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 Bart Daniel. Its members included Doug Jones, Ed Dowd, Kent Alexander, Don Washington, Hal Hardin, Sharon Zealey, and Rich Rossman. This year, the Board voted to give the award to two AUSAs from separate districts. Elizabeth Geddes, from the Eastern District of New York, was nominated by then United States Attorney and now Attorney General Loretta Lynch, for a variety of investigations and prosecutions resulting in the near complete dismantlement of the Colombo crime family. Joan Hartman, from the Eastern District of Michigan, was nominated by United States Attorney Barbara McQuade, for her exceptional accomplishments in transforming the way the Department of Justice fights health care fraud. The committee and board of directors decided both nominees were worthy of the Bradford Award and declared them each 2015 winners.
Elizabeth Geddes is an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York and is currently the chief of the Organized Crime and Gangs section in the EDNY. In that role, she oversees the Office’s criminal prosecutions of members and associates of organized groups who commit crimes including racketeering, murder, extortion, narcotics trafficking, fraud, and sex trafficking. Prior to her current assignment, she served as deputy chief of the General Crimes section and acting deputy chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering section. Geddes clerked for the Honorable Frederic Block of the Eastern District of New York. She graduated University of Notre Dame in 1997 and graduated Georgetown University Law Center magna cum laude in 2004.
Geddes has distinguished herself through her work in a variety of investigations and prosecutions resulting in the near complete dismantlement of the Colombo crime family, a violent criminal enterprise that had once functioned as one of the five powerful La Cosa Nostra crime families. Numerous Colombo family members have been held accountable for multiple murders including the 1997 murder of New York City Police Officer Ralph Dols, a murder that long remained unsolved.
Joan E. Hartman is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan and the civil health care fraud case coordinator for that district. Hartman has pioneered the use of data to identify and rank potential health care fraud targets nationwide and to measure the effectiveness of prosecutorial efforts in establishing deterrence and reducing overall Medicare costs by district. Hartman conducts nationwide and district-level training for prosecutors and agents on making the most effective use of data in developing targets and cases. Hartman has previously received a Director’s Award and a Civil Division Special Commendation award for her work in the data analytics area. In June 2015, Hartman also received a Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Award for Excellence as part of the team that handled the investigation and prosecution of oncologist Farid Fata.
Prior to moving to Michigan, Hartman was an Assistant Director in the Civil Frauds section of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC. She handled trial and appellate matters arising under the False Claims Act and the civil conflict of interest laws, including briefing several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. She also handled a broad range of other matters ranging from a trial in the Hague defending against Iran’s claim that the United States breached the Algiers Accords, to a Ninth Circuit appeal establishing the legal status of the Northern Mariana Islands. Hartman is also the author of several Monographs on legal issues that are widely used within the Department of Justice and client agencies. Hartman is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the Yale Law Journal and winner of the Francis Wayland Prize for litigation skills, and she received her undergraduate degree from Princeton University summa cum laude. Hartman lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with her husband, John Rothchild, who is Associate Professor of Law at Wayne State Law School, and her two children, Julia, a senior at Yale, and Daniel, a junior at Harvard.
The other nominees were:
Deborah A. Griffin, SD Alabama, nominated by United States Attorney Kenyen R. Brown, for her investigation and prosecution of ZenBio, a producer of synthetic cannabinoid.
James T. Lacy, District of Arizona, nominated by United States Attorney John Leonardo, for his work in rooting out and prosecuting corruption, fraud, and drug traffickers.
Kirk E. Sherrif, ED of California, nominated by United States Attorney Ben Wagner, for his successful prosecution of Crisp & Cole, a high profile mortgage brokerage and real estate firm.
Todd W. Robinson, SD of California, nominated by United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy, for his investigation and prosecution of the Luz Verde RICO case, a violent cross-border criminal enterprise.
Juan Antonio Gonzalez, SD of Florida, nominated by United States Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer, for his prosecution of several Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) level cases.
William L. McKinnon, Jr., ND of Georgia, nominated by United States Attorney John A. Horn, for his work in fighting public corruption.
Charles J. Williams, ND of Iowa, nominated by United States Attorney Kevin W. Techau, for his investigation and prosecution of an Indian Country double homicide case.
Matthew G. Borgula and Sally Berens, WD of Michigan, nominated by United States Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr, for their efforts in the successful prosecution o a $46 million Ponzi scheme.
Michael P. Norris, District of Nebraska, nominated by United States Attorney Deborah R. Gilg, for his work in an internationally significant child pornography investigation.
David W. Feder and Letecia B. Vandehaar, District of New Jersey, nominated by United States Attorney Paul Fishman, for their investigation of Merrill Lynch’s subprime residential mortgage-backed securities platform and the $16.65 billion civll settlement with Bank of America.
Nicole W. Friedlander, SD New York, nominated by United States Attorney Preet Bharara for her high impact prosecutions in the area of consumer fraud and cybercrime.
Christopher M. Stephens, WD of Oklahoma, nominated by United States Attorney Sanford C. Coats for his work in the first prosecution in the nation involving fraud in the Federal Communication Commission’s wireless Lifeline Program.
Frederic N. Weinhouse, District of Oregon, nominated by United States Attorney Amanda Marshall, for his work as the Project Safe Neighborhood Coordinator for Oregon.
Heather H. Rattan, ED of Texas, nominated by United States Attorney John M. Bales, for her work in dismantling Colombia’s largest cocaine transportation network.
James H. Sturgis, SD of Texas, nominated by United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson, for his successful prosecution of the “Panama Unit”, an elite counter-drug task force.
Debra Kanof, WD of Texas. nominated by United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin Jr., for her successful investigation and prosecution of widespread public corruption in El Paso city and county government.