For Immediate Release
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Hosts the 65th Annual Attorney General Awards Honoring Department Employees and Others for Their Service
Five Individuals Honored in the Middle District of Florida
WASHINGTON – Attorney General Jeff Sessions recognized 202 department employees for their distinguished public service today at the 65nd Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony. Nineteen other individuals outside of the department were also honored for their work. This annual ceremony recognizes individuals for their outstanding service and dedication to carrying out the missions of the Department of Justice. The department will also present one posthumous award to Deputy Commander Patrick T. Carothers for exceptional heroism in the line of duty during a fugitive apprehension in Allenhurst, Georgia on November 18, 2016, in which Deputy Commander Carothers was mortally wounded.
“Every single day, the 115,000 men and women of the Department of Justice work to protect our national security against terrorist threats, defend the civil rights of all Americans, reduce violent crime in our communities, stop deadly drug dealers and their organizations, and strengthen the rule of law,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This work benefits every American, and each Department of Justice employee plays a role that helps us accomplish our objectives. Today, we take a moment to recognize those who have distinguished themselves by exemplary service to the Department. Each one of these men and women—through their dedication and commitment—has made a difference. Meeting with them and their families today, I am more confident than ever that the Department—and the safety of the American people—are in good hands.”
“Today’s recognition of members of our office, DOJ’s Organized Crime and Gang Section, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is well-deserved,” said U.S. Attorney Muldrow. “As a result of their combined, tireless efforts over two years, a violent criminal gang was brought to justice. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners and the community to reduce crime throughout our district.”
This year’s program honors individuals across the department and our federal, state, local, and tribal partners for their selfless efforts, protecting our national security and our civil rights, addressing rising violent crime in our communities, and going after gangs and those trafficking in dangerous narcotics and human beings.
From the Middle District of Florida, Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher Murray, Natalie Hirt Adams, and Administrative Specialist Abbey Hicks, Special Agents Yannick J. Deslauriers and Melinda G. Sears from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, along with Trial Attorney Marty Ann Woelfle from the Organized Crime and Gang Section, were recognized for their outstanding achievements in the case of United States v. Nathaniel Harris, et al.
Between April 2014 and September 2016, this team successfully investigated and prosecuted six leaders of the most violent gang in Manatee County. For nearly a decade, the Harris defendants operated an extremely violent racketeering enterprise. The gang’s violence culminated on August 1, 2013, when two defendants stormed a youth football practice and gunned down Coach Brenton Coleman, killing him in front of 300 children and their parents. The recipients prosecuted the six defendants in a 28-count racketeering indictment involving charges for seven murders, one attempted murder, and two armed kidnappings, among many other crimes. Additionally, the team worked feverishly to prepare over 150 witnesses and over 1,800 exhibits for trial. Through the course of a grueling three-month trial that began on June 6, 2016, the recipients excelled in the complex task of persuasively presenting the testimony of cooperating defendants and other witnesses, coupled with physical, forensic, and electronic evidence. The team’s work resulted in the conviction of all six defendants and sentences ranging from 120 years to multiple life sentences. The Harris case was one of the most complex and successful violent crime prosecutions in the history of the Middle District of Florida. Furthermore, the professionalism, dedication, and devotion to duty of the recipients are in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Department of Justice.