District of New Jersey sees Increase in Prosecutions of both Violent and White Collar Crime
NEWARK, N.J. – One year after U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito reorganized the structure of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, overall criminal prosecutions have increased 51 percent, including a 65 percent jump in violent crime prosecutions, a 39 percent jump in narcotics related prosecutions, and a 15 percent jump in white collar crime prosecutions.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito’s goal in restructuring the office was to focus on areas of criminal and civil enforcement that would pay the biggest dividends in protecting New Jersey’s citizens. To that end, he established three new units in the Criminal Division (the Opioids, Violent Crime, and Cyber Units), increased the number of prosecutors by approximately 25 percent, doubled the size of the office’s paralegal corps, and implemented an “eLitigation” program to improve the way the office receives and processes information. One year later, the results of these improvements have been felt across the state of New Jersey.
“Over the past year, we have focused our efforts in gun and drug cases to target the most violent offenders,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “The results have been very encouraging. Both Newark and Camden, for example, have seen significant drops in their respective crime rates, year-over-year, and both are at their lowest crime rates in 50 years. But statistics only tell part of the story. These results also have a positive impact on the lives of the people who live here.”
“The New Jersey U.S. Attorney’s Office’s responsiveness and flexibility in dealing with a shifting threat picture is a true model for progressive prevention,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie said. “The reorganization of critical assets has greatly increased prosecutorial efficiency, allowing New Jersey local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to more effectively combat criminal and national security challenges. This is yet another example of the outstanding partnership U.S. Attorney Carpenito and his office have continually displayed.”
“U.S. Attorney Carpenito’s new vision for his office is bringing great results,” Susan A. Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New Jersey Division, said. “His formation of the Opioid Abuse Prevention and Enforcement Unit sends a clear message that his office will prosecute those who choose to poison our communities with these very dangerous drugs. It is very reassuring for the men and women of DEA’s New Jersey Division to know the U.S. Attorney fully supports their investigations.”
“The safety and well-being of our citizens is a vital part of our mission,” ATF Newark Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Christopher Taylor said. “ATF, in partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office and our other federal, state and local law enforcement partners, will continue to focus our investigative resources on arresting and prosecuting the most violent criminals who use firearms to terrorize our communities and on those individuals who supply firearms to this criminal element. Protecting our neighborhoods from violent crime is a priority for the citizens of New Jersey and ATF.”
In the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2017, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 467 defendants by indictment or information. By contrast, in the one year since U.S. Attorney Carpenito’s reorganization, the U.S. Attorney’s Office charged 707 defendants by indictment or information, an increase of 51 percent.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office leads “Violent Crime Initiatives,” partnerships among federal, state and local law enforcement, in two major areas in New Jersey, Newark and Jersey City. (A similar model, known as “C-4,” has been active in Camden for several years.) The VCIs collect information from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies, identify and prioritize the offenders posing the highest threats to public safety, and coordinate responses to those threats. Through the VCIs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office spearheads targeted investigations into individuals and organizations responsible for significant violent activity.
In October 2018, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced two significant takedowns of violent drug gangs. On Oct. 11, the office charged 17 members, associates, and drug suppliers of the Famous Boyz – a subset of the Brick City Brims set of the Bloods street gang – which dealt significant quantities of heroin and crack cocaine in Newark and possessed and used firearms in furtherance of the gang’s drug trafficking activities. And on Oct. 25, the office charged 27 individuals who used violence as part of a conspiracy to distribute significant quantities of heroin and other narcotics in Trenton, and whose members possessed numerous firearms in furtherance of the gang’s activities.
The program has already shown success:
• Crime is down 15 percent in Newark from 2017 to 2018.
• Shooting incidents are down 30 percent in Newark between 2017 and 2018, and down another 39 percent between comparable periods in 2018 and 2019.
• The office has taken more than 100 new cases arising from Newark since the reorganization.
• The VCI program has recently started in Jersey City, and shooting incidents are down 69 percent in Jersey City between comparable periods in 2018 and 2019.
• Violent crime was down 18 percent in Camden from 2017 to 2018.
“The remarkable progress we’ve had in Camden is built on many things,” Chief Thomson said. “Its foundation is establishing trust with the community, but also trust among local, state and federal law enforcement partners. We have that kind of trust with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey, and U.S. Attorney Carpenito has worked hard to provide his Camden office with the people and resources needed to be valuable contributors to the law enforcement team we’ve assembled here.”
“One of the advantages of the reorganization of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is the targeting of resources on the mission of reducing violent crime,” Public Safety Director Anthony Ambrose said. “In 2018 the U.S. Attorney’s office handled over 120 cases that specifically helped Newark, resulting in more than 100 fewer shooting victims compared to 2017 and a 35 percent reduction in robberies.”
“Violent crime, specifically related to shootings and gun offenses, has been priority number one for the Jersey City Police Department, along with its essential partner, the Hudson County Prosecutor,” Jersey City Police Chief Michael J. Kelly said. “Now, with the ‘Violent Crime Initiative’ and the Office of U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito fully engaged, Jersey City is about to become even safer. Partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office is a major win for all our neighborhoods in Jersey City and bad news for those that perpetuate violence in our community.”
Along with the renewed focus on violent criminal offenders, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has continued to pursue and prosecute white collar criminals, with the number of those defendants charged by information or indictment up 15 percent in the year since the reorganization was announced. In 2019 alone, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has announced charges in several significant white collar cases, including:
• The Jan. 15, 2019, unsealing of a significant indictment charging two Ukrainian men for their roles in a large-scale, international conspiracy to hack into the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) computer systems and profit by trading on critical information they stole.
• The Feb. 13, 2019, complaint charging Gene Levoff, a former senior attorney at a global technology company, with insider trading.
• The Feb. 14, 2019, indictment charging the former President and former General Counsel of Cognizant, a Fortune 500 company, with FCPA violations for allegedly bribing officials in India.
“I could not be prouder of the way this office and our federal, state and local law enforcement partners have worked to implement these changes, or the results we have achieved so far,” U.S. Attorney Carpenito said. “It’s because we are a team, no one person or entity more important to the mission than any other, that we succeed. But challenges remain and we must remain vigilant if we hope to build on our success. As the current caretaker of this office, I’m proud to have the opportunity to continue the outstanding traditions of this place and law enforcement in New Jersey.”