Mayorkas to Lead White House Intruder Investigation

Ali Mayorkas

Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, a NAFUSA member, and DHS general counsel Stevan Bunnell have been named by DHS head Jeh Johnson to take over the investigation of the White House intruder investigation from the Secret Service. Their report is due November 1.

On September 19 a man scaled the White House fence and was able to penetrate far into the interior of the White House before he was apprehended. This incident, along with other recent security breaches led to the resignation of the head of the Secret Service on September 29.

Mayorkas served as the United States Attorney for the CD of California (1999-2001) and is currently the deputy secretary of DHS, the second-ranking official of that agency. He previously served as the director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from 2009-2013. He was a participant on the NAFUSA panel on immigration at the Atlanta conference in 2012. Mayorkas and Bunnell were both partners in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP prior to their service at DHS.

Commission Led by Vaira Issues Report to Philly Mayor

Peter Vaira

The Mayor’s Commission on The Department of Licenses and Inspection (L&I) issued its final report on September 25, 2014. NAFUSA member Peter F. Vaira, was appointed by Mayor Nutter as the executive director of the Commission. The Commission, consisting of 20 experts in construction and demolition, and the government supervision of these activities was directed to look into the L&I’s oversight of a building collapse in June 2013 which killed six persons in a Salvation Army thrift store next door. One of those killed was the daughter of the Treasurer of Philadelphia.

After 10 months of active investigation, the Commission recommended some of the most dramatic changes in Philadelphia government in 50 years. The Commission  recommended that the Department of L&I, be abolished and replaced by a Department of Buildings and and a Department of Business Compliance. The Department of Buildings is to be headed by a licensed engineer or a registered architect, will have public safety in construction and demolition of private and public buildings as its primary mission and will have direct supervision of 25,000 vacant buildings in Philadelphia. The Department of Business Compliance will have the responsibility of licensing and permitting all activities that do not fall under construction or demolition.
Upon receiving the report, the Mayor immediately placed L&I under the supervision of the
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, along with the Police and Fire Departments. The Mayor also directed the formation of an implementation group to begin studying how the recommended changes could be made. That group will convene in October and will report to the Mayor by December 31, 2014.

For a copy of the report contact p.vaira@gpeff.com

Judge Walter E. Black Dies, 88

George Cook 1981, Baltimore Sun

George Cook 1981, Baltimore Sun

Walter E. Black Jr., a retired chief judge of the United States District Court for Maryland, passed away on Monday, September 27, 2014, at his home from complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was the U.S. Attorney for Maryland (1956-1957) and served as an AUSA in that district from 1953 to 1955. He was named to the U.S. District Court in 1982, and served as the chief judge (1991-1994) and retired in 2002.

A memorial service will be held at 2 PM Tuesday, October 14, at the Chapel at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles Street, at Melrose Avenue, Baltimore.  Click here to read the obituary from The Baltimore Sun

As is our custom, NAFUSA has made arrangements for an American flag to be flown over Main Justice and presented to Judge Black’s family as a token of the appreciation in which he was held by his colleagues.

Happy Birthday

President George Washington signed the Judiciary Act of 1789 on September 24th of that year. Among other things, the Act created the Office of Attorney General and established 13 judicial districts, each with a United States Attorney and a United States Marshal. The 13 were one each in the 11 states that had ratified the Constitution, plus a District of Maine in Massachusetts and a District of Kentucky in Virginia. (North Carolina ratified the Constitution in November 1789, Rhode Island in May 1790. The United States Department of Justice was established in 1870.)

Judiciary Act 01.tif

 

Rossman Profiled by Detroit Legal News

Rich Rossman

NAFUSA Executive Director Rich Rossman is one of the organizers of the James K. Robinson Scholarship Event to be held on Friday, September 26 at the London Chop House in Detroit. The purpose of the event is to raise additional funds for the endowed scholarship that Robinson created to help students at the Wayne State Law School, where Robinson, a past president of NAFUSA, had served as dean. Robinson passed away in 2010 after a three year bout with cancer.

On September 8, 2014, the Detroit Legal News profiled Rossman’s career. He served as Robinson’s chief assistant when Jim was the United States Attorney in Detroit (1977-1980). Rich then succeeded Jim in 1980. Rossman followed Robinson to Washington and served as Jim’s chief of staff in the Criminal Division, 1998-1999.

The Legal News points out that Rossman will be attending his 50th law school reunion this weekend at The University of Michigan Law School and will be among the 50 year honorees at the Michigan State Bar Association the following weekend in Grand Rapids. In a year of 50s, Rich and Patty will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in January.

Click here to read about Rich’s career: Remembrance: Head of U.S. Attorneys helps pay tribute to late dean.

Anyone interested in attending the Robinson Scholarhip Event or making a contribution can contact Rich.

 

Gay, Minish & Sanders Named Bradford Award Winners

Steve Sanders, John Gay and Joseph Minish

Steve Sanders, John Gay and Joseph Minish

Each year, NAFUSA recognizes an Assistant U.S. Attorney for outstanding performance through the J. Michael Bradford Memorial Award. The award is named after J. Michael Bradford, who served as a U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas from 1994 to 2001. Bradford, who died in 2003, had a distinguished career in public service, including successfully defending the government against lawsuits stemming from the 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian’s compound in Waco, Texas. NAFUSA annually solicits nominations from current U.S. Attorneys for the Bradford Award. Typically, the recipient has handled a significant investigation and prosecution or series of prosecutions that has had a significant impact and merits special recognition.

Once again, a number of exceptional nominations were made by U.S. Attorneys around the country. The Michael Bradford Award Committee was chaired by NAFUSA Vice President Greg Vega. Its members included Ed Dowd, Catherine Hanaway, Don Washington, Bart Daniel, Bob Cleary and Rich Rossman. This year, the Board voted to give the award to John Gay, Joseph Minish and Steven Sanders, from the District of New Jersey, nominated by United States Attorney Paul Fishman for their outstanding work in the case United States v. Paul Bergrin.

For nearly a decade, Paul Bergrin, a former assistant Essex County Prosecutor and former  AUSA for the District of New Jersey, used his law practice to operate a criminal enterprise brokering narcotics deals, distributing drugs, operating a brothel owned by a client, tampering with witnesses, and conspiring to murder witnesses testifying against his clients.   In 2009, after a five-year investigation, the grand jury returned an indictment charging Bergrin with using his law practice as an association-in-fact enterprise to commit racketeering acts, including murdering and conspiring to murder witnesses.  The case was vigorously litigated with the Judge dismissing the RICO count stating that it failed to plead a viable offense.  That ruling was appealed to the Third Circuit which reversed the dismissal and remanded the case for trial.  The Judge remained hostile to the Government’s case and severed two substantive counts relating to a murder, and ordered the Government to try the severed counts first.   Among other obstacles, the Judge excluded certain evidence, resulting in the jury’s inability to reach a verdict resulting in a mistrial.  Upon retrial, the Judge made more evidentiary rulings against the Government and severed remaining counts prior to retrial of the murder counts. The Government again appealed the Judge’s evidentiary rulings and also sought permission to have the case assigned to a new Judge.  The Third Circuit held that the Judge had erroneously excluded certain Rule 404(b) evidence and concluded a reasonable observer could question the judge’s impartiality.  The Circuit ordered the case be reassigned  and directed the new judge to reconsider whether any severance was necessary.  The new judge ordered all counts be tried together.   At trial, the Government presented evidence that Bergrin was involved in subornation of perjury; involved  with a 2004 murder;  attempted to hire a hit-man to murder witnesses;  and 54 kilograms of cocaine seized from a restaurant he jointly owned with his girlfriend.  The Government called 42 witnesses (some in protective custody) and introduced over 1,000 exhibits.

Bergin represented himself at trial, but was also assisted  by a prominent defense team that filed daily motions that required briefing and argument by the prosecution team.  The trial team exhibited hard work, cogent legal arguments, skillful presentation of evidence and persuasive advocacy.  After three days of deliberation, the  jury returned guilty verdicts on all 23 counts  and found the Government to have proved every RICO predicate act alleged in the indictment.   The Court imposed  concurrent life sentences on Bergrin. Despite facing numerous obstacles, the team remained focused in the finest tradition and represented the Government in the finest tradition.

The other nominees were:

Christopher Bodnar and Sean Costello, nominated by United States Attorney Kenyen Ray Brown, SD of Alabama, for their work on Operation Measured Bold, a massive multi-agency international terrorism case.

Bridget M. Brennan, nominated by United States Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach, ND of Ohio, for her in prosecution of of the hate crimes case involving religiously-motivated assaults against the Amish, prosecution of one of the largest credit union cases and prosecution of a religiously motivated arson case involving the Islamic Center for Greater Toledo.

Jay R. Combs, nominated by United States Attorney John Malcolm Bales, ED of Texas, for his work in prosecuting and investigating a significant drug trafficking organization.

Bonnie Jonas, nominated by United States Attorney Preet Bharara, SD of New York, for her work in significant high impact white collar cases, including Aurora Foods, WorldCom, Royal Ahold, Olympus, Deutsche Bank and Toyota.

Melanie K. Pierson, nominated by United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy, SD of California, for her work in protecting the environment from various threats.

Christopher D. Poole, nominated by United States Attorney William C. Killian, ED of Tennessee, for his work in leading an investigation targeting gang members in Chattanooga in Operation Shutdown.

Stephen M. “Mark” McIntyre, nominated by United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson, SD of Texas, for his successful prosecution of Weatherford International Limited for violation of export control laws.

Steven Myhre and Jim Keller, nominated by United States Attorney Daniel G. Bogden, Nevada, for their work in prosecuting Young and Willard for complex securities fraud in the futures market (FOREX).

Matthew D. Segal, nominated by United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner, ED of California, for prosecution of complex and significant white collar cases, including the CEO of a major food processor.

 

Whitley Moves To Baker Donelson

Joe Whitley

On September 2, 2014, Baker Donelson announced the addition of NAFUSA member Joe D. Whitley and Jason R. Edgecombe to the Firm’s Government Regulatory Actions Group.

Whitley joins Baker Donelson as chair of the Firm’s White Collar Practice and a shareholder in Baker Donelson’s Atlanta and Washington offices, where he represents clients nationally and internationally in white collar criminal matters and regulatory enforcement, corporate internal investigations, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and U.S. export controls and compliance. He also advises on corporate compliance, health care fraud and FDA-related matters. Whitley has had a wide-ranging career in the Department of Justice, having served as the Acting Associate Attorney General during the George H.W. Bush administration, and being appointed by Presidents Reagan and Bush, respectively, to serve as the United States Attorney in the Middle and Northern Districts of Georgia.  In 2003, he was appointed by George W. Bush as the first General Counsel of the United States Department of Homeland Security and served in that position for two years before returning to private practice.

A frequent speaker and lecturer on white collar, compliance and corporate governance issues, Whitley has been recognized in The Best Lawyers in America since 2001 in the area of Administrative/Regulatory Law and in Chambers USA since 2014 in the area of White-Collar Crime and Government Investigations. He has also been listed in Georgia Super Lawyers since 2010 and in Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers since 2012. Whitley is an active member of the American Bar Association and currently chairs the ABA’s Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice Section, and is a member of the Criminal Justice Section.

“Mr. Whitley and Mr. Edgecombe are respected practitioners in the area of white collar criminal matters and government investigations,” said Gary C. Shockley, leader of Baker Donelson’s Government Regulatory Actions Group. “Joe’s extensive legal practice and background in public service and Jason’s experience with internal investigations make them excellent additions to our team.  I am pleased Joe will be our new leader as chair of the Firm’s White Collar Group.”

Whitley called his move to Baker Donelson a great opportunity. “Baker Donelson has a wonderful Southern footprint,” he said. The firm, based in Memphis, has 700 lawyers, mostly in the Southeast, Texas and Florida. Whitley said the firm’s institutional clients, particularly in health care, were a draw. “The firm has a large presence in Nashville, the epicenter of health care in the United States, which was an important factor in my decision,” Whitley said.