Operation Fast and Furious, the controversial gun-tracking effort that has prompted calls for some heads to roll at the Department of Justice, is having another side-effect: delaying a Senate vote on Kathryn Keneally, who has been nominated to be Assistant Attorney General to head DOJ’s Tax Division.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, says Keneally seems qualified and that he’s prepared to vote for her. “However, given the lack of cooperation I’m getting from the Department of Justice, I can’t commit to moving forward with her nomination on the Senate floor,” Grassley said last week as the furor over Fast and Furious seemed to peak.
Grassley has been among the loudest critics of Fast and Furious, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives allowed straw buyers to acquire hundreds of guns so that they could be tracked across the U.S.-Mexican border, helping law enforcement root out Mexican gangsters. The endeavor backfired mightily, as the ATF lost track of many of the weapons, two of which were found at the scene of a shootout a year ago in which a Border Patrol agent was killed.
Grassley has zeroed in on Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, accusing the Criminal Division chief not only of “incredibly poor judgment” but of being intentionally misleading in his statements about Fast and Furious. Grassley demanded last week that Breuer step down, or be fired by Attorney General Eric Holder (see Main Justice’s report).
Grassley has demanded that DOJ officials who are interviewed in the inquiry over Fast and Furious not double-team their questioners by being accompanied by both DOJ and personal lawyers. Until the DOJ cooperates, Keneally’s nomination may languish, even though Grassley said she demonstrated an impressive command of tax issues — impressive, at least, when compared to those of Mary Smith, whose nomination to head the Tax Division was withdrawn after her critics complained her main qualification was not expertise in tax matters but her political connections (see Main Justice’s report).
The Fast and Furious controversy could also stall the nomination of Kevin A. Ohlson, a high DOJ official and longtime aide to Holder, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, as Main Justice noted recently.
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Attorney General Eric Holder plans to attend the investiture for Indianapolis U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett on Friday, a spokeswoman in the U.S. Attorney’s office told Main Justice.
Hogsett was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana last October, and U.S. Attorneys often have ceremonial investitures later on, with local, state and federal leaders present.
This will be the 18th U.S. Attorney investiture Holder will have attended.
Glenn Ivey, who served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney under then-D.C. U.S. Attorney Eric Holder, has joined Venable LLP as a partner in its white collar and government-investigations practices, Compliance Week reported.
Most recently, Ivey served two terms as the state’s attorney for Prince George’s County, Md.
From 1990 to 1994, Ivey was a federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia. Under Holder’s supervision, Ivey prosecuted jury trials and handled numerous appeals and grand jury investigations.
He also has worked on Capitol Hill, as a senior legislative assistant to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chief counsel to former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee for Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.) when Sarbanes was ranking minority member of the panel that investigated business dealings of President Bill Clinton in the 1990s.
In the private sector, Ivey worked as a partner at Preston, Gates, Ellis (now K&L Gates LLP), handling legislative, regulatory and criminal matters.
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The Department of Justice plans to push for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in an attempt to support stalking victims, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli said Tuesday at a stalking awareness month program.
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), was originally passed in 1994 and reauthorized in 2000 and 2005. Although the original act was aimed at ending violence against women, the reauthorizations have included additional protections for battered immigrants, sexual assault survivors, victims of dating violence and under-served populations.
Since President Barack Obama declared January National Stalking Awareness Month, DOJ officials have amplified efforts to end stalking.
“The U.S. Attorneys’ offices are aggressively pursuing interstate stalking cases, often receiving referrals from our local law enforcement partners,” Perrelli said. “We are training our attorneys to understand the dynamics of stalking, including cyberstalking. And the Office on Violence Against Women funds the Stalking Resource Center, which provides technical assistance, training, and resource materials to organizations throughout the United States, including OVW grantees, to build capacity to effectively respond to stalking.”
Attorney General Eric Holder and the director of the Office on Violence Against Women, Susan B. Carbon, also spoke at the event. Also in attendance were Rebecca Dreke, senior program associate at the Stalking Resource Center at the National Center for Victims of Crime, and Cindy Southworth, director at the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Also present were stalking victim Hannah Perryman and her mother, Debbie Perryman, who spoke of the Illinois teenager’s experience being harassed by one of her peers in a series of episodes that eventually required police intervention.
The majority of children in America, 60 percent, are exposed to crime, violence and abuse, and it is a top priority to reduce it, according to Holder.
“This is unconscionable. And it is unacceptable,” he said.
Last year, DOJ launched the Defending Childhood Initiative in conjunction with the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office on Violence Against Women focused on preventing childhood violence and helping children overcome it.
“To date, eight communities have been selected as demonstration sites for testing strategies and compiling research,” Holder said.
“This is about making our communities and neighborhoods feel like places where people can build a family, a business, and a life, free from fear,” Perrelli said.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2010
REMARKS AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY BY ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER AT THE REGIONAL HEAT SUMMIT
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to join with Secretary Sebelius – and with U.S. Attorney [Carmen] Ortiz, Deputy Administrator [Peter] Budetti, Inspector General [Dan] Levinson, and Assistant Attorney General [Tony] West – in welcoming you all here. I want to thank Chancellor [J. Keith] Motley and the University of Massachusetts Boston for hosting us. And I want to thank each of you for your participation in today’s discussion – and for your partnership in our national fight against health-care fraud.
We can all be encouraged by the number of people, and the diversity of perspectives, represented here. I am glad to see that top federal and state officials; administration leaders; federal, state, and local law enforcement officers; health-care providers; as well as leading physicians, business executives, caregivers, investigators, and prosecutors have come together for this critical summit.
We share the same goals of protecting potential victims, safeguarding precious taxpayer dollars, and ensuring the strength of our health-care system. Here in Boston – a city known for its world-class medical and nursing schools, its health research institutions, its 14 teaching hospitals, and its historic leadership in expanding access to healthcare – I know that many of you have concerns about the devastating effects of health-care fraud. Despite the commitment you represent and the great work being done across Massachusetts and beyond – we can all agree that it’s time to take our nationwide fight against health-care fraud to the next level.
That’s what today is all about. This summit is an important step forward – an opportunity to build on what has been discussed, and achieved, since January – when Secretary Sebelius and I convened the first “National Summit on Health Care Fraud” in Washington. This past summer, we kicked off a series of regionally-focused conversations so that we could better understand, and more effectively address, the unique challenges being faced in different areas of the country. So far, Secretary Sebelius and I have been to Miami, Los Angeles, and New York. In the coming months, we plan to hold additional summits in Detroit, Philadelphia and Las Vegas. Like Boston, many of these cities have become “hot spots” for health-care fraud schemes. Here, and across New England, these crimes have reached crisis proportions, driving up health-care costs for everyone – and also hurting the long-term solvency of our essential Medicare and Medicaid programs.
But we are fighting back – in bold, innovative, and coordinated ways.
Last year brought an historic step forward in this fight – when the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services launched the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, known as “HEAT.” Through HEAT, we’ve fostered unprecedented collaboration among our agencies and our law enforcement partners. We’ve ensured that the fight against criminal and civil health-care fraud is a Cabinet-level priority. And we’ve strengthened the work – and the record of success – of our Medicare Strike Forces.
This approach is working.
In fact, HEAT’s impact has been recognized by President Obama, whose FY-2011 budget request includes an additional $60 million to expand our network of Strike Forces to additional cities and to increase our civil False Claims Act enforcement.
With these new resources, and our continued commitment to collaboration, I have no doubt we’ll be able to extend HEAT’s record of achievement. And this record – quite simply – is extraordinary.
In just the last fiscal year, we obtained settlements and judgments amounting to more than $2.5 billion in False Claims Act matters alleging health care fraud – the largest annual figure in history and an increase of more than 60% from fiscal year 2009. We also opened more than 2,000 new criminal and civil health-care fraud investigations, reached an all-time high in the number of health-care fraud defendants charged, stopped numerous large-scale fraud schemes in their tracks, and returned more than $2.5 billion to the Medicare Trust Fund and more than $800 million to cash-strapped state Medicaid programs.
This work continues to grow. Just yesterday, the Department announced settlements of more than $200 million with two pharmaceutical companies – Elan Corporation PLC, and its U.S. subsidiary Elan Pharmaceuticals Inc. – to resolve allegations of illegal and off-label marketing of an anti-seizure medication. And we can all be encouraged, in particular, by what’s been accomplished in Massachusetts.
As Assistant Attorney General West highlighted earlier today, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office in this district played a leading role in reaching historic settlements – including the largest health-care fraud settlement in history. Just last week, this district helped reach a settlement of more than $420 million with several pharmaceutical companies to resolve allegations of a scheme to report false and inflated prices – prices that federal healthcare programs rely on to set payment rates – for numerous pharmaceutical products.
In all, the District of Massachusetts has recovered, as [U.S. Attorney] Carmen [Ortiz] noted this morning, more than $4 billion in civil and criminal health-care fraud settlements over the past two years. That’s right – $4 billion. You should all be proud of these health-care-fraud enforcement efforts. I certainly am.
As figures like these demonstrate, health-care fraud schemes across this region are being aggressively and permanently shut down. This is the result of the hard work of many of the attorneys and investigators in this room. And, in particular, I want to note the great work being done by Boston’s “Special Focus Team,” which attacks large-scale, corporate health-care fraud – from pharmaceutical fraud to medical-device company fraud – head on. These efforts are providing proof that we can make measurable, meaningful progress in the fight against health-care fraud.
But we cannot do it alone.
We need your help. We need your insights. And we will rely on your recommendations to help guide and enhance HEAT’s critical work.
Despite all that’s been accomplished since HEAT was launched, health-care fraud remains a significant problem. At this very moment, for example, we know that an alarming number of scam artists and criminals are attempting to profit from misinformation about the Affordable Care Act, which Congress passed – and President Obama signed into law – earlier this year.
Fortunately, this landmark legislation provides new resources and includes tough new rules and penalties to help stop and prevent health-care fraud. And the Justice Department will continue to work vigorously with our law enforcement and private sector partners to ensure that those who engage in fraud cannot use this new law to steal from taxpayers, patients, seniors, and other vulnerable Americans. We will keep industry leaders informed about emerging fraud schemes and help institute effective compliance and anti-fraud programs. And we will punish offenders to the fullest extent of the law. That’s a promise.
As Secretary Sebelius and I do our part in Washington to build on the progress that’s been made in combating health-care fraud, we want to work closely with you – and with state and local officials, officers, leaders, and advocates across the country. Our continued success depends on the commitment we make, the priorities we establish, and the partnerships we forge now. And your presence here today gives me great hope about what we can accomplish together going forward.
Thank you all, once again, for joining us and for your ongoing commitment to protecting the American people and ensuring the strength and integrity of our health-care system. I look forward to working with you all.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday cautioned farmers and producers at a workshop in D.C. that Justice Department antitrust enforcement in the agriculture industry won’t fix all their troubles.
Holder said the DOJ has heard the concerns of producers and farmers at several previous workshops about competition in the agriculture industry. The Attorney General said he and his colleagues in the Barack Obama administration are working to bring “market transparency, market access and market fairness” to the industry.
“Of course, we know that antitrust enforcement actions will not solve every problem. We know that,” Holder said. “But because of the insights that you have provided … I believe that we will be better prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure a fair and competitive marketplace both for producers as well as consumers.”
The Antitrust Division under Assistant Attorney General Christine Varney has been active in taking on antitrust concerns in the agriculture industry.
Varney has been a constant presence at agriculture workshops across the country about competition issues. And her division has acted on antitrust concerns, taking on companies including dairy giant Dean Foods. The DOJ sued the company in January to undo its 2009 purchase of some milk processing plants in Wisconsin.
The DOJ and Agriculture Department, which hosted the workshop Wednesday, also created a task force in June to review ways to encourage competition in the agriculture industry. Holder said the group created a “simple and accessible online submission process” for members of the agriculture community to submit complaints and concerns about industry and market issues.
The Attorney General said farmers and producers should continue to share their comments with the DOJ.
“I also want to be clear about something: the critical channel of communication that we have opened this past year … will remain open,” Holder said. “And the Departments of Justice and Agriculture will continue working in close coordination to address your concerns and to ensure fairness and opportunity for America’s farmers, producers and agriculture industry.”
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An increasing number of individuals have been captivated by extremist ideology, Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference Thursday announcing charges against 14 individuals for supporting a terrorist group operating in Somalia.
But those in the American Muslim community are strong partners in fighting the threat, Holder said, and there needs to be more recognition of their efforts.
“It’s a disturbing trend that we have been intensely investigating in recent years and will continue to investigate and root out,” Holder said. “But we must also work to prevent this type of radicalization from ever taking hold.”
The Justice Department announced the charges against 14 individuals in Minnesota, California and Alabama at the mid-day news conference Thursday. The defendants are charged with providing material support for the terrorist group al-Shabab, which is based in Somalia and has ties to al-Qaeda. Just two of those charged have been arrested as of Thursday.
Of the 14 individuals charged, 26-year-old Alabama native Omar Hamammi is the most well-known. He has appeared in videos for al-Shabab, including at least two which show him rapping in English, according to NBC.
Hamammi has taken on an operational role within the organization, Holder said. He declined to elaborate.
With the latest indictments, the Justice Department has charged 40 U.S. citizens with category 1 international terrorism violations — the most serious charges such as the use of weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to murder persons overseas or providing material support for terrorism — in 2009 and 2010. That number does not include any foreign citizens, permanent U.S. residents or visa holders.
Holder was joined at the news conference by Sean Joyce, the Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch; Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris; U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota B. Todd Jones; U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama Kenyen R. Brown; and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California Laura E. Duffy.
“Members of the American Muslim community have been – and continue to be – strong partners in fighting this emerging threat. They have regularly denounced terrorist acts and those who carry them out. And they have provided critical assistance to law enforcement in helping to disrupt terrorist plots and combat radicalization,” Holder said.
Holder said individuals in the American Muslim community have consistently expressed deep concern about the recruitment of their youth by terrorist groups. The community has taken proactive steps to stop the recruitment, Holder said, such as a video made by a group of American Muslims that repudiates the tactics used by radical terrorists to recruit young followers online.
That video was produced by the Muslim Public Affairs Council, which has taken on a prominent liaison role at the Justice Department and the FBI. At a speech in June, Holder said he found it “intolerable” that Arab and Muslim Americans feel uncomfortable about their relationship with law enforcement.
“There needs to be more recognition of these efforts and of the losses suffered in the Muslim community here and around the world,” Holder said Thursday. “Many of the victims of terror attacks by al-Shabaab, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups are innocent Muslims.”
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Garland called his decision to return to private practice “bittersweet,” but said it was difficult to maintain the pace of his Justice Department job with his three young children.
“In this job, the schedule is so crisis driven, so emergency driven, you don’t have the ability in a real practical sense to plan your life, to plan your day,” Garland told the NLJ. “The pace of this job is like nothing I’ve ever known. It’s not sustainable for the long run with a family. The person who gets that most of all is the attorney general. He was supportive of my decision.”
Holder praised Garland’s work, pointing to his efforts on financial fraud, antitrust and intellectual property law.
Garland has been “instrumental in helping to reinvigorate the department’s core missions and re-establish its reputation for independence,” Holder said. “I’m grateful for his wise counsel, as well as his friendship, his sense of humor, and his tremendous respect for the work he’s helped to advance. Jim has served the Department of Justice—and his country—well, and we will truly miss him.”
In an interview with the newspaper last week, Garland described his time at the Justice Department as “an incredible life experience.”
Garland was born in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Columbus Academy before heading to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After graduation, he took a job with Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). After two years, Garland enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law.
He worked as a summer associate at Covington during law school and later clerked for Appeals Judge R. Guy Cole of the 6th Circuit. When he returned to Covington in 2001, Garland worked as a litigator on commercial cases, antitrust issues and white-collar criminal defense, often working directly with Holder, then a partner at Covington.
Because his job did not require Senate confirmation, Garland was part of the so-called “Day One Group” at the Justice Department, according to WhoRunsGov.com. After President Barack Obama took his oath of office, Garland and a handful of other political appointees also took their oaths and started work.
At the Justice Department, Garland handled antitrust issues, state and local law enforcement, and all criminal matters not related to national security. He served as the Attorney General’s point man for the department response to the economic crisis and advised Holder about when the federal government should seek the death penalty.
Garland is not the first top Holder aide to announce his departure; national security adviser Amy Jeffress is also leaving her position to become the Justice Department’s attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Read the full interview with The National Law Journal here.
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The Justice Department on Monday issued the National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction, which officials said provided the first-ever comprehensive threat assessment of the dangers facing children from child pornography, online enticement, child sex tourism, commercial sexual exploitation and sexual exploitation in Indian Country.
Attorney General Eric Holder, announcing the plan on Monday, also said the U.S. Marshals Service would be launching a nationwide operation targeting the top 500 most dangerous non-compliant sex offenders in the country.
The 280-page document outlines a blueprint to strengthen the fight against child exploitation, said DOJ. It concludes that cooperation and coordination “at all levels of government” will lead to better results.
The Department of Justice has filed 8,464 Project Safe Childhood cases against 8,637 defendants, according to the report. While the report touts the progress that has been made, it says the Department recognizes that more work must be done.
U.S. Attorneys offices have allocated 38 additional Assistant U.S. Attorney positions to devote to child exploitation cases, according to the report. The Justice Department is working to fill the positions and provide additional training to those prosecutors. Under the plan, the U.S. Marshals Service will set up a “fully operational” National Sex Offender Targeting Center to better track and apprehend fugitive sex offenders.
To help with public outreach, DOJ is re-launching ProjectSafeChildhood.gov. Project Safe Childhood is an initiative launched in 2006 that aims to combat the proliferation of crimes that use modern technology to sexually exploit children.
The report is embedded below.