the United States of America in the area of security and home affairs.”

Attorney General Holder Meets with Iraqi Chief Justice
November 3, 2011 Posted by
Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Yesterday afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder met with Iraq’s Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood at the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Chief Justice and Attorney General reaffirmed their commitment to a continuing and strong relationship between their countries under the Strategic Framework Agreement.  The Chief Justice and the Attorney General also spoke about the strength and independence of the Iraqi judiciary and also the continuing challenges it faces.  The two also discussed the lengthy and productive relationship between the Department of Justice and the Iraqi Higher Judicial Council to foster the rule of law in Iraq. 

Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Attorney General Holder and Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmood

Chief Justice Medhat is in Washington, D.C. as part of a senior judicial delegation sent by the Government of Iraq.

For more information about the Department of Justice and Iraq, visit justice.gov/iraq

Supporting the Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Who Keep Our Nation Safe
October 25, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Keeping our nation safe from evolving terrorist threats requires strong partnerships at all levels.  Nowhere are those partnerships more important than with our federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officers who work on the frontlines every day to keep our cities and communities safe.

These courageous men and women, who put their lives on the line to protect others, must have the tools, training, and resources they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

This week at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) General Assembly in Chicago, we each had an opportunity to reiterate our support for police officers and first responders across our country, many of whom are struggling to hire or retain personnel in the face of tough economic challenges.

As part of ongoing work to better understand and overcome current fiscal challenges, this week, the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office released a new report on how the economic downturn has impacted police departments nationwide.

According to the department’s research, we expect that, by the end of this year, nearly 12,000 police officers and sheriff’s deputies will have been laid off.  Already, law enforcement agencies nationwide currently have nearly 30,000 unfilled vacancies.  And an estimated 28,000 more officers and deputies experienced week-long furloughs last year. In 25 years of collecting data, this is the first national decrease in law enforcement positions ever recorded.

There is great demand for existing federal fire fighter hiring funding.  In FY10 alone there were $1.8 billion in applications for $420 million in  SAFER funds.

Especially in these difficult economic times, the tough choices we are all facing should not come at the expense of public safety and national security.  And, fortunately, they don’t have to. The American Jobs Act would provide $5 billion in assistance to states and local communities to create and save thousands of police and first responder jobs across the country.  These funds would not only help to safeguard our national security and bolster public safety – they would strengthen our economy.

Passage of the American Jobs Act also would ensure that many of the critical partnerships we have established with local law enforcement can continue – and improve our ability to share information, to train frontline officers to recognize indicators of terrorism and crime, and to encouraging the public to be vigilant in reporting suspicious activity to appropriate authorities.

These steps provide a strong foundation for law enforcement at all levels to protect communities from terrorism and other threats. They also help us better understand the risks confronting the homeland while protecting the privacy rights and civil liberties of all Americans, and foster a strong relationship with the international community.

When it comes to advancing our public safety efforts, we simply can’t afford to wait. We must take action now to combat the economic conditions that have affected – and, in some communities, devastated – law enforcement agencies nationwide. We urge Congress to pass the American Jobs Act so that we can protect the men and women on the frontlines who protect us and contribute to our nation’s safety and security every day.

 
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