US Attorney’s Office to Open Staffed Branch in Tri-Cities, Washington | USAO-EDWA

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Richland, Wash. – Vanessa R. Waldref, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, today announced the opening of a fully staffed branch of the United States Attorney’s Office in Richland, Washington. At a press conference earlier today, US Attorney Waldref said, “The number of cases prosecuted by the Richland division of my office has increased dramatically over the past two decades. As the caseload continued to grow, it became clear that we needed dedicated U.S. associate attorneys, who live and work in the Tri-Cities area, to support our federal, state, and local partners and ensure that defendants who commit federal crimes are prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.

After learning that the U.S. Attorney’s Office was opening an office in Richland, Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edward F. Shea said, “I’m thrilled to celebrate the expansion of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. in Richmond. This expansion will bolster ongoing federal-local law enforcement efforts in Southeast Washington for the benefit of all who live here.

The Richland Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is located in the Richland Courthouse and Federal Building, located at 825 Jadwin Avenue in Richland, Washington. Since 2019, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted an average of about 70 cases each year in the Richland Division. As the U.S. Attorney’s Office continued to prosecute a large number of cases in Richland, federal prosecutors assigned to those cases traveled from Spokane and Yakima to appear for hearings at the Richland Federal Courthouse.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington represents the United States in federal litigation, both criminal and civil, in the twenty counties of Washington east of the Cascade Mountains ridge. The Eastern District is home to approximately 1.5 million people, of which approximately 400,000 live in the Tri-Cities metropolitan area. The United States Attorney’s Office is responsible for enforcing federal criminal, civil, administrative, and tax laws. The Bureau works closely with federal, state, and local partners with one primary goal: to ensure that justice is served in each individual case. Richland’s office, when full, is expected to have two full-time assistant U.S. attorneys and a legal assistant.

“Many of the most significant federal cases and crimes we prosecute involve behavior in the Tri-Cities area,” U.S. Attorney Waldref said. She continued, “When I became a United States Attorney just over a year ago, one of my top priorities was to build on the work the Justice Department has done in the Tri- Cities. Today’s announcement is an achievement of our goal to ensure that the United States Attorney’s Office has a permanent and staffed presence serving Benton, Franklin and Walla Walla counties. We are fortunate to already have United States Special Assistant Counsel, Laurel J. Holland, who has prosecuted state and federal cases in the Tri-Cities area since 2009. In the coming months, we anticipate that two additional AUSAs and will join SAUSA Holland in our Richland office to pursue justice on behalf of the Tri-Cities area and all of Eastern Washington.

Here are some of the significant recent federal cases being prosecuted outside the Tri-Cities area:

• Ayoola Taiwo Adeoti, 4:22-CR-06005-SAB, indictment for business email compromise, money laundering and bank fraud conspiracy involving fraud of approximately three-quarters of a million dollars on the part of Benton County Government;

• HPM Corporation; 4:22-MJ-07038-JPH, Global Criminal and Civil Fraud Settlement March 2022 Recovering $3M from Hanford Site Primer for Fraudulent COVID-19 Relief Claims Under the Paycheck Protection Program;

• Ali Abed Yaser, et al., 4:21-CR-6042-SMJ, twenty-three people indicted in January 2022, for an alleged staged car accident;

• Cody Easterday, 4:21-cr-06012-SAB, sentenced to 11 years and $244 million in restitution in October 2022 for a massive fraud scheme involving fictional cattle;

• United States ex rel. Avila v. Sunrhys, LLC, 4:21-cv-05013-TOR, Civil Lawsuit Involving Civil Rights Violations and Housing Fraud, Resulting in July 2022 Recovery of Significant Civil Penalties and Other Remedies for a Walla Walla landlord who overcharged tenants and fraudulently obtained federal grants intended to help homeless veterans;

• United States ex rel. Yam c. Providence Health and Services; 4:20-CV-05004-SMJ, civil fraud lawsuit and April 2022 recovery of over $22.7 million for fraudulently billing medically unnecessary neurosurgery procedures to Medicare and Medicaid at Providence St. Mary’s Medical Center in Walla Walla;

• Trent Drexel Howard, 4:19-CR-06036-SMJ, sentenced to 23 years in federal prison in January 2022 for child pornography offenses after being extradited from Kazakhstan;

• Julio Leal Parra and. al., 4:19-CR-06061-SAB, sentenced to 16 years for a major drug trafficking conspiracy involving links to the Sinaloa Cartel – Parra was one of five defendants charged in the case;

• Dr. Janet Sue Arnold, 4:18-CR-6044-EFS-1, sentenced to four years in federal prison in April 2022, for conspiring to distribute medically unnecessary fentanyl patches, opioid pills and other substances controlled outside of his medical practice;

• Dale Gordon Black, 4:18-CR-6029-EFS, sentenced to 30 years in prison in July 2019, for producing child pornography;

• Hector Medina, 4:18-cr-06024-SMJ, sentenced to 15 years for death by overdose and drug trafficking conspiracy;

• Reynaldo Perez Munoz, 4:18-CR-6008-EFS, sentenced to 26 years of transnational conspiracy to distribute fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and launder money from the illegal distribution of drugs;

• Josue Medina-Perez and Francisco Delgado, 19-CR-06018-EFS, ten-accused transnational drug conspiracy, which was one of the first fentanyl conspiracies involving the prosecution of an Arizona-based supply source;

• Sami Anwar, 4:18-cr-5064-EFS, sentenced to over 28 years in October 2020, after a three-week trial for falsifying human clinical research data;

• Rosalio Emmanuel Sanchez, 4:17-CR-06014-WFN-6, sentenced to 22 years in prison in May 2019, for distributing illegal narcotics in the Tri-Cities area after a five-day jury trial in Richland;

• Bechtel Corporation et al., 4:17-CV-5074-SMJ, civil lawsuit for fraud and recovery in September 2020 of $57.75 million from the Hanford site prime contractor for fraudulent overbilling on the construction project. radioactive waste treatment plant;

• Miles Barton Nichols, 4:16-CR-6033-EFS-1, sentenced to life in prison in 2018 after being convicted in two separate jury trials of drug trafficking and firearms offenses.

• United States ex rel. Savage v. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company; United States ex rel. Savage v. Washington Closure Hanford, et al; 4:14-CV-5002-SMJ and 4:10-CV-5051-SMJ; recoveries of approximately $10 million between 2017 and 2021 from Hanford site contractors for the use of fraudulent small business front companies on Hanford site subcontracts.

• Bechtel National Inc., 13-CV-5013-EFS, civil lawsuit for fraud and recovery of $125 million in November 2016 from Hanford site contractor for use of substandard materials, breaches of insurance quality and inappropriate use of federal funds for lobbying activities.

• CH2M Hill Hanford Group, 09-CV-5038-EFS, civil and criminal lawsuit for time billing fraud at the Hanford site, resulting in twelve criminal convictions and the recovery of over $18.5 million in damages and fines between 2012 and 2015.

Currently, the Tri-Cities area is served by several federal judges: U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Salvador Mendoza, Jr.; Senior United States District Court Judge Edward F. Shea, United States District Court Judge Mary K. Dimke, and United States Trial Judge Alexander C. Ekstrom. Along the same lines, many federal law enforcement agencies – including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Customs and Border Patrol, Drug Enforcement Administration; FBI; homeland security investigations; Department of Energy Inspector General’s Office; and the U.S. Marshal’s Service to name a few – have offices, agents and task force officers in the Tri-Cities area.

Regarding the federal presence in the region, U.S. Attorney Waldref added, “We will continue to support our federal, state, and local partners who have a long-established presence in Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla counties. We have worked closely with our law enforcement partners in Southeast Washington for years and are excited to build even stronger relationships to make our growing communities in this region safer and more strong.

United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref serves as law enforcement officer for the Eastern District of Washington. She leads an office of 29 Assistant United States Attorneys: 23 in Spokane and 6 in Yakima. In the near future, this number is expected to increase by at least 2 in Richland’s new staffed office.

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