U.S. Attorney’s Office For the Southern District Of Florida Increasing Training And Expanding To Combat Fraud
The U.S. Department of Justice has granted the request of the US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Wifredo Ferrer, for additional resources and manpower as the US Attorneys office struggles with its efforts to combat rampant fraud in South Florida.
As South Florida has experienced increased amounts of health-care, mortgage and financial fraud, the U.S. Attorneys Office has found it increasingly difficult to prosecute offenders due to the strain on the offices staff of 280 attorneys and their resources. As a result of the large caseload and limited resources, the offices efforts at prosecuting fraud have been stifled. U.S. Attorney Ferrer hopes this will change based upon the news he received last month from the Department of Justice that his request to hire four new prosecutors was granted.
The new prosecutors and their support staff will focus on the voluminous amounts of Medicare fraud that occur in South Florida. South Florida currently has the reputation as being ground zero for the $60 billion a year that is bilked from Medicare as a result of fraud. The four new prosecutors follow Ferrers recent hire of 10 “top-flight” attorneys since June in the offices major crime division and the hiring of four prosecutors by the previous U.S. Attorney Jeff Sloman.
Ferrer also announced that the U.S. Attorneys office is focused on increasing training for all of the districts Assistant U.S. Attorneys. Recently, Ferrer appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Dawn Bowen as the districts first training director. The new training will emphasize the importance of effective advocacy during the sentencing phase of criminal trials. As a result of the U.S. Supreme Courts landmark decision in United States v. Booker, 543 US 220 (2005), which declared that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines were advisory rather than mandatory, the role of the prosecutor at the sentencing phase has changed. Federal prosecutors must now advocate what the right sentence for a particular crime is and why. In May, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo explaining the governments new policy that proposed sentences be weighed on a case-by-case basis.
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