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Department of Justice Accomplishments

On his first day as Attorney General, Eric Holder promised the Department’s top priority — and its chief responsibility — would be protecting the security, rights and interests of the American people. Nearly four years later, together with the extraordinary men and women who serve at the Department of Justice, that promise has been fulfilled and under Attorney General Holder the Department will continue its important work on behalf of all Americans. Here you will find some of the Justice Department’s top accomplishments under the leadership of Attorney General Holder.

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Terrorism and National Security | Violent Crime | Financial Fraud
Protecting Vulnerable Populations | Transparency | Environmental Justice

Protecting the American People Against Terrorism and Other Threats to National Security

The Department of Justice has thwarted multiple terrorist plots against the United States. From 2009 through 2011, the Department convicted more than 100 individuals of serious federal terrorism violations. During 2009 and 2010, the Department charged more defendants with serious terrorism offenses than during any other two-year period since 9/11.

Significant accomplishments include:

  • In 2012, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, also known as the “underwear bomber,” was sentenced to life in prison for his attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253 on Christmas Day 2009.
  • In 2012, Naser Jason Abdo was convicted in connection with his plot to carry out a bomb attack on soldiers from Fort Hood and was later sentenced to life in prison.
  • In 2012, Khalid Aldawsari was convicted in connection with his purchase of materials to make a bomb and his research of potential U.S. targets, including the Dallas home of former President George W. Bush, as well as hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants.
  • In 2011, the Department disrupted a plot approved by members of the Iranian military to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the U.S. with explosives. Manssor Arbabsiar pleaded guilty to his role in the plot in 2012.
  • In 2010, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for attempting to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square.
  • In 2009, a combined law enforcement and intelligence investigation thwarted an al-Qaeda plot to carry out suicide bomb attacks on the New York subway system, resulting in the successful prosecution of seven defendants to date and charges against several others.

The Department of Justice has successfully executed ground-breaking counterintelligence operations. Since 2009, the Department has successfully dismantled several major espionage networks including:

  • In 2012, Bryan Underwood, a former guard at a U.S. Consulate under construction in China, pleaded guilty in connection with his efforts to sell classified photographs and information about the U.S. Consulate to China.
  • In 2011, Stewart Nozette, a former White House National Space Council member, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted espionage and was later sentenced to 13 years in prison.
  • In 2010, in collaboration with partners across the government, the Department dismantled a network of Russian agents that had been operating clandestinely in the U.S. for years.  The successful prosecution, exposure and removal of these individuals from the U.S. represented one of the most successful counterintelligence operations in modern U.S. history.
  • In 2010, Noshir Gowadia, a former B-2 bomber engineer, was convicted on numerous criminal charges related to helping China design a stealthy cruise missile and was later sentenced to 32 years in prison.
  • In 2010, Glenn Shriver, a one-time CIA applicant, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide classified information to Chinese intelligence officers.
  • In 2009, Walter Myers, a former State Department official, pleaded guilty in connection with a nearly 30-year conspiracy to provide classified information to Cuban intelligence agents and was later sentenced to life in prison.

The Department of Justice has prevented U.S. military and strategic technologies from falling into the wrong hands. In recent years, the Department has increased its multi-agency efforts to counter the ever-growing threat posed by the illegal foreign acquisition of controlled U.S. military and strategic technologies. These efforts have resulted in hundreds of investigations, indictments and arrests, as well numerous successful extraditions and the disruption of major international procurement networks, particularly those seeking U.S. munitions and sensitive technology for Iran and China. In recent years, roughly a third of the major export and embargo-related criminal prosecutions have involved the attempted transfer of controlled U.S. technology to Iran or China.

Efforts to date include:

  • In 2011, Department efforts disrupted a network procuring U.S. components for illegal export to Iran, many of which later ended up in Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq.
  • In 2012, a Canadian subsidiary of a major U.S. defense contractor pleaded guilty to criminal charges for exporting U.S.-origin military software to China for use in the development of China’s first modern military attack helicopter.
  • In 2012, the Department disrupted an international network conspiring to illegally export to Iran U.S.-origin materials for the construction of gas centrifuges to enrich uranium.
  • In 2012, the Department disrupted a Russian procurement network in the United States that was illegally exporting U.S. microelectronics to Russian military and intelligence agencies.

The Department of Justice has continued to identify and disrupt Narco-terrorist networks. Since 2009, the Department has continued to combat drug trafficking by those who use the profits to fund terrorist activities with a particular focus in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Examples include:

  • In December 2009, three Al Qaeda associates were arrested in Ghana for conspiracy to commit acts of narco-terrorism and conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.  This arrest marked the first time that associates of Al Qaeda were charged with narcoterrorism offenses.
  • The Department leads the Afghanistan Threat Finance Center, an interagency effort to identify, disrupt and interdict the sources of funding for insurgent and terrorist organizations operating in Afghanistan.
  • The Department conducted a successful investigation that led to the arrest, extradition and conviction of Viktor Bout – one of the world’s most notorious arms traffickers – for conspiring to sell weapons, including surface-to-air missile systems and armor piercing rocket launchers, to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a designated terrorist organization.

Last updated: October 2012

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Protecting the American People From Violent and Other Crimes

Violent crime rates have steadily declined in the last four years as the Department has successfully prosecuted national, international gangs and traditional organized crime groups. The Department has aggressively pursued fighting traditional organized crime groups like La Cosa Nostra (LCN) while addressing evolving and emerging threats - from street gangs to transnational organized crime groups -which continue to pose significant threats to the safety and security of our communities.

Significant accomplishments include:

  • In January 2010, the Department announced the largest mafia takedown in its history, involving charges against more than 125 members of LCN. Since that time, numerous LCN members and associates in Philadelphia, Providence, R.I. and New York have been convicted of racketeering and other offenses, and other defendants are pending trial.
  • Department prosecutors have vigorously prosecuted the most notorious national and international violent gangs operating in U.S. cities and along the Southwest border, including:
    • MS-13 in North Carolina, Maryland and California;
    • Bloods and Vice Lords in Tennessee;
    • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas and Barrio Azteca in Texas; and
    • Latin Kings in Illinois and Indiana.

The Department has successfully prosecuted thousands of violent criminals for illegal gun possession. For the past four years, the Department’s investigations resulted in the prosecution of more than 55,000 defendants – many of whom were involved with criminal groups or gangs - for violations of firearms laws.

Of those defendants:

  • 63 percent were previously convicted felons and 84 percent had been previously arrested
  • 28,037 were convicted for firearms-related offenses, 11,861 were referred for prosecution for violations related to the trafficking of firearms,, and 5,612 of those defendants have been convicted to date
  • 15,388 were involved with criminal groups or gangs and 7,250 have been convicted to date

The Department has successfully arrested and prosecuted large numbers of dangerous fugitives.

Since 2009, the Department has:

  • Arrested 19 fugitives that have been featured on its 15 Most Wanted list
  • Conducted its sixth nationwide fugitive apprehensive initiative, leading to the arrest of 35,190 fugitives
  • Participated in efforts to combat violent crime in New Orleans, leading to the arrest of 432 fugitive felons
  • Directed six anti-gang initiatives that led to the arrest of 731 gang members
  • Arrested more than 1,700 international and foreign fugitives
  • Conducted more than 600 operations targeting sex offenders, contributing to the arrest of 33,200 sex offenders

The Department is working to hold accountable those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon Disaster. The Department is continues to investigate the explosion that led to the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and will hold accountable those who violated the law in connection with the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history.

Actions announced to date include: 

  • In February 2012, the Department announced an agreement with MOEX Offshore to settle its Clean Water Act liability in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  According to the terms of the settlement, MOEX will pay $70 million in civil penalties– the largest civil penalty to date under the Clean Water Act – and will spend $20 million to facilitate land acquisition projects in several Gulf States that will preserve and protect in perpetuity habitat and resources important to water quality.
  • The Department continues to prosecute all other facets of the December 2010 lawsuit, including pursuit of declaration of the Oil Pollution Act liability and civil penalties against BP, Anadarko and Transocean under the Clean Water Act.
  • The Department has secured partial summary judgment on portions of these claims already.  The first of several trial phases is currently being scheduled in federal court in New Orleans, while discovery proceeds on the second phase of the case.
  • The Deepwater Horizon Task Force is investigating all possible criminal violations. Kurt Mix, a former engineer for BP plc, was arrested on April 24, 2012, on charges of intentionally destroying evidence requested by federal criminal authorities investigating the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  The investigation is ongoing.

The Department is using innovative law enforcement strategies to prosecute cyber and intellectual property crime. The Department has advanced the fight against intellectual property crime, which threatens the global economy and stifles innovation and creativity, as well as global cyber threats, which can disrupt critical infrastructure such as the power grid, nuclear power plants, financial and banking institutions, transportation systems and vital communication systems. Cybercrime also plays a key role in the theft of classified or personal identification information or valuable intellectual property and can also aid in the recruitment, inspiration and incitement of terrorists.

The Department’s notable efforts include:

  • In January 2012, the Department indicted seven individuals and two corporations for running an international organized criminal enterprise allegedly responsible for massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works, through This action is among the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States and directly targets the misuse of a public content storage and distribution site to commit and facilitate intellectual property.
  • In April 2011, the Department helped to dismantle a dangerous “botnet,” which is a network of computers that have been infected by malicious software designed to take control of countless PCs without the user’s knowledge or consent, known as Coreflood. Coreflood was believed to have infected more than two million computers worldwide with malicious software that caused the computers to be controlled remotely for the purpose of stealing the users' key strokes to reveal personal and financial information. The stolen data was then used to gain access to financial accounts and steal funds. The disbandment of Coreflood was done through strategic use of civil and criminal authorities as part of the most complete and comprehensive enforcement action ever taken by U.S authorities to disable an international botnet.
  • In March 2012, federal agencies, coordinating parallel international investigations, disrupted massive conspiracies to import hundreds of millions of dollars in counterfeit goods from China and 50 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine from Taiwan, and to export restricted U.S. military technology to Taiwan and China.  Twenty-nine defendants were charged in four separate complaints and 27 have been arrested for their roles in the scheme that attempted to defeat federal border and port security measures at Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal in Elizabeth, N.J. 

The Department has provided unprecedented support for state and local law enforcement partners. From 2009 to 2012, the Department provided $3.6 billion in Justice Assistance Grant funding, including $2 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This critical funding supports states, local governments and tribes in meeting their most pressing criminal justice needs. Over the last four years, the Department’s efforts have helped create and save close to 8,000 law enforcement jobs.

For example:

  • The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act helped the Department support more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country, awarding nearly $1 billion to fund the hiring of more than 3,800 new officers.  The 2009 program also allowed awarded agencies to retain 881 positions that were in jeopardy of being cut.
  • The 2010 appropriation for COPS Hiring Grants funded 1,177 new law enforcement officer positions for a three-year grant term, plus saved 211 jobs nearly lost to cuts. In September 2011, the COPS Office awarded $243 million for nearly 1,021 law enforcement officer positions.
  • In June of 2012, COPS awarded $111 million to fund 600 new law enforcement positions, plus save an additional 200 positions in jeopardy of being cut.  And in response to the Administration’s goal of providing new career opportunities for men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the COPS Office required that all new hires funded through the 2012 Hiring Program must be recent military veterans. 
  • To date, the COPS Office has funded the addition of more than 123,000 community policing officers across the country.
  • The Department has shared more than $1.2 billion in forfeited assets and proceeds with state and local law enforcement agencies and distributed more than $880 million to claimants and victims of crime.
  • The Department has revamped and streamlined the process for tribes to apply for funding and has awarded nearly $250 billion in public safety grants to more than 150 tribal communities in the last two years alone.
  • The Department has supported public safety partnerships that maximize resources and adopt evidence-based practices that are backed by data and research.  Through the Smart Policing Initiative, the Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) funds innovative collaborations between law enforcement agencies and research institutions in 32 cities.

The Department has made an unprecedented commitment to ensuring officer safety. In response to a rise in deadly assaults on our nation’s law enforcement officers, the Department has dedicated funding resources, training and research to protecting those who protect our communities. These efforts have led to increased vigilance and training, helping to decrease officer fatalities by approximately 25 percent since 2o11.

For example:

  • As law enforcement officer deaths spiked in 2010, the Department provided more than $25 million to law enforcement agencies to purchase more than 79,000 units of bullet-resistant body armor.  In 2012, BJA’s Bulletproof Vest Partnership Program provided more than $28 million to more than 4,200 jurisdictions to help them purchase more than 96,000 vests.  This year, body armor has saved the lives of at least 25 law enforcement officers, including seven who were wearing vests purchased, in part, with federal funds.
  • Developed as part of the Attorney General’s law enforcement safety initiative, the VALOR program provides critical training and technical assistance to law enforcement on preventing violence against officers—and ensuring officer resilience and survivability following violent encounters.  Since the program’s inception in 2010, VALOR has trained more than 6,000 law enforcement professionals.
  • In 2011, the Department initiated the national Officer Safety and Wellness (OSW) Group. The OSW Group brings together law enforcement leaders and criminal justice practitioners to share their broad perspectives on improving officer safety and wellness.

The Department is supporting effective offender reentry and reinvestment programs.

For example:

  • During fiscal year 2012, the Department awarded $58 million Second Chance Act grants to support reentry strategies for adults and youth.  These grants fund a wide range of government agencies and nonprofit organizations that are leading the way in administering reentry strategies that include not only evidence-based corrections and supervision strategies, but also employment assistance, housing, mentoring, substance abuse treatment, family programming and other services designed to reduce recidivism.
  • The 20 federal agencies of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council, created by the Attorney General in 2011, continue to find concrete ways to remove or help navigate employment and other barriers to successful reentry.  The Council’s efforts, along with the research and evaluation efforts sponsored by components within the Department, will promote effective, evidence-based practice.
  • The Department is supporting efforts that are demonstrating effectiveness.  As recently described in a Department-supported report, a number of states including Kansas, Michigan, Ohio and Texas have shown significant reductions in the three-year recidivism rate.  
  • In September, a “National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction” website was launched with Department support that allows searching and sorting – within and across jurisdictions – by consequence type, triggering offense category and a number of other salient characteristics.  This effort addresses about 35,000 statutes and regulations that impose collateral consequences, or additional punishments, on people convicted of crimes. About 50 percent of them have to do with barriers to employment.

Last updated: October 2012

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Protecting Taxpayer Dollars and Consumers Against Financial Fraud While Ensuring Competitive Markets

The Department has investigated and held accountable those responsible for financial fraud. In 2009, President Obama created the Financial Fraud Task Force to hold accountable those who helped bring about the last financial crisis.

Since its formation:

  • Task Force members have charged a record number of mortgage fraud-related cases, trained more than 100,000 professionals responsible for awarding and overseeing Recovery Act funds and held regional summits around the country to discuss strategies, resources and initiatives as well as to meet with communities most affected by the financial crisis.
  • In 2012, as part of the Task Force, the Attorney General launched the Consumer Protection Working Group consisting of federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies, as well as state and local partners, to confront and combat through prosecution and education consumer-related fraud, including schemes targeting vulnerable populations, such as the unemployed, those in need of payday loans, and the elderly. The working group also focuses on scams that exploit those in search of government grants and other federal assistance through telemarketing and use of third-party payment processors, which also can threaten the safety and soundness of our financial institutions, as well as active-duty military and veterans.
  • The Department has prosecuted some of the most significant financial crimes, bringing to justice individuals and companies alike for their illegal actions charging and in many instances convicting numerous individuals across the country who perpetrated investment, securities and other fraud schemes.
  • In the past year alone, members of the Task Force have charged and had sentenced a number of defendants involved in securities fraud and related investment fraud, mortgage fraud and Ponzi schemes.  These defendants include CEOs, owners, board members, presidents, general counsel and other executives of Wall Street firms, hedge funds and banks including:
    • On October 24, 2012, the Department filed a $1 billion civil mortgage fraud lawsuit against Bank of America Corporation and its predecessors Countrywide Financial Corporation and Countrywide Home Loans Inc. for engaging in a scheme to defraud the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), causing more than $1 billion dollars in losses and countless foreclosures.
    • On October 24, 2012, Rajat Gupta, chairman of an international consulting firm and member of the boards of directors at Goldman Sachs and Procter & Gamble, was sentenced to two years in prison for insider trading in which he provided confidential information about Goldman Sachs to his business partner and friend, Raj Rajaratnam.
    • On October 18, 2012, Dominick P. Carollo, Steven E. Goldberg and Peter S. Grimm, all former executives of General Electric Co. (GE) affiliates were sentenced in the Southern District of New York, for their participation in conspiracies related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts.
    • On September 18, 2012, Shawn L. Portmann, a former senior vice president and loan officer at Pierce Commercial Bank in Washington pleaded guilty to a mortgage fraud scheme that resulted in the collapse of the bank.
    • On September 11, 2012, former bank executive Joseph M. Braas was sentenced to 180 months in prison for his role in a fraud conspiracy that caused the Bank of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania to cease its independent existence.  As a result of the fraud, hundreds of jobs were lost. 
    • On August 31, 2012, former UBS AG executives, Peter Ghavami, Gary Heinz and Michael Welty, were found guilty for their participation in frauds related to bidding for contracts for the investment of municipal bond proceeds and other municipal finance contracts.
    • On August 17, 2012, Glen Alan Ward, a 12-year federal fugitive, was charged with aggravated identity theft and having operated a foreclosure-rescue scam in Southern California and other states that promised to postpone foreclosure sales for more than 800 distressed homeowners.
    • On July 12, 2012, top executives, including CEO and Board Chairman Edward Woodard, along with favored borrowers were indicted for masking non-performing assets for their personal benefit at Virginia’s Bank of the Commonwealth for their own personal benefit. This long-running scheme allegedly contributed to the failure of the bank in 2011, which the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) estimates will cost the FDIC deposit-insurance fund $268 million.
    • On July 5, 2012, the CEO of Axius Inc. Roland Kaufmann and finance professional Jean-Pierre Neuhaus were indicted for their alleged roles in a scheme to bribe stock brokers and manipulate the share price of Axius stock.
    • On June 27, 2012, Barclays Bank PLC, agreed to pay $160 million penalty to resolve violations arising from its false submissions for benchmark interest rates used in financial markets around the world.
    • On June 14, 2012, Financier Robert Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison for orchestrating a $7 billion investment fraud scheme.
    • On June 29, 2012, Peter Madoff, brother of Bernard Madoff and the former Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Managing Director of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, pleaded guilty to securities fraud, tax fraud, mail fraud, falsifying records of an investment advisor and making false statements to investors.  Peter Madoff faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and must forfeit more than $143.1 billion including his personal property.
    • On June 1, 2012, CEO Eric A. Bloom and head trader Charles K. Mosley of Illinois bankrupt Sentinel Management Group Inc. were indicted on federal fraud charges for allegedly defrauding more than 70 customers of more than $500 million before the firm collapsed in August 2007.
    • On April 30, 2012, Minor Vargas Calvo, president of Costa-Rica based Provident Capital Indemnity Ltd. was convicted for carrying out a half-billion dollar fraud scheme that affected more than 2,000 victims in the United States and abroad. 
    • On February 1, 2012, criminal charges were filed against two managing directors and a vice president at Credit Suisse Group for failing to assign a fair value to Credit Suisse’s RMBS and CMBS assets, contributing to a $2.6B write-down in March 2008 in Credit Suisse’s reported net income. 
    • On November 17, 2011, Philip Baker, co-founder and managing director of hedge fund Lake Shore Asset Management Ltd. was charged in the Northern District of Illinois for his involvement in a $294 million investment fraud scheme which involved approximately 900 investors worldwide.  He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Department has secured justice for victims of mortgage fraud. In fiscal years 2010 - 2012, the Justice Department charged nearly 3,000 defendants throughout the country with mortgage fraud-related crimes.

Examples include:

  • In March 2012, the Department played a major role in securing the largest joint federal-state settlement ever - $25 billion – against the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers for robo-signing and other mortgage servicing abuses through substantial financial penalties and extensive consumer relief.
  • In December 2011, the Department announced the largest-ever fair lending settlement - $335 million - with Countrywide Financial Corporation to resolve allegations that Countrywide and its subsidiaries engaged in a widespread pattern or practice of discrimination against more than 200,000 qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in mortgage lending from 2004 through 2008.
  • In July 2012, the Department filed the second-largest fair lending settlement in its history to resolve allegations that Wells Fargo Bank, the largest residential home mortgage originator in the United States, engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009.  The settlement provides at least $125 million in compensation for borrowers who were steered into subprime mortgages or who paid higher fees and rates than white borrowers because of their race or national origin. Wells Fargo will also provide $50 million in direct down payment assistance to borrowers in communities around the country where the Department identified large numbers of discrimination victims and which were hard hit by the housing crisis. 
  • On May 31, 2012, the Department announced a $21 million settlement with SunTrust Mortgage Inc., which, in the years leading to the financial crisis, violated fair lending laws by charging African-American and Hispanic borrowers higher interest rates and fees on home mortgage loans because of their race or national origin and not their creditworthiness. 

The Department has vigorously enforced the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). SCRA serves to postpone, suspend, terminate or reduce the amount of certain civil obligations so that members of the armed forces can focus their full attention on their military or professional responsibilities without adverse consequences for themselves or their families.  Since May 2011, the Department has reached eight settlements with mortgage servicers for foreclosing on servicemembers in violation of the SCRA, including settlements with the five largest mortgage servicers in conjunction with the National Mortgage Settlement. In most circumstances under these settlements, servicemembers who were foreclosed on in violation of the law will receive a minimum of $116,785 plus compensation for lost equity. 

The Department launched innovative programs to stop fraud in the residential mortgage-backed securities market. In 2012, the Attorney General launched the Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) Working Group to maximize the impact of parallel efforts between federal and state law enforcement agencies to focus on fraud in the packaging and sale of RMBS offerings. This working group collaborates on future and current investigations, pools resources and streamlines processes to ensure that when misconduct occurs, justice is sought for the victims. 

So far:

  • On October 2, 2012, RMBS Working Group members announced their first legal action when the New York Attorney General filed a Martin Act lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Securities LLC (formerly known as Bear Stearns & Co. Inc.), JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A. and EMC Mortgage LLC (formerly known as EMC Mortgage Corporation) for making fraudulent misrepresentations and omissions to promote the sale of RMBS to investors. According to the lawsuit, these defendants deceived investors as to the care with which they evaluated the quality of mortgage loans packaged into residential mortgage-backed securities prior to Bear Stearns & Co’s collapse in early 2008, incurring losses that have totaled approximately $22.5 billion to date.
  • There are now more than 200 lawyers, investigators, analysts and staff actively engaged in RMBS investigatory work from more than 10 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the New York State Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, FBI and Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General.

The Department has successfully prosecuted international cartels and domestic collusion conspiracies. The Department has prosecuted corporations and individuals engaged in price fixing, bid rigging, market and customer allocation and other fraud that hurts the American consumer.  Since January 2009, 271 criminal cases were filed, more than $2.6 billion in criminal fines have been obtained and defendants, including top executives, have served more than 98,000 days in prison. Charges were brought in a variety of important industries, including financial services, auto parts, liquid crystal display (LCD), air transportation, real estate, Internet services, environmental services and post-Hurricane Katrina remedial work. 

Results include:

  • After a successful conviction of Taiwan-based AU Optronics, its Houston-based subsidiary and former top executives for their involvement in a price-fixing conspiracy involving LCD panels, AU Optronics was sentenced to pay a $500 million fine, matching the largest fine ever imposed against a company for violating the U.S. antitrust laws.
  • An ongoing investigation into the municipal bond industry has resulted in charges against 20 former industry executives, and nearly $745 million in restitution, penalties and disgorgement to federal and state agencies was obtained through settlements with UBS, Wachovia Bank, JP Morgan Chase, GE Funding Capital and Bank of America. To date, 19 financial services executives and one corporation have been convicted, including three former UBS executives and three former executives of General Electric Co. affiliates who were convicted at trial for their roles in conspiracies involving investment contracts for the proceeds of municipal bonds.
  • The Department filed its first charges in an ongoing auto parts investigation against Furukawa Electric Co., Yazaki Corp., Fujikura Ltd., Denso Corp., Autoliv Inc., G.S. Electech Inc., TRW Deutschland Holding GmbH, Nippon Seiki Co. Ltd. and executives, which resulted in $790.6 million in criminal fines, including the second largest criminal fine ever (and more than was obtained in all of fiscal year 2011), and landmark prison sentences against the culpable executives.
  •  An investigation into collusion in the U.S. real estate market has resulted in charges against 49 individuals and two companies engaged in collusive schemes aimed at eliminating competition at real estate foreclosure auctions.

The Department has prevented anticompetitive mergers and preserved market competition. Since 2009, the Department has challenged 63 anticompetitive mergers including transactions in the technology and telecommunications industries, and challenged 21 civil non-merger matters focusing on contracting practices that reduced competition in industries such as health care, credit card network services, electricity, high-tech employment and agriculture. 

Notable merger cases and issues include:

  • A settlement with Verizon and four of the nation’s largest cable companies—Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks and Cox Communications—requiring changes to a series of agreements concerning both the sale of bundled wireless and wireline services, and the formation of a technology research joint venture.  The settlement removes provisions that would lessen the companies’ incentives to compete aggressively in the areas where Verizon’s FiOS services offer a critical competitive alternative to the cable companies’ video and broadband products and also limits the duration of the companies’ collaboration, ensuring that they retain incentives to compete against one another.
  • A lawsuit filed to block the H&R Block Inc./TaxACT deal, which marked the Antitrust Division’s first merger case that was litigated successfully since 2003. 
  • The Department filed a lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA Inc., in which the companies ultimately abandoned the proposed deal resulting in a victory for consumers. 
  • The Department remedied the competitive harm to consumers while allowing the companies to proceed with their transactions that did not threaten competition by requiring structural and/or behavioral conditions on transactions, such as Ticketmaster/LiveNation, Google/ITA and Comcast/NBCU.
  • The Department obtained full relief in the UTC/Goodrich merger, the largest aircraft industry merger ever, with close coordination with the European Commission.
  • In agriculture, the Department reached a settlement with George’s Inc. requiring the company to make important capital improvements at a Virginia poultry processing facility.

Notable civil, non-merger law enforcement actions taken by the Department to address consumer harm:

  • The Department reached a settlement with three book publishers–Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. and Simon & Schuster Inc.–and continuing litigation against Apple Inc. and two other publishers–Macmillan and Penguin Group (USA)–for conspiring to end e-book retailers’ freedom to compete on price, take control of pricing from e-book retailers and substantially increase the prices that consumers pay for e-books.
  • The Department reached a settlement with United Regional Health Care System, which was the first case brought by the Department since 1999 that challenges a monopolist with engaging in traditional anticompetitive unilateral conduct. 
  • The Department filed a lawsuit against Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan challenging its most favored nation clauses in its contracts with hospitals.
  • The Department filed a lawsuit against American Express, MasterCard and Visa, challenging their rules restricting price competition.  The Department reached a settlement with Visa and MasterCard--the case continues against American Express.

The Department has established the most effective strike force in history to protect Medicare money: In 2009, Attorney Eric Holder and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the creation of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) and renewed their commitment to fighting health care fraud as a Cabinet-level priority at both Departments.

  • Since announcing HEAT in May 2009, the Medicare Fraud Strike Forces have charged more than 800 defendants with seeking to defraud Medicare of more than $2.2 billion taxpayer dollars.

The Department has returned historic amounts of taxpayer dollars through the False Claims Act. Since 2009, the Department has recovered more than $13.3 billion in False Claims Act cases. $9.5 billion of those recoveries are from cases involving fraud against federal health care programs. Money recovered goes back to the federal agency that was defrauded, replenishing federal funds and sending a message to potential scammers that ultimately they will be required to pay up to three times the amount of their fraud.

Results of these efforts include:

  • In 2012, the Department brought an all-time high of 647 relator (whistleblower) cases under the False Claims Act.
  • Two of the Department's top five recoveries happened in the last year against companies that alleged to have promoted pharmaceuticals for treatment of certain illnesses that had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
    Notable actions:
    • $3 billion for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in July 2012
    • $2.3 billion for Pfizer in 2010
    • $1.5 billion for Abbott Laboratories in May 2012
    • $950 million for Merck Sharp & Dohme in 2011
    • $422 million for Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. in 2010

The Department has established the most effective strike force in history to protect Medicare money. In May 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the creation of the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) and renewed their commitment to fighting health care fraud as a Cabinet-level priority at both Departments. Since announcing HEAT, the Medicare Fraud Strike Forces have charged more than 800 defendants with seeking to defraud Medicare of more than $2.2 billion taxpayer dollars.

The Department has expanded efforts to combat corruption at home and abroad. Since 2009, the Department has increased enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and established the Kleptocracy Initiative, a groundbreaking asset forfeiture program to identify and forfeit the proceeds of foreign corruption.

Results of these efforts include:

  • Since 2009, the Department’s FCPA-related enforcement has secured more than $2 billion in fines and penalties and increased prosecutions of individuals who have bribed foreign officials.
  • The Kleptocracy Initiative has restrained more than $7 million and secured forfeiture of approximately $400,000 belonging to two former governors of different oil-producing states in Nigeria.
  •  The Department filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking approximately $70 million in real and personal property belonging to Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, a high-ranking government official in Equatorial Guinea and the son of that country’s president.

The Department has made historic progress in combating the diversion of controlled pharmaceuticals. Over the past four years, the Department has conducted significant enforcement operations nationwide in collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to target those involved in illicit diversion of pharmaceuticals. 

Significant accomplishments include:

  • In 2010, the Department reached a landmark settlement with CVS Caremark Corporation over policies and practices that allowed customers to purchase significant quantities of pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient for making methamphetamine in clandestine labs.  The $77.6 million civil penalty was the largest-ever levied against a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) registrant for non-compliance.
  • In February 2011, Operation Pill Nation I targeted rogue pain clinics in South Florida, an area that has emerged as the pill-mill capital of the U.S.
    The initiative resulted in:
    • 47 arrests, including 27 doctors
    • The issuance of 34 Immediate Suspension Orders against 63 DEA registrants
    • 92 DEA registrations being surrendered for cause
    • 40 clinics closed
    • The seizure of more than $18.9 million in assets
  • In October 2011, Operation Pill Nation II, resulted in:
    • The arrest of 57 individuals, including eight physicians and four pharmacists
    • The serving of four Immediate Suspension Orders
    • The surrender of six DEA registrations
    • The seizure of assets totaling approximately $311,995.00
  • In May 2012, the Department reached a settlement with Omnicare Inc., in which the company agreed to pay a $50 million penalty to resolve claims its pharmacies improperly dispensed controlled substances to patients at long-term care facilities around the country.
  • In June 2012, the DEA arrested seven doctors and seven of the largest pill clinic owners in Florida as part of a state-wide initiative against illicit diversion of pharmaceutical drugs.  Roughly 59 bank accounts were seized and 13 search warrants were executed.
  • As of October 2012, the DEA’s National Prescription Take-Back Initiative has resulted in the removal of more than 2 million pounds of prescription medications from circulation since the initiative began in 2010.

The Department has made historic efforts to investigate and prosecute offshore tax evasion. In 2009, the Department has spearheaded an historic effort to lift the veil on foreign bank secrecy by vigorously investigating and prosecuting U.S. taxpayers who illegally hide assets and income offshore, as well as the foreign banks, bankers and others who facilitate those crimes.

For example:

  • Through a deferred prosecution agreement and a civil summons settlement that the Tax Division negotiated in 2009 with Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS AG, the U.S. government obtained account information about thousands of the most significant tax cheats holding secret Swiss bank accounts as well as $780 million in taxes, interest, penalties and disgorgement of illegal profits from the bank.
  • Additional enforcement efforts have resulted in:
    • Criminal charges against 19 bankers, two attorneys, three investment advisors and more than 40 clients affiliated with UBS and other foreign financial institutions
    • Encouragement of approximately 30,000 taxpayers to enter voluntary disclosure programs offered by the IRS in 2009 and 2011, which resulted in the IRS collecting $2.7 billion in taxes, interest and penalties
    • The groundbreaking February 2012 indictment of Wegelin & Co., the oldest Swiss private bank and the first foreign bank to be charged with conspiring to assist U.S. clients with tax fraud

The Department has saved taxpayers dollars by being more cost efficient. The Attorney General’s Advisory Council for Savings and Efficiencies (SAVE Council) has realized more than $65.5 million in savings, and it expects to realize an additional $40 million by the end of fiscal year 2012 for a total estimated savings of $105.5 million.

The following are examples of SAVE Council actions:

  • Online travel booking
  • Discontinuation of unnecessary communication modes
  • Limiting publication costs by utilizing government websites to post notices
  • Suspending the purchase of trinkets, including “message-related” items and clothing
  • Consolidating sub-regional office locations
  • Reducing conference spending as of September 2011 by $27 million

The Department has found record efficiencies in its budget and operations. Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, the Department has identified more than $1.5 billion in savings, efficiencies and rescissions in its budget and operating plan.

For example:

  • After receiving the fiscal year 2011 and fiscal year 2012 appropriations, the Department identified $467 million and $422 million, respectively, in operating plan savings and efficiencies and non-grant program reductions.
  • In the fiscal year 2013 President’s Budget the Department identified $646 million in savings and efficiencies and program savings.

Last updated: October 2012

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Protecting Against Threats to the Most Vulnerable Populations

The Department has charged a record number of human trafficking cases. Over the past four years, the Department has increased the number of human trafficking prosecutions by more than 30 percent in forced labor and adult sex trafficking cases, while also increasing the number of convictions in Innocence Lost National Initiative cases by 30 percent. The Department announced the formation of the Anti-Trafficking Coordination Team (ACTeam) Initiative, an interagency collaboration among the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor, to streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses. Since initiating the ACTeam, we have launched six Phase I Pilot ACTeams around the country.

Significant accomplishments include:

  • The Department dismantled a large, transnational organized criminal enterprise that held Ukrainian victims in forced labor in Philadelphia.
  • The Department brought freedom and dignity to undocumented Central American women, convicting the traffickers who threatened and violently abused them to compel them into forced labor and forced prostitution in restaurants and bars on Long Island, N.Y..
  • The Department restored the rights and freedom of undocumented Eastern European victims, convicting the trafficker who brutally exploited them in massage parlors in Chicago, branding them with tattoos to claim them as his property.
  • The Department convicted a Florida man, his wife and a co-defendant for their actions involving the sex trafficking of seven minor victims out of a house near Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  • The Department secured a life sentence against a gang member in the Eastern District of Virginia for the sex trafficking of victims as young as 12 years old.

The Department launched several initiatives to build capacity and advance the development of an enhanced framework for regional police cooperation and information sharing that can be applied to bi-lateral and multi-lateral anti-trafficking operations and will serve as an example for other countries in the affected regions.

The Department has investigated and prosecuted hate crimes under the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. In Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012, the Department convicted the most defendants on hate crimes charges in more than a decade. Since its passage in 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act has provided the Department with important tools to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.  To date, the Department has trained thousands of federal and local law enforcement officials around the country to use the statute.

So far:

  • In the past four fiscal years (2009-2012), the Department has prosecuted 29 percent more hate crime cases than were prosecuted in the previous three fiscal years (2005-2008), and charged 78 percent more hate crime defendants.
  • The Department has brought 13 cases, charging 37 defendants.  Of those 37 defendants, 33 have been convicted.  The Department has prosecuted cases under the Shepard-Byrd Act in Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas and Washington. 
  • In addition to using the Shepard-Byrd Act, the Department also continues to employ 18 U.S.C. §§ 245 (federally protected activities), 247 (obstruction of persons in the free exercise of religious beliefs/ damage to religious real property), and 42 U.S.C. § 3631 (criminal interference with right to fair housing) to prosecute hate crimes.

The Department launched the Defending Childhood Initiative. In 2010, Attorney General Holder established the Defending Childhood Initiative to address and remedy the exposure of America's children to violence.

As part of that initiative:

  • Attorney General Holder launched the national Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence to raise awareness and to develop policies and practices to address the problem. Based on the testimony at four public hearings and three listening sessions, on comprehensive research, and on extensive input from experts, advocates, and impacted families and communities nationwide, the Defending Childhood Task Force will issue a final report to the Attorney General presenting its findings and comprehensive policy recommendations in late 2012. The report will serve as a blueprint for preventing and reducing the negative effects of violence across the United States.
  • In 2010, the Department awarded grants to eight sites in cities and tribal communities around the country to develop strategic plans for comprehensive community-based efforts that will further demonstrate the goals of the Defending Childhood Initiative. Each of these sites and communities received additional support in 2011 to help launch, sustain and expand programs and organizations focused on the development of community-based solutions to address the problem.
  • The Department has also provided funding for research, evaluation, public awareness and training for professional members and affiliates of national organizations through the Defending Childhood Initiative. For example, the American Psychological Association received Department funding to develop a national training program to increase the number of mental health professionals informed about and prepared to adopt family-oriented, culturally sensitive, evidence-based treatments for children who are victims of violence.

The Department has aggressively prosecuted child exploitation and pornography. Since 2009, the Department and its federal partners have conducted more than two dozen global operations targeting organized online groups and more than 5,000 U.S. offenders dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the use of online networking platforms to traffic in child pornography. These international online collectives were thriving marketplaces for the exchange of child pornography and presented a substantial risk to children because membership, communication and hierarchy in the groups incentivized the production of child pornography and encouraged the sexual abuse of children.  These operations resulted in safety for numerous child abuse victims who had been suffering at the hands of offenders and whose abuse only stopped upon the arrest and prosecution of their abusers. 

These efforts include:

  • In 2011, the Department, along with federal partners, conducted the largest U.S. prosecution of an international criminal network organized to sexually exploit children - charging 72 individuals for their participation in an international criminal network dedicated to the sexual abuse of children and the creation and dissemination of graphic images and videos of child sexual abuse throughout the world.
  • Additionally, since 2009, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces conducted nearly 165,000 (164,886 actual) investigations leading to the arrest of more than 20,000 (20,356 actual) individuals and the identification of more than 35,000 (35,841 actual) child victims.

The Department has made significant investments to keep young people and communities safe. The Department supports a wide variety of initiatives aimed at protecting our country's youngest citizens and their communities.

For example:

  • The Department has led the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, a White House initiative sponsoring federal-local partnerships in 10 U.S. cities to develop comprehensive strategies to reduce youth and gang violence.
    • The Forum models a new kind of federal-local collaboration, encouraging its members to change the way they do business by sharing common challenges, promising strategies and using data to drive decision-making.
    • Through the development of comprehensive networks and strategies that blend prevention, intervention, enforcement and reentry, localities will work across agencies toward a common goal:  preventing youth and gang violence.
    • In September 2012, Attorney General Holder and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Mary Lou Leary announced four cities would join the forum, bringing the total of participating cities from six to 10.  The new cities are New Orleans, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Camden, N.J.
  • In August 2011, Attorney General Holder and the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a new initiative called the Supportive School Discipline Initiative (SSDI) to address the problem of "zero tolerance" policies that impose harsh punishments like expulsion for relatively minor infractions.  Recent studies show children punished in this manner are more likely to repeat a grade, not graduate, or become involved in the juvenile justice system. The initiative is a collaboration between the two Departments, in coordination with the philanthropic, non-profit and advocacy community, to replace punitive school disciplinary policies and practices with positive ones so as to:
  • Keep students in school and engaged in learning
  • Ensure that school discipline practices are implemented in compliance with civil rights laws
  • Ensure access to high quality instruction for students who are disciplined

The Department has modernized the definition of rape in the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. In December 2011, the Department approved an updated definition of rape that will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. The revised definition is more inclusive of rape acts against men and women, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on many forms of sexual penetration understood to be "rape." This change will give law enforcement the ability to report more complete rape offense data, as the new definition reflects the vast majority of state rape statutes.

The Department has committed unprecedented resources toward reducing violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women. In June 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder launched a Department-wide initiative to enhance public safety in Indian County.  Significant progress has been made

since then, including:

  • Adding 28 new Assistant U.S. Attorneys dedicated to prosecuting crime in Indian Country in nearly two dozen districts.
  •  In addition, the FBI added nine positions, including six agents to work on Indian Country investigations.
  • In fiscal year 2010, the FBI’s Office for Victim Assistance (OVA) added 12 additional victim specialist positions to provide victim assistance in Indian Country. The victim specialists have an invaluable role in Indian Country investigations, particularly in cases of domestic violence and child abuse, providing essential services and support. 
  • The Department also launched the National Indian Country Training Initiative to ensure that Department prosecutors, as well as state and tribal criminal justice personnel, receive the training and support needed to address the particular challenges relevant to Indian Country prosecutions, including a 2012 training initiative on investigating and prosecuting sexual assault.

In July 2011, the Department proposed legislation that would significantly improve the safety of Native American women and allow Federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to hold more perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crimes. The types of domestic violence that elsewhere in the United States might lead to convictions and sentences – possibly intervening before someone is killed – may fall between the cracks in the legal system when the conduct arises in Indian country.  The proposed legislation would address three legal gaps by:

  • Recognizing certain Tribes' authority to exercise concurrent jurisdiction over crimes of domestic violence, regardless of whether the defendant is Indian or non-Indian;
  • Clarifying that tribal courts have full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders involving any persons, Indian or non-Indian; and
  • Providing more robust federal sentences for certain acts of domestic violence in Indian country.

The Department continues to vigorously enforce the right of equal access to the ballot box. Since 2009, the Department of Justice has closely monitored new state laws that would significantly change how elections are conducted.

For example:

  • In 2012, the Department obtained favorable judgments in four different cases under Section 5 of the voting rights act, which ensures equal access to the political process.  This includes decisions protecting the rights of minority voters affected by Texas statewide redistricting maps, the Texas and South Carolina voter ID laws and Florida’s early voting changes.
  • In fiscal year 2012, the Department received 6,731 submissions for review under Section 5, including 1,454 redistricting plans from jurisdictions covered by Section 5.  Overall, the Department anticipates that it will have reviewed more than 2,700 redistricting plans following the release of the 2010 Census data.

The Department has consistently defended the right for military personnel and their families as overseas civilians to vote. The Department protects the rights of our military, their families and overseas civilians to vote no matter where they are stationed in the world, through aggressive enforcement of Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) and the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act.

For example:

  • For the November 2, 2010, federal general election, the Department obtained court orders, court-approved consent decrees, or out-of-court agreements, in 14 jurisdictions (11 states, two territories and the District of Columbia).
  • In 2012, the Department has filed lawsuits against seven states and territories to enforce UOCAVA for the 2012 federal primary, special and general election cycle.

The Department launched the first-ever Access to Justice Initiative.  As this country approaches the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, which held that every criminal defendant, regardless of income, is entitled to be represented by counsel, millions of Americans still struggle to access the legal services that they need and deserve.Under the leadership of Attorney General Holder, the Department and the Obama Administration have taken unprecedented steps to ensure that our legal system is accessible, effective and a model of integrity.  The Access to Justice Initiative, launched just over two years ago, has been engaging with a wide variety of new partners including state, local, tribal and federal officials, nonprofit organizations, researchers and experts from across the private sector.

Access to Justice has worked to:

  • Expand research and funding support to improve the delivery of indigent defense services. In 2012, the Office of Justice Programs awarded nearly $3 million in grants to improve defender services for the poor.
  • Support tribal courts through the Tribal Court Trial Advocacy Training Program, a three-day trial advocacy course designed to improve the trial skills of judges, public defenders and prosecutors who appear in tribal courts. 
  • Help create and enhance state Access to Justice Commissions and encourage State Attorneys General to support Legal Services in high stakes civil proceedings resulting in well‐constructed foreclosure mediation programs for the nearly eight million American households at risk of losing their homes; training materials for civil legal aid providers to assist them in recognizing the signs of elder abuse and the appropriate legal remedies; and a commitment to ensuring that potential claimants for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund easily understand their rights and processes to secure needed assistance.
  • Pursue Cross-Cutting Initiatives that promote innovative justice solutions through multi-agency collaborations like the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  Access to Justice, with support from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, convened a summit to discuss constructive alternatives to the criminalization of homelessness, including alternative justice system strategies.

The Department has initiated a record number of inquiries into police departments throughout the country to ensure constitutional police practices. In 2011 and 2012, the Department has been monitoring compliance of, in litigation with, or investigating 26 state and local law enforcement agencies regarding civil patterns or practices in violation of the Constitution or federal law. This is the largest number of law enforcement agencies being reviewed at any one time in the history of the Department.

These efforts include:

  • In July 2012, recognizing systemic problems and allegations of unlawful police misconduct in the New Orleans Police Department, the Justice Department and the City of New Orleans signed a consent decree formalizing a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform of the police department. This happened after the conclusion of one of the most extensive reviews ever of a law enforcement agency by the Justice Department.
  • In July 2012, the Justice Department and the Seattle Police Department entered into agreements to address policies, supervision, training, accountability and community oversight after the Justice Department found reasonable cause to believe that police department engaged in a pattern or practice of excessive force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.
  • In October 2012, the Justice Department and Portland Police Bureau negotiated a settlement to make changes to the Portland Police Bureau policies, practices, training and supervision after the Justice Department found the police bureau had engaged in an unconstitutional pattern or practice of excessive force against people with mental illness.

The Department has protected tribal sovereignty, tribal lands and resources and tribal treaty rights. Over the past three years, the Department has continued to vigorously protect the rights and natural resources of federally recognized Indian tribes and their members and has defended against challenges to statutes and federal agency actions designed to protect tribal interests.

For example:

  • The Department litigated alongside the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and assisted them in securing the existence and boundaries of its reservation through a settlement between the Tribe, the United States, the state of Michigan and local governments.
  • In 2011, the Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and the Department of the Treasury settled a long-running lawsuit by the Osage Tribe against the United States alleging that the U.S. government had not properly managed the Tribe’s monetary and natural resources held in trust.
  • The Department recently concluded settlements that would resolve trust liabilities with more than 40 additional tribes, with a total value of more than $1 billion. Meanwhile the Department is actively exploring opportunities for resolution of other tribal trust cases in an expedited, fair and just manner.

Last updated: October 2012

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Requiring Transparency and Accessibility

The Department has demonstrated its historic commitments to transparency. Upon taking office, President Obama issued a memorandum on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which directed agencies to administer the Act "with a clear presumption:  In the face of doubt, openness prevails."  On October 19, 2009, Attorney General Holder issued new FOIA guidelines that embrace the call for greater transparency and "a new era of open Government." Under these guidelines, the Department has made significant strides in improving access and transparency.

For example:

  • Since 2009, the Department has released records in full or in part in more than 94 percent of the cases where records were processed for disclosure, and when records were released, they were released in full, with no information withheld, for more than 70 percent of such requests. 
  • The Department also made more discretionary releases of information than the previous administration and has exponentially increased the amount of information made available to the public through proactive disclosures on its websites. 
  • Despite three straight years of receiving more than 61,000 FOIA requests, the fourth highest number of requests received by any agency, as well as receiving the most number of administrative appeals across the government, the Department has reduced the size of its FOIA backlogs under Attorney General Holder’s leadership.   
  • The Department has launched an online portal so that the public, through a personal online account, can make requests to the Department’s senior leadership offices, file administrative appeals online and receive any responsive documents online.
  • The Department also launched which, among other things, allows the public to compare, sort through and view graphically the detailed statistics provided in agencies' Annual FOIA Reports.  Over the past three years, the Department has enhanced by adding a new search tool that allows the public to easily search across all agency websites to locate material.  The Department also added the capability to make online requests directly from and now provides information about the FOIA in Spanish.
  • Since the issuance of Attorney General Holder's new FOIA guidelines, the Department's Office of Information Policy, which is responsible for encouraging agency compliance with the FOIA, has issued government-wide guidance on a range of issues implementing practices that provide for greater transparency and a more effective FOIA administration across the government. 

Last updated: October 2012

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Protecting The Environment

The Department has renewed its commitment to Environmental Justice. Over the past four years, the Department renewed its commitment to Environmental Justice, which is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies. This was done in many ways, including by working closely with other federal agencies to coordinate Environmental Justice efforts, by engaging communities to an unprecedented degree, and by achieving meaningful results for vulnerable communities in its cases.

For example:

  • Under a Clean Water Act settlement with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, some of the first pollution control measures implemented will benefit underserved communities and additional $42 million will be spent on green infrastructure projects that will help address sewage overflows where many minority and low-income residents live.
  • Under a Clean Water Act settlement with the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District, $4.7 billion will be spent more than 23 years to make extensive improvements to sewer systems and treatment plants, to eliminate illegal overflows of untreated raw sewage, including basement backups and to reduce pollution levels in urban rivers and streams.

The Department continues to protect the nation's water, air and land from harmful pollution. The Department conducts vigorous civil enforcement under the Clean Water Act to protect human health by protecting the nation's water, air and land from harmful pollution.

For example:

  • The Department protects the nation's waterways against sewer overflows, which can expose communities to untreated human and industrial waste that threaten human health and destroy aquatic life. 
    • Courts across the country have entered more than 40 settlements in these cases since January 2009, requiring improvements to municipal wastewater treatment and collection systems valued at more than $20 billion. 
    • For example, United States v. Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District resolved Clean Water Act violations at one of the Nation’s largest sewer systems.
  • The Department has sought to protect Americans from asthma and the other serious adverse health effects of unlawful emissions of harmful pollutants from coal fired power plants and oil refineries.
    • Since 2009 the six Clean Air Act settlements with operators of power plants will reduce harmful emissions by more than 290,000 tons per year. The 22 settlements achieved in the power plants initiative to date will reduce those emissions by more than 2.1 million tons each year.
    • The refinery initiative has produced settlements or other court orders that have addressed more than 90 percent of the nation's refining capacity, and will reduce air pollutants by a total of more than 360,000 tons a year.
    • In February 2012, the Division concluded two days of oral arguments before the District of Columbia Circuit defending the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. In one of the most significant environmental regulatory decisions of the past decade, the D.C. Circuit upheld EPA's first-ever rules regulating greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.
  • In the past  four years, under the Nation’s Superfund law, which allows the EPA and responsible parties to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites or reimburse the government for EPA-lead cleanups, the Department:
    • Secured the commitment of responsible parties under Superfund to clean up hazardous waste sites at costs estimated in excess of $1.9 billion
    • Recovered more than $1.2 billion for the Superfund to finance future cleanups and almost $273 million in natural resource damages

Last updated: October 2012

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