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San Francisco US Attorney Names Leadership Team, Creates Corporate Fraud 'Strike Force'

By Ross Todd 

San Francisco U.S. Attorney David Anderson has announced his new leadership team for the office and made a number of moves aimed at boosting the number of cases the office can prosecute and the speed with which it can handle them.

Among the most notable of the moves, Anderson, who took office in January, has announced the creation of a new corporate fraud strike force helmed by the former chief of a similar unit aimed at tackling organized crime. Anderson announced the leadership moves in an internal email sent to office employees Thursday night and discussed his new initiatives at an all-hands meeting Monday.

In the run-up to Monday’s meeting, Anderson told The Recorder that the new strike force would be aimed at “investigation and prosecution of corporate fraud with an emphasis on speed and the broadest possible deterrent effect.” Although the new unit has yet to be staffed, Anderson has named Wil Frentzen, the former chief of the office’s organized crime strike force to resume the role. Anderson said the office traditionally has emphasized document requests, subpoenas and proffers to pursue corporate fraud cases, as most U.S. attorney’s offices do. Going forward, Anderson said he wants the office to “bring the whole array of tools that Congress have given us” including wiretaps, search warrants and criminal complaints, rather than grand jury indictments where appropriate.

The number of cases the office handles and pace with which it handles them have both dropped considerably since 2009, when Anderson was first assistant U.S. attorney under Joseph Russoniello. According to the U.S. Attorneys’ Annual Statistical Reports, the office brought felony charges against 1,092 defendants in fiscal year 2009—nearly twice as many as the 589 brought in fiscal year 2017, the last year data is available. At the same time the office had 2,479 defendants pending with felony charges in 2017—more than 400 more than the 2,057 which were pending in 2009. Disposition times have increased on average from 6.9 months to 16.3 months over that time, according to Federal Court Management Statistics for the Northern District of California.

“This is not something where we’re going to be asking everybody to work twice as hard,” Anderson said. “Everybody is already working very hard.” Anderson said that, where appropriate, he is going to ask prosecutors to make their best plea offer at the beginning of cases, set deadlines for defendants to take them, and prepare for trial, if no deal could be reached. Among the leadership moves, Anderson has named veteran prosecutor Adam Reeves as first assistant U.S. attorney. Reeves and Frentzen were part of a trial team last year that secured a guilty verdict against former Autonomy CFO Sushovan Hussain who was convicted of fraudulently pumping up the software company’s financial returns in the runup to its $11 billion purchase by Hewlett-Packard in 2011.

Anderson also has tapped Stephanie Hinds and Josh Eaton as deputy U.S. attorneys, with Eaton charged with heading operations and management and Hinds set to head up the office’s intake of new criminal matters.

Hallie Hoffman, one of the lead members of the trial team which won a 2016 felony conviction of Pacific Gas & Electricity Co., will be the office’s new criminal division chief.

Sara Winslow, a longtime leader in the office’s civil division, will continue as its chief. Winslow, who joined the office in 2001, also served as a deputy chief f the civil division from 2003 to 2016. Kim Friday, Michelle Lo, and Neill seng will be her deputies.

Anderson is set to make his first public appearance as U.S. attorney at an Association of Business Trial Lawyers dinner program Tuesday, March 5. There he is set to discuss the topic “White Collar Crime In A High Tech World” with Cris Arguedas of Arguedas, Cassman, Headley & Goldman and Patrick Robbins of Shearman & Sterling in a panel moderated by U.S. District Judge Haywood Gilliam Jr. of the Northern District of California.

The rest of Anderson’s leadership team is as follows:

  • Jeff Nedrow is San Jose branch chief, and Jeff Schenk is deputy chief.

  • Garth Hire is Oakland branch chief, and Michelle Kane is deputy chief.

  • David Countryman is chief of the asset forfeiture section.

  • Merry Jean Chane is chief of the appellate section.

  • John Hemann is chief of the special prosecutions section.

  • Tom Colthurst is chief of organized crime drug enforcement task force and Sheila Armbrust is deputy chief.

  • Brigid Martin is chief of the organized crime strike force and Karen Kreuzkamp is deputy chief.

  • Laura Vartain Horn is chief of the general crimes section and Helen Gilbert is deputy chief.

  • Matt Parella is senior litigation counsel title with a particular emphasis on computer hacking and the protection of intellectual property.

Accessed from: The Recorder, https://www.law.com/therecorder/2019/03/04/san-francisco-u-s-attorney-names-leadership-team-creates-corporate-fraud-strike-force/

Candis MitchellAUSA