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Home > Divisions > Criminal

CRIMINAL DIVISION

The Criminal Division is organized into ten sections and units: Appellate, Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP), Forfeiture, Major Crimes, Misdemeanors,  Organized Crime Strike Force, Securities Fraud, White Collar Crime, and Anti-Terrorism Task Force.  Except  for the CHIP unit, which is based in San Jose, all units are based in San Francisco.  The Oakland Branch Office prosecutes general crimes, narcotics, and white collar cases.  The San Jose Branch Office, in addition to CHIP cases, also prosecutes general crimes, narcotics, and white collar cases.

Appellate Section

The Appellate Section reviews all criminal appellate filings, supervises moot courts, provides legal advice to other AUSAs, acts as liaison on appellate matters with the Criminal Division and the Solicitor General in Washington, and writes briefs and argues cases in the court of appeals.

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Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit

The Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit oversees investigations of and prosecutes computer intrusions and intellectual property offenses affecting the high technology industry in the Northern District of California. The unit concentrates on offenses involving computer intrusions, theft of trade secrets, economic espionage and criminal copyright and trademark violations.  CHIP also prosecutes property crimes, such as cargo thefts and remarking of chips.  The unit is based in San Jose, near the heart of Silicon Valley.

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Forfeiture

The Forfeiture Section operates within the Criminal Division and is responsible for the prosecution of criminal and civil forfeiture cases.  In addition to litigating civil forfeiture cases, the Section provides support to Criminal Division AUSAs on all criminal forfeiture issues.  The forfeiture AUSAs work with most of the federal law enforcement agencies, assisting their criminal investigations by identifying assets subject to forfeiture and developing evidence for seizure and forfeiture.

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Major Crimes

The Major Crimes Section handles a variety of matters, including firearms, theft, immigration offenses, passport fraud, postal crimes, flight to avoid prosecution, FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, Child Support Recovery Act cases, social security fraud, and violent crime, such as bank robbery, assault, arson and extortion.  The section is responsible for the district's firearms violence reduction initiatives, Triggerlock II and "Total Mission."  These initiatives are aimed at reducing gun violence throughout the district through the cooperative efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and community groups. The section is also responsible for prosecuting crimes committed under exclusive federal jurisdiction and prosecuted under the assimilated crimes provisions.  Further, the section prosecutes child exploitation cases, including traveling for the purpose of having sexual relations with children, and also child pornograph.

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Misdemeanors

The Misdemeanor Section is headed by the Chief Law Clerk, with supervision from the Deputy Chief of the General Crimes Section.  The Misdemeanor Section is staffed by law students who work at the U.S. Attorney's Office for one or more semesters.  The staff in this section appears before the United States Magistrate Judges and handles the prosecution of all misdemeanor and petty offense crimes committed on exclusive federal jurisdiction in the Northern District of California.  This includes offenses committed on the Presidio Trust, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, various military installations and on any property in the district under the exclusive jurisdiction of the National Park Service, the General Services Administration and the Veterans Administration.  The section also handles the prosecution of selected misdemeanor offenses, such as certain bank embezzlements, false passport applications, assaults, thefts and postal offenses.

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Organized Crime Strike Force

The San Francisco Organized Crime Strike Force´s principal enforcement efforts in the Northern District of California are directed against Asian and Russian organized crime, and "emerging groups," such as the Aryan Brotherhood, the Nuestra Familia and outlaw motorcycle gangs. The list of targeted organizations reflects the expansion of the Department of Justice's organized crime program to include "non-traditional" groups, as opposed to traditional groups such as La Cosa Nostra.

Strike Force investigations typically involve a broad spectrum of criminal statutes, including the RICO statutes, extortion, bribery, fraud, narcotics and labor racketeering.  Investigations are coordinated with federal agencies, such as the FBI, United States Customs and INS, as well as with state and local agencies, such as the Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, California Department of Justice and local police departments.

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Securities Fraud Section

The section targets all forms of securities fraud, which have increased in light of the boomtown atmosphere in and around Silicon Valley.   The principal types of cases handled by the section include (a) financial accounting fraud by company management, including creation of phony revenues and concealment of liabilities designed to boost or maintain the company's stock price;  (b) insider trading at high-tech companies, mainly by employees trying to cash in on Wall Street's predictable and volatile reactions to even slightly good or bad news from the technology sector; and (c) stock manipulation, usually involving the stocks of purported Internet companies that often exist only on paper, manipulations that are commonly carried out via the Internet through a combination of "press releases" and chat room messages.

Reports of possible securities fraud in the Northern District of California can be made directly to the FBI at http://sanfrancisco.fbi.gov or by calling 1-800-207-7676.

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White Collar Crime

The White Collar Crime Section is responsible for prosecuting a wide range of complex cases, including public corruption (such as bribery, kickback schemes, and theft of government funds) health care fraud, financial institutions fraud, bankruptcy fraud and mail and wire fraud.  Civil rights cases are also monitored, evaluated and prosecuted by the section.  Environmental cases are prosecuted under the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other federal environmental statutes.  The section also prosecutes cases involving the protection of wildlife and Food and Drug Administration cases concerning the safety of the nation's food supply. 

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ATTF 

Anti-Terrorism Task Force

The anti-terroism effort is the overriding priority for the Northern District of California.  The purpose of the ATTF is three-fold.  First, the ATTF is a conduit for information sharing about suspected terrorists between federal, state, and local law enforcement entities.  Federal membership in the ATTF includes law enforcement agencies:  the FBI, DEA, Postal Service and Postal Inspection Service, INS, Customs, IRS, and U.S. Marshals.  State membership includes the California Department of Justice through the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center (CATIC), the California Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement, and local district attorneys offices.  Primary police and sheriff departments represent local law enforcement.

The second purpose of ATTF is to implement the national anti-terrorist operational plan in the Northern District of California.  The national operational plan has been defined in part as "preventing terrorism by arresting and detaining violators who have been identified as persons who participate in, or lend support to, terrorist activities."  The national operational plan requires an assessment of terrorist threat within the Distirict to define the direction and scope of its mission.  The assessment includes indentifying individuals and groups who 1) have ever been arrested and/or charged with a crime amounting to terrorism or the support of terrorism; 2) are known to raise funds for, or otherwise provide support to, terrorist elements; 3) have ever advocated the use of terrorism; or 4) whose conduct otherwise reasonably indicates that they are engaged in or contemplating the use of terrorism.

Thirdly, the ATTF wil lead a coordinated response to a terrorist incident occurring within the District.

Within the office, the ATTF includes 5 attorneys, 1 intelligence resource analyst, and support staff.  The ATTF coordinates the sharing of information and strategy with the National Anti-Terrorism Coordinator in the Terrorism &Violent Crime Section, Criminal Division, of the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.