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.


Boston Conference October 9-12

The NAFUSA annual conference will be held in Boston on October 9-12, 2014 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. Member Registration remains open (members: click on red link below) although the Copley is sold out. There are rooms available at nearby hotels. Click here to viewNAFUSA Program Boston 2014. Click on “Conferences” (above) to view full bios of speakers.

NAFUSA members: click here to register

President Don Stern and his planning committee promise an outstanding program. The conference will open with Thursday morning, October 9, golf at Belmont Country Club.

Robert Mueller

Thursday evening will feature a cocktail reception at the Copley, honoring NAFUSA’s member, Robert S. Mueller III, who completed 12 years last fall as the sixth Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a position he took one week prior to the September 11 attacks and held under two presidents.

Leslie CaldwellThe Friday morning CLE program will feature two panels. Jeff Taylor, Raytheon Company, will moderate a panel on Corporate Monitors. The panel members are Leslie Caldwell, shown right, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division; Michael Bromwich, Goodwin Procter and the Apple monitor; Kevin O’Connor, United Technologies; and Eric Feldman, Affiliated Monitors.




Steve VladeckThe second panel will be on National Security, moderated by Ken Wainstein,  with Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin, Professor Stephen Vladeck, left, American University Washington College of Law,  and Charlie Savage, below right, of the New York Times. On Friday afternoon, a boat cruise and lunch is planned in the Boston Harbor. Friday evening will be reserved for class reunion dinners.

Charlie Savage








The Saturday morning CLE will feature the awarding of this year’s Bradford Award to the AUSAs of the Year: Joseph Minish, John Gay and Steve Sanders of the District of New Jersey.

Loretta LynchThe morning will include a  Dialogue with EOUSA and the AGAC, moderated by President Don Stern and featuring Loretta Lynch, left, Chair of the AGAC and Monty Wilkinson, Director of EOUSA.




Prof. Stephen GillerslWilliam Leone, of Norton Rose Fulbright, will moderate a panel on The Ethical Issues Arising in Internal Investigations with panel members Prof. Stephen Gillers of NYU, shown above, Mary Pat Brown, former head of OPR at DOJ, and Karen Hewitt of Jones Day.




Frank MackamanThe CLE program will close with a panel discussion dealing with the 50 year anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, moderated by Doug Jones and featuring Gerald Stern, who was a young civil rights lawyer in the Justice Department during the Freedom Rides, John Stewart, former aide to Sen. Humphrey, Steven Pollack and Frank Mackaman, shown right, of the Dirksen Center.





On Saturday afternoon, there will be an optional tour of Fenway Park.

Commissioner Ed Davis

Commissioner Ed Davis

The conference will close on Saturday evening with a closing reception and dinner. The keynote speaker will be Edward F. Davis, former Boston Police Department Commissioner who will speak on “Lessons Learned from the Boston Marathon Bombing.”  Davis has been in law enforcement for 35 years. He served as the 40th Police Commissioner of the City of Boston from December 2006 until October 2013. Commissioner Davis was Boston’s lead police official during the tragic Marathon bombing and testified before Congress about the bombing and lessons learned. Prior to that, Davis was the Superintendent of the Lowell Police Department, a position he held for 12 years and one he rose to after starting out as a patrol officer in 1978.

The conference will be held on Columbus Day weekend with several offices closed on Monday, October 13. The fall is a great time in the East and a fine time to plan some extra days to watch the leaves turn.

NAFUSA Board Meets in Napa

Napa Board Meeting

NAFUSA officers and board members met in Napa Valley on June 6-7, 2014 for their annual spring meeting. The meeting was held at the Villagio Inn and Spa in Yountville, California. As is the custom, members paid their own travel and hotel expenses.

Executive Director Emeritus Mahlon Brown and Pat Brown joined the board for the weekend, and local members Joe Russinello and Chuck Stevens, along with their wives, Moira and Ann, also attended as guests. Joe Russinello hosted a golf outing at Silverado as well.

President Don Stern reported on the early plans for the Boston conference to be held on October 9-11 at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. The Thursday evening cocktail reception will honor Bob Mueller. Registration is expected to begin in July. NAFUSA has the support of $85,000 in sponsors, with more sponsors expected. A full list of sponsors can be found on the website and in each monthly newsletter.

Executive Director Rich Rossman reported that NAFUSA has 261 active members,  including 53 life members and 20 seniors (over 70 and fully retired). Unfortunately 42 members have yet to pay their 2014 dues, which were payable February 28, 2014. The present dues structure is not sufficient to pay operating expenses, and NAFUSA relies upon its sponsors. Nevertheless, the board voted to retain the present schedule of annual dues at $150, seniors at $50 and lifetime dues at $1500. The board also voted to maintain the conference registration fees at $400 per member and $300 for a spouse. These rates have been the same for several years.

For the past three years, the executive director has been assisted by his nephew, Ken Rossman, for technical support. With Ken’s support, the webpage and the newsletter have been significantly upgraded. Ken has decided to step down, and the board approved the hiring of John Steele of Denver, Colorado, as Ken’s replacement. John will be a first year law student in the fall and has significant technical experience. He will continue in the IT field during the day and attend law school at night. The board is hopeful that John will establish a model we can use in the future and when he graduates law school we can find another IT consultant/law student to take his place.

President Elect Matt Orwig confirmed that the 2015 conference will be held on October 15-18 at The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Vice President Greg Vega advised that the 2016 conference will be in San Diego.

Schar Appointed Special Counsel in “Bridgegate”

Reid Schar at the Atlanta conference in 2012

Reid Schar at the Atlanta conference in 2012

Reid Schar, recipient of NAFUSA’s J. Michael Bradford Award in 2012, has been named  by the New Jersey General Assembly to act as special counsel for the committee to investigate allegations that aides to Governor Christie caused the closure of lanes leading from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge for political retaliation.

Schar was nominated for the Bradford Award by NAFUSA member Patrick Fitzgerald, then the U.S. Attorney for the ND of Illinois. The award recognized Schar’s work in the investigation and prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Schar served as an AUSA from 1999 to 2012, when he left government service to join Jenner & Block in Chicago.

Washington Conference Photos On Line

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Several hundred photos from the September 2013 Washington conference have been added to the NAFUSA online photo gallery.

The four most recent thumbnails in the gallery represent the Thursday evening reception at Jones Day, the Friday and Saturday day events, and the Saturday banquet. When you click on an event, a new page opens with thumbnails of images from that particular day or event. (Direct links to the four individual events are below.)

  • On an event thumbnail page, you may enlarge (or decrease) the size of the thumbnails with the slider at the top right.
  • For a slideshow of all of the images from that event, click Slideshow at the top left.
  • Click on any image on the thumbnails page for a large version of that photo. You can then proceed through the photos one-at-a-time (using the v-shaped arrows at the right and left of image).
  • You may download or order a print of any individual photo using the buttons at the top. For the 2013 Conference downloaded files are 3456 x 2304, approximately 1 MB each.


Day at Justice

NAFUSA 2013 (1)


During this year’s NAFUSA conference in Washington, all NAFUSA members were invited to attend a “Day at Justice”: an entire afternoon at Main Justice. The format was informal, with NAFUSA members leading a “dialogue” with Department leaders. NAFUSA President Jay Stephens led a discussion with DAG Jim Cole; Ken Wainstein with FBI Director Jim Comey; Joe Whitley with Associate AG Tony West; and incoming NAFUSA President Don Stern with EOUSA Director Marshall Jarrett, AGAC Chair Loretta Lynch and Associate Deputy AG David Margolis.

The event was hosted by EOUSA which did a great job of making NAFUSA members comfortable and welcome. At the end of the discussion, EOUSA invited the NAFUSA members to gather in the DOJ courtyard for a group photo, shown above.

Jay Stephens with DAG Jim Cole

Jay Stephens with DAG Jim Cole

Ken Wainstein with Director JIm Comey

Ken Wainstein with Director JIm Comey

Joe Whitley with Associate AG Tony West

Joe Whitley with Associate AG Tony West

Don Stern with Loretta Lynch, David Margolis and Marshall Jarrett

Don Stern with Loretta Lynch, David Margolis and Marshall Jarrett



DC Conference Great Success

Jay Stephens & Don Stern

As the DC conference came to a close last Saturday evening, newly installed President Don Stern told the audience that “he could not promise to beat the effort” of outgoing President Jay Stephens, but he promised to “match it” next year in Boston. In the photo above, Stern is handing Stephens a parting gift for his year of outstanding service: a 150 year old antique spy glass.

Pete Williams


Stephens led a conference planning committee consisting of Kent Alexander, Jeff Taylor, Sharon Zealey, Ken Wainstein and Rich Rossman, who put together a well received program, capped by the keyote address by Pete Williams, of NBC, shown above. Other highlights included five outsanding panels: “Navigating the  False Claims Act”, “National Security and Surveillance”, “Counter-terrorism, National Security and the Law”, “Criminal Disclosure Ethics” and “Supreme Court Issues.” In addition, all NAFUSA members were invited to spend Friday afternoon at the Department of Justice to meet with DAG Jim Cole, FBI Director Jim Comey, Associate AG Tony West and the leaders of the US Attorney community: Marshall Jarrett, Loretta Lynch and David Margolis. [It was hoped that we would be able to post the photo that DOJ took of the NAFUSA members assembled in the courtyard of Main Justice, but the shutdown has made the photographer unavailable.] A full list of the conference speakers can be found on the NAFUSA website under the link for “conferences.”

Justice Alito with Jay and Julie Stephens

Among the highlights of the conference were the Friday night “reunion” dinners. Bill Lutz was able to obtain an invitation from Justice Alito, who served as the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, to have the Reagan-Bush I US Attorneys dine at the Supreme Court. The Justice is shown above with Jay and Julie Stephens. Below is a photo of the entire US Attorney group with the Justice.

NAFUSA at the Supreme Court

The Carter alums also held an alumni dinner and invited former Attorney Genral Ben Civiletti and his wife. In addition, Ninth Circuit Judge Mike Hawkins, who flew in just for Friday night, attended, as did Marti Robinson, wife of the late Jim Robinson. The Carter group graciously invited some of the more senior members who, although not Carter US Attorneys, had no other class reunions to attend. The Carter group and friends are shown below.

Carter alums

Donald K. Stern, shown below, was elected to serve as NAFUSA president until the next conference in Boston on Columbus Day weekend, October 9-11, 2014, at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. The new slate of officers elected were: President Elect Matt Orwig, Vice President Greg Vega, Secretary Bart Daniel, Treasurer Doug Jones and Immediate Past President Jay Stephens.

Don Stern

The board members elected to serve a three year term were Alice Martin, Catherine Hanaway, Kevin O’Connor, Hal Hardin and Bob Cleary. Zach Carter was elected to fill a vacancy in the class of 2014 caused by Doug Jones moving into the chairs.

In addition to the 2014 conference being held in Boston, the 2015 conference will be in Scotsdale and the 2016 conference in San Diego.

NAFUSA retained a professional photographer to depict the events of the conference, and many photos will soon be posted on the website along with photos from past conferences.

Finally a word about our sponsors. NAFUSA raised $97,500 in sponsor contribuitons this year, by far a new record. A full list can be found on this page. The conference would not have been possible without this support. Our sponsors deserve a “shout out” as well as our business!