Posts Tagged ‘Gary Grindler’
Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder called for a new approach to dealing with prisoner reentry Tuesday, saying that incarceration is not an economically sustainable way to combat violent crime.

Attorney General Eric Holder (file photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

In a speech at the Project Safe Neighborhoods annual conference, Holder also said a network of U.S. Attorneys are updating the Justice Department’s violent crime strategy focusing on three key areas: enforcement, prevention and reentry.

“Effective reentry programs provide our best chance for safeguarding our neighborhoods and supporting people who have served their time and are also resolved to improve their lives,” Holder said. “People who have been incarcerated are often barred from housing, shunned by potential employers and surrounded by others in similar circumstances. This is a recipe for high recidivism. And it’s the reason that two-thirds of those released are rearrested within three years. It’s time for a new approach.”

The Justice Department is convening an interagency working group which will focus exclusively on reentry issues, including housing, job training needs and policy recommendations, and will work to enhance coordination at the federal level, Holder said.

The Attorney General noted that the Justice Department distributed $28 million in reentry awards under the Second Chance Act and said another $100 million is available for reentry programs this year.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is an initiative funded by the Justice Department that advocates against gun violence. It began as a pilot program in Delaware in 2007. On Wednesday, acting Attorney General Gary Grindler also spoke at the conference, which is being held in New Orleans.

Grindler also handed out the 2010 Project Safe Neighborhoods Achievement Awards, which are listed below.

  • The PSN Maine Task Force received the Outstanding Media Outreach Campaign Award for its Gun Sellers Awareness Campaign.
  • The Western District of Tennessee Law Enforcement Coordination Committee received the Outstanding Local Training Program Award for developing and administering a series of training programs designed to improve the quality of officers’ criminal investigations, case documentation and courtroom presentations.
  • Recipients of this year’s Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Violent Crime Task Force Award include Law Enforcement Coordinator for the District of New Mexico Ronald P. Lopez, Assistant Chief Deputy U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Texas Trent Touchstone and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Guillermo Gil.
  • The Tampa/Hillsborough Comprehensive Anti-Gang Task Force from the Middle District of Florida and the Eastern District of North Carolina PSN Partnership Task Force received the Outstanding Overall Partnership/Task Force Award.
  • This year’s Outstanding Local Prosecutor’s Office Award was awarded to the Los Angeles City Attorney‘ s Office in the Central District of California, the Oklahoma County District Attorney‘ s Office in the Western District of Oklahoma and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington C. Andrew Colasurdo.
  • Recipients of this year’s Outstanding Juvenile Program Award include the Springfield Salvation Army Bridging the Gap Program in the District of Massachusetts and the Mercer County PSN Juvenile Component in the District of New Jersey.
  • The San Francisco Police Department received the Outstanding Local Police Department Involvement Award for its innovative violence reduction strategy designed to direct a concerted enforcement effort in “hot spots” in each of the 10 police districts in the city.  The department reduced homicides by 54 percent and shootings by 34 percent in a single year.
  • The Outstanding Gun Crime Investigation Award was awarded to Operation Gideon in the District of Arizona, Operation Glass Hotel in the District of Columbia, Operation Statesboro Blues in the Southern District of Georgia, and Operation City Nights in the Eastern District of Missouri.
  • Operation Augusta Ink in the Southern District of Georgia, the Western District of North Carolina MS-13 Investigation and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force in Newport News, Va., received the award for Outstanding Gang Investigation.
  • This year’s Outstanding Community Involvement Award was awarded to the Youth Intervention Network in the Northern District of California for its comprehensive initiative designed to build and support a high performing and robust community working together to serve youth identified as likely to commit or become victims of violent crimes without prevention assistance.
  • Hartford Neighborhood Centers Inc. in the District of Connecticut and the Miami-Dade Reentry Task Force received the Outstanding Reentry Initiative Award.

  • Dr. Anthony A. Braga, a Senior Research Associate at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, received the Outstanding Service by a Research Partner Award for providing research and program development assistance to the Massachusetts PSN Program for more than eight years.
Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Justice Department employees packed the Great Hall on Wednesday morning to give First Lady Michelle Obama a rousing greeting as she thanked them for their service.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

Justice Department employees lined the balcony above the Great Hall to catch a glimpse of the First Lady (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

DOJ employees packed the Great Hall to see Michelle Obama (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

Since her husband took office last year, Obama has visited several government agencies to thank federal employees for their service.

DOJ staffers filed into the standing-room-only Great Hall as early as 7:30 a.m. Others took up posts on the third-floor balcony above the auditorium. When Obama emerged from the rear of the stage just after 11:30 a.m., a sea of cameras and phones sprang up from the crowd to capture the moment. Later, shrieks rang out when Obama approached the crowd to shake hands with career attorneys and top-ranking DOJ officials.

The greeting was so warm, in fact, that Attorney General Eric Holder offered the First Lady a job at DOJ.

“I can tell you that, like the president, she has a brilliant legal mind,” Holder said. “I have been so impressed by her legal skills that I’m going to make her an offer — right now — to join the best lawyers in the world, right here at DOJ.”

The First Lady praised both the Attorney General and the work of the employees of the Department of Justice.

“One of the privileges of being First Lady has been the opportunity to visit so many agencies over the past year or so so that I can thank all of you, really, for the hard work and dedication that you’ve all put in,” Obama said. “You put in long hours.  And a lot of people look at the President, they look at your boss, and they say, well, you’re working hard.  But the truth is — and we all know this — you all are putting in that kind of time as well.  You’re making sacrifices. You miss time with your families. And often, you do it without getting any recognition from anyone.

“So I want to let you know how much that we value everything that you’re doing here, however long you’ve been doing it,” she added.

Obama also gave a shout-out to those who work outside Justice Department headquarters — Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives employees, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals and the U.S. Attorneys.

Justice Department employees Celeste Simmons, Janean Bentley, and Cee Cee Simpson Allaway said they were the first three to arrive at 7:30 a.m.

“It was worth it, I would do it again anytime,” said Simmons, an investigator in the Civil Rights Division’s Disability Rights Section who has been with the department for 15 years.

They were joined by Sabrina Jenkins, a fellow employee in the Disability Rights Section, and Angela Parks of the Criminal Division. All said they were thrilled to meet and shake hands with the First Lady and showed off pictures they took of Obama.

Joining the First Lady and the Attorney General on stage were some of the Justice Department’s longest serving employees, including Jack Keeney, Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division, who at age 88 still holds an office at DOJ headquarters.

The other long-serving employees on stage were: Civil Division trial attorney Marshall T. Golding, who joined DOJ in April 1957; FBI employee Earl F. Hostetler Jr., who began his career in June 1961; Justice Management Division security specialist Barbara J. Russell, who began her career with the Department of Justice in July 1961; Civil Division legal assistant William H. Wiggins, who has been with DOJ since December 1963; FBI telephone operator Mary C. Smith, who entered the FBI in June 1964; FBI support services technician Marcia M. Taylor, who began her FBI career in September 1965; Civil Division mail clerk Eugene W. Crane, who started his career at DOJ in January 1966; Civil Division Appellate Staff Director Robert E. Kopp, who has served since August 1966; Justice Management Division Procurement Analyst Patricia Ann Belcher; Civil Rights Analyst Myra D. Wastaff; and Senior Counsel for Appeals in the Criminal Division Sidney Glazer.

Officials seated in front of the crowd included Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler, Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli, and Assistant Attorneys General Tony West, Christine Varney and Ronald Weich.

Story updated at 4:45 p.m.

Attorney General Eric Holder and First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks are available below.

Good morning. Thank you all for being here today to help me welcome our nation’s First Lady – and my good friend – to the Department of Justice.

In the recent past, including many miles on the campaign trail, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know our First Lady. And I can tell you that, like the President, she has a brilliant legal mind. I have been so impressed by her legal skills that I’m going to make her an offer- right now- to join the best lawyers in the world, right here at DOJ.

I’ve also learned that she has a deep appreciation for the work and many responsibilities of the Justice Department. But what’s impressed me most, and what I admire most about her, is her commitment to justice.

Many of you already know her extraordinary story – that she grew up in a small apartment on the South Side of Chicago and, with hard work, determination and the support of a loving family, made her way to Princeton University, then Harvard Law School, then on to one of the nation’s premier law firms. And she decided long ago – long before she became First Lady – that she wanted to harness the power of the law to generate positive social change and build a more just society.

That commitment took her in unexpected directions. As she once put it – and I know many of you feel this way, too – she realized that she, “wanted to have a career motivated by passion and not just money.” And so she built on her legal training to serve communities, assemble volunteers, and – despite the pay cut – spend her time inspiring young people to enter public service themselves.

And did I mention that it was because of the law that she met a certain summer associate – and her law firm mentee – who would change her life? She has said that she, and I quote, “wasn’t expecting much” of the young Harvard Law student who everyone else was raving about. But shortly after they met, our President summoned all the charm he could muster - and all the moves he had – and apparently it worked. From that time on, our First Lady has been, not only a distinguished attorney, executive, and community leader, but also, in her husband’s words, “the rock” of her family. Indeed, she does seem to do it all: lawyer, advocate, visionary and, above all, the mother of two wonderful daughters, a supportive and engaged wife, and a wonderful daughter herself.

Over the past year and a half, the First Lady has also become “the rock” of our nation – a committed, and already accomplished, force for positive change, especially for young people. Last month, I had the privilege to join her in Detroit, where she kicked off a day of mentoring and called on young students to work hard and, just as important, to give back. And her “Let’s Move!” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity is already creating a healthier – and, in a very real sense, more just – America.

But her commitment and her tireless efforts don’t stop there. She also works to support military families, to serve as a role model for working women, to promote the arts and arts education, and – of course – to continue to make sure that my boss still takes out the trash. That can’t still be true!

When I think about the First Lady, I’m struck by the fact that, though I’ve only known her for a few years, it feels like so many. That’s the kind of friend our speaker is. From the day we met, she has made me feel welcome and at home. And so in that same spirit, I’d like us to welcome her to our home here at the Department of Justice. Ladies and gentlemen – the First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama.

——-

MRS. OBAMA: Thank you. Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Such a warm and wonderful welcome. I am thrilled to be here.

I want to start by thanking our outstanding Attorney General, Eric Holder, your boss, for that very kind introduction, and also for the wonderful work that he’s doing here at the Department of Justice. He is — I could say the same accolades as he said about me. He’s just been a phenomenal support, not just to the President but to me personally.

As he mentioned, he joined me along with celebrities and other people from the administration in Detroit to do some very important mentoring in Detroit. And he was just amazing. I mean, you know how busy he is. And my view is that if this man can take the time out to fly and spend a day talking to young people, I mean, sitting down at a table with kids, and talking about how they can pursue their dreams, how he can use his own story to show them that they can reach for passions that maybe they thought they never could, that he, in his own role, serves as a role model. If he can do that, then we all can do that.

And I know that there’s so many of you here who are following that lead. And I’m grateful to him and I’m grateful to all of you for serving in that role. So we have to give him an incredible thank you. (Applause.)

I’m told that Eric started out as a 25-year-old law graduate — school graduate working in the Public Integrity Section here at DOJ. You were 25?

ATTORNEY GENERAL HOLDER: That was five years ago.

MRS. OBAMA: Five years ago. (Laughter.) And even though he’s been around the block a few times since then — (laughter) — only five years — he’s never lost that sense of responsibility that comes from working to uphold our highest legal principles. It’s a responsibility that all of you share, and one that some of you have been shouldering for quite a while, I understand. That’s why I want to take a moment to recognize the folks here on the stage with me. These are some of the longest-serving employees here at the Department of Justice. I don’t know the numbers here, but they’ve been here for quite some time, and I want to take some time to give them a round of applause for their dedication. (Applause.)

It’s just wonderful to see people who have made commitments for decades to government service, and it’s important for the world to see, particularly young people, to see how people are building and have built lifetimes here serving the broader community.

And I know that even though we’re here at Main Justice, I also want to recognize the men and women who serve as the faces of this agency in communities all across the country: the FBI and the ATF agents. (Applause.) The U.S. Marshals and the hardworking folks at the U.S. Attorneys offices who are on the ground every day — yay, yes — (applause) — they’re keeping us safe and protecting our most basic rights.

And when I travel, one of the great things I get to do is usually see the U.S. Attorneys on the ground. So our congratulations and thanks goes out to everyone.

One of the privileges of being First Lady has been the opportunity to visit so many agencies over the past year or so so that I can thank all of you, really, for the hard work and dedication that you’ve all put in. You put in long hours. And a lot of people look at the President, they look at your boss, and they say, well, you’re working hard. But the truth is — and we all know this — you all are putting in that kind of time as well. You’re making sacrifices. You miss time with your families. And often, you do it without getting any recognition from anyone.

So I want to let you know how much that we value everything that you’re doing here, however long you’ve been doing it, because I know we have a lot of newbies here, folks who are just joining the department as well. Yay, all right, let’s give them a round of applause, too. (Applause.)

So that’s one of the reasons I’ve been doing these visits, to make sure that you all know that even in the heat of change and all the work that goes on here, that we haven’t forgotten the work that you do and the sacrifices that you make.

These visits, though, also help me get a better understanding of what’s happening in some of these agencies, to listen, to learn about your work and to help spotlight the difference that you make in the lives of so many Americans, because when I show up, there are cameras that usually come, and I think it’s important for the people around the country to know that government is working hard for the American people and that it’s made up of everyday Americans who are making sacrifices on their behalf.

And I have to admit that I’m especially excited to be here at DOJ because we have a lot in common, many of us here. As many of you know, long before I lived in the White House, I worked in Chicago, and I did a little law thing. (Laughter.) I decided to study law for some of the same reasons many of you did. Number one, math was really hard. (Laughter.) And as my mother said, I talked a lot — (laughter) — and could write pretty good. But it’s also because I’ve seen the power that law has to change people’s lives in a very real and meaningful way. And I knew that lawyers had the ability to help turn words on a page into justice in the world –- to keep a neighborhood safe; to keep a family in their home; to leave our children a world that is a little more equal and a little more just.

And I also — as Eric mentioned — I met this guy named Barack Obama while I was studying law. (Laughter.) Yes, he was my mentee — a summer associate when I was a first-year associate. So that was a nice little perk from my law career. (Laughter.)

And here at DOJ, you all represent the ideals that drew us all to this business in the first place: those principles of equality, fairness and the rule of law. Your responsibility is not to a particular party — and that’s important for people to understand — or to a particular administration or to a President. You work for the American people. You do battle every day on behalf of the most vulnerable among us. And you touch the lives of virtually every American in ways large and small -– even if they don’t realize it.

For a department that started out with a single, part-time employee in 1789, the workload here at DOJ has really never stopped growing. And I know you all are feeling that right now.

Whether it’s keeping our nation safe from terrorist attacks, or bringing our most hardened criminals to justice, protecting consumers or safeguarding our civil rights, your work has never been more important that it is today.

That’s especially true in the wake of the worst environmental disaster that we’ve ever faced here in this nation. And I know that the Attorney General and several members of the leadership team have traveled to the Gulf, and many folks here in this agency are working tirelessly to ensure that accountability is going on, that we’re protecting taxpayer dollars, and that we’re helping those affected by the oil spill really get back on their feet.

And people need to know that the Department of Justice is at the center of that work. But it’s not just the work that you do that makes this place so special. It’s what you all bring to the work that you do. It’s the passion, and the persistence and the energy that you bring to your cases.

And I know to be here, taking pay cuts as many of you do, you’ve got to be doing it because of passion because all of you all would be at a firm somewhere if it didn’t mean something to you.

But that’s true whether you’re an attorney, a paralegal, a librarian, a support staffer — truly, the dedication that you’ve all shown is extraordinary. And I’m proud — very proud — of the work that you’ve done, and I’m extremely grateful for what you’re doing every day.

And it is not an easy job. That I know as well. But the fact that so many of you have stuck around for so long really says something about the culture of this agency.

Administrations, as you know, can come and go, but the pride that you put into your work, it never fades. As Attorney General Holder likes to say, working here isn’t just about making a living. And that’s so important for young people out there to know and to see. These jobs, it’s not about earning the dollar; it’s about making a difference in someone’s life.

And this group really takes those words to heart. I’m told that in the first six months of this year, your attorneys have taken on 20 pro bono cases -– from custody battles and landlord-tenant disputes, to domestic violence and personal injury cases. Pro bono, for those of you who don’t know, is completely free legal service.

And 50 of your attorneys, I understand, have staffed legal clinics right here in D.C., helping to write wills, to file taxes and to do other important work for members right here in this community who couldn’t otherwise afford it.

In the end, that’s really what the Department of Justice is all about. That’s really what the field of law is supposed to be about. You all help make the promise of our laws a reality for every single American regardless of their race, their standing or their political affiliation.

From the Great Hall of the Supreme Court to a folding table in a legal clinic, you help our families secure the protection that they need and the rights that they deserve. And you do it with a level of fairness and compassion that stands as an example to us all.

So for that reason, I’m here to show you, along with the rest of America, our gratitude, our admiration. These are going to be tough times. And we’re going to need every one of you to buckle up and work even harder. But it’s easier to have that conversation here because you all know what hard work means. You all know what sacrifice means.

And it’s important for us to share those values with the next generation. We need to replace you all. We need to start working on the next generation of staffers and attorneys and librarians and paralegals who are going to fill these seats in decades to come. And they’re going to do that because of the work that they see you doing. They’re going to do that because of the pride that you take in your work. We are the role models for the next generation.

So we are grateful for your work. And I just look forward to coming out there and shaking a few hands.

So thank you, thank you so much. (Applause.)

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Attorney General Eric Holder said Thursday the Justice Department is working to fix problems identified in a recent Inspector General report that found the DOJ is unprepared to respond to an attack on the U.S. using  weapons of mass destruction.

FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder at a news conference on Thursday (photo by Ryan J. Reilly / Main Justice).

“I looked at the report that was prepared by the Inspector General, and I was concerned about the issues that were raised there,” Holder told reporters at a news conference on an unrelated issue Thursday.

“I’ve asked the Deputy Attorney General, Gary Grindler, to look at that will all due speed and he has put together a group that is looking at the problems that were identified by the Inspector General and we will be dealing with them very quickly,” Holder said.

Holder did not answer a question on why he thought the Justice Department had overlooked the issue.

According to the Inspector General’s report, the FBI’s Washington branch was the only field office with a written plan and checklist for a WMD attack. Some officials in the Washington D.C. capital region field offices of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Marshals Service weren’t even aware that ATF had been designated the lead agency to plan the DOJ’s WMD reponse, the report said.

One Justice Department official told the Office of the Inspector General that DOJ was “totally unprepared” and said that if there was a WMD attack, “everybody would be winging it.”

In a May 25 letter to Inspector General Glenn Fine, Associate Deputy Attorney General James A. Baker said that the Department of Justice “should do more in order to formally and centrally coordinate emergency response activities of all appropriate Department components.” Baker wrote that the department would create a clearer and more formal system to ensure emergency response functions were up to date and would name an individual from the Office of the Deputy Attorney General to coordinate the preparedness effort.

Click here to read the full Inspector General report.

Joe Palazzolo contributed to this report.

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Justice Department is appointing 15 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys and 20 FBI Special Agents to combat intellectual property crimes both domestically and abroad.

The new AUSA positions, announced by the DOJ on Monday — World Intellectual Property Day, will be part of the department’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) program and spread throughout offices in California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The 20 new FBI Special Agents will be assigned to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and D.C.

“Intellectual property law enforcement is central to protecting our nation’s ability to remain at the forefront of technological advancement, business development and job creation,” Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler said in a statement. “The department, along with its federal partners throughout the administration, will remain ever vigilant in this pursuit as American entrepreneurs and businesses continue to develop, innovate and create.”

In December, Attorney General Eric Holder met at a White House summit with entertainment industry executives to discuss combating intellectual property crimes. During a meeting in Brazil in February, Holder pledged strong enforcement of intellectual property rights. Last month, a leaked draft of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement revealed that the U.S. has been pushing for rules that ask service providers to cut off internet access for repeat offenders.

Read the entire news release below.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES NEW ASSISTANT UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS AND FBI AGENTS TO COMBAT INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CRIMES

WASHINGTON – As part of the Department of Justice’s ongoing initiative to confront intellectual property (IP) crimes, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary G. Grindler announced today the appointment of 15 new Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) positions and 20 FBI Special Agents to be dedicated to combating domestic and international IP crimes.

These new positions – announced on the 10th annual World Intellectual Property Day – are part of the department’s continued commitment to combat the growing number of IP crimes here at home, and abroad. The new AUSA positions will be part of the department’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) program.

“Intellectual property law enforcement is central to protecting our nation’s ability to remain at the forefront of technological advancement, business development and job creation,” said Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler. “The department, along with its federal partners throughout the Administration, will remain ever vigilant in this pursuit as American entrepreneurs and businesses continue to develop, innovate and create.”

The 15 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys will work closely with the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (CCIPS) to aggressively pursue high tech crime, including computer crime and intellectual property offenses. The new positions will be located in California, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

The 20 new FBI Special Agents announced today will be deployed to specifically augment four geographic areas with intellectual property squads, and increase investigative capacity in other locations around the country where IP crimes are of particular concern. The four squads will be located in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and the District of Columbia. The squads will allow for more focused efforts in particular hot spot areas and increased contact and coordination with our state and local law enforcement partners. The 20 new agents will join the 31 agents devoted to investigating IP crimes who have already been deployed to field offices around the country.

“Theft of intellectual property – from inventions to trademarks and copyrights, to industrial designs and trade secrets – is a worldwide problem. It affects individuals and corporations financially and can threaten public safety. The additional FBI agents will significantly strengthen the efforts of our squads investigating intellectual property rights violations and help bring to justice those who seek to profit from intellectual property theft,” said Assistant Director Gordon M. Snow of the FBI Cyber Division.

Acting Deputy Attorney General Grindler serves as chair of the department’s Task Force on Intellectual Property, which was established earlier this year by Attorney General Eric Holder to coordinate the department’s efforts on IP crimes. The task force focuses on strengthening efforts to combat intellectual property crimes through close coordination with state and local law enforcement partners as well as international counterparts. As part of its mission, the task force works together with the Office of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IPEC), housed in the Executive Office of the President, to implement an Administration-wide strategic plan on intellectual property.

The task force includes representatives from the offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, and the Associate Attorney General; the Criminal Division; the Civil Division; the Antitrust Division; the Office of Legal Policy; the Office of Justice Programs; the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee; the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and the FBI.

World Intellectual Property Day was established by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to recognize the importance of protecting intellectual property rights and enforcing their laws. Each year on April 26th, WIPO and its member states seek to increase public understanding of intellectual property through activities, events and campaigns.

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Lisa Monaco, a former federal prosecutor and chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller III, has been named acting Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, one of several moves in the management office following the recent departure of Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, the Justice Department said.

Monaco joined the DAG’s office in January 2009 as an Associate Deputy Attorney General with a focus on national security. She replaces Kathryn Ruemmler, who moved to the White House in December as deputy counsel to President Barack Obama. Donald Verrilli Jr., a veteran appellate attorney, also left ODAG last month to become senior counsel to Obama, a White House spokesman said. Verrilli was co-chair of Jenner & Block LLP’s appellate and Supreme Court practice before joining the department as an Associate Deputy Attorney General in February 2009.

Ogden stepped down as Deputy Attorney General, the department’s No. 2 position, in February after less than a year on the job. (He has since rejoined the law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.) Officials said his resignation was prompted by disagreements between Ogden and Attorney General Eric Holder over management of the department.

Holder appointed Gary Grindler to replace Ogden in an acting capacity, though he has been mentioned as a potential nominee for the Deputy post. Grindler, a veteran of the Clinton administration, rejoined the Justice Department last year as a top official in the Criminal Division.

His new Chief of Staff (and Counselor) is Stacey Luck, who most recently served as Senior Counsel to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer in the Criminal Division. Ogden’s Chief of Staff, Stuart Delery, has shifted into an Associate Deputy Attorney General slot, where he will concentrate on civil and appellate matters.

Matthew Olsen, the Executive Director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force and a former lawyer in the National Security Division, has been appointed Associate Deputy Attorney General and will handle national security and criminal matters.

Grindler said the new additions would round out an “outstanding team,” which includes career Associate Deputy Attorneys General David Margolis and Scott Schools.

“Their experience and vision will be instrumental in fulfilling the responsibilities of this office to advise and assist the Attorney General in implementing the Department’s policies and objectives,” Grindler said in a statement.

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

With Congress shifting its attention to the fiscal 2011 budget, Justice Department officials on Thursday made a case for more resources to tamp down on health care fraud.

In separate congressional hearings, acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler and acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Greg Andres of the Criminal Division, touted the department’s efforts, both citing an impressive statistic: For every $1 spent on enforcement since 1996, $4 were returned to the Medicare trust fund.

Greg Andres, acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division (photo by Christopher Mathews)

While no reliable measurement of health care fraud exists, the department places annual losses in the billions of dollars. Against the backdrop of multitrillion dollar health care legislation, the Obama administration has asked for $90 million in fiscal 2011 — an increase of $60 million — to fight the scourge.

More than half of that amount would cover costs of deploying health care strike forces in as many as 13 new cities, based on an analysis of Medicare claims data, said Grindler in his testimony before a House Appropriations subcommittee

Strike forces are operating in seven cities and comprise investigators and agents from the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, as well as state and local law enforcement officers.

The Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorneys’ offices collaborate in the task forces, but Grindler said the department expected the latter to “continue these programs in perpetuity” once staffed with trained agents and Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Grindler said the strike forces in the Miami and Los Angeles had become fixtures in their respective U.S. Attorneys’ offices.

The first strike force, in Miami, began work  in 2007, targeting fraud in the durable medical equipment market. Grindler said DME claim submissions dropped by $1.74 billion in the strike force’s first 12 months.

Omar Perez, an HHS special agent in the Miami strike force, said Medicare fraud has become a form of organized crime, with sophisticated business models and opportunities for advancement.

“I see people who have never finished high school living lavish lifestyles, making anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars a year by committing health care fraud,” Perez told the appropriations panel. “The money involved is staggering.”

In testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee Thursday morning, Andres said the task forces moved quickly, sometimes bringing a case from indictment to disposition to sentencing in a matter of months.

He added that strike force defendants had a conviction rate of more than 94 percent, compared to 64 percent for other health care fraud defendants, and that they serve longer prison terms.

Christopher Mathews contributed to this story.

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010

The people — 145 of them, anyway — have spoken.

PollDaddy.com

B. Todd Jones (Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi)

Main Justice polled readers last month on their choice for a new Deputy Attorney General. The survey registered a decisive, er, 14-vote victory for Minnesota’s B. Todd Jones, a repeat U.S. Attorney and chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys.

Jones first served as U.S. Attorney in Minnesota from 1998 to 2001. He sat out the Bush administration, as a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi in Minneapolis specializing in complex business litigation and corporate criminal defense.

Jones was confirmed again as U.S. Attorney in August, and shortly thereafter Attorney General Eric Holder tapped him to chair the AGAC, a powerful policy body that meets with top department officials about once every six weeks.

Last month, Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler replaced David Ogden, who left over his differences with the Attorney General.

For more on the other candidates, read our earlier post.


Friday, February 26th, 2010
Friday, February 26th, 2010

On Friday morning, Main Justice provided live coverage of the Senate Judiciary hearing on the results of the Office of Professional Responsibilities report on the authors of the so-called “torture memos.”

Read our live coverage of the event below or see our post wrapping-up the event.

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Acting Deputy Attorney General Gary Grindler will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday on the Justice Department Office of Professional Responsibility report on the conduct of the so-called “torture” memo authors.

No other witnesses are expected.

Gary Grindler (DOJ)

Last week, the House Judiciary Committee released the long awaited report on former Office of Legal Counsel lawyers Jay Bybee and John Yoo, who authorized harsh interrogation methods for use on terrorism suspects. An earlier draft of the report said the Bush officials had engaged in professional misconduct. But Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, a career lawyer who has been at the DOJ about 40 years, softened the OPR conclusion to say Bybee and Yoo showed only “poor judgment.”

Grindler is currently the second-in-command at the DOJ. He replaced former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, who resigned earlier this month.

The House Judiciary Committee also plans to hold hearings on the OPR report, but the panel has not yet announced dates for the hearings.

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