The Criminal Division is charged with the responsibility of enforcing federal criminal laws in the Southern District of Iowa. The Criminal Division has a total of 24 prosecutors posted across the District–including in the Des Moines headquarters office and in the District’s two branch offices in Council Bluffs and Davenport. These prosecutors work closely with paralegals, legal assistants, victim witness specialists, and others to fulfill these responsibilities, along with a wide variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and federal grand juries empaneled to investigate violations of federal law.
Terrorism and National Security
The fight against terrorism is the highest priority of the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office is dedicated to combating and defeating terrorism. We work with our partners in law enforcement, the intelligence community, the military, and diplomatic circles to investigate, prosecute, disrupt and prevent terrorism. Criminal Division attorneys work with the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council and an intelligence specialist in pursuing this important mission.
Fraud and CorruptionCriminal Division attorneys investigate and prosecute complex fraud, public corruption, and financial crimes that the federal government is uniquely qualified to handle.
- Criminal Division attorneys participate in a Working Group, along with the office of Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, to pursue mortgage fraud cases, along with investigating agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development–Office of Inspector General, and the FDIC-Office of Inspector General.
- Criminal Division attorneys play a leading role in the Iowa Health Care Fraud Task Force, which identifies cases involving medicaid fraud, insurance fraud, and other types of health care fraud for investigation and prosecution. Federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Health and Human Services–Office of Inspector General, as well as the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and state agencies also participate in these efforts.
- Criminal Division attorneys pursue other types of fraud and public corruption cases with these same agencies, as well as with the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation, and the United States Social Security Administration–Office of Inspector General, among other agencies.
Narcotics Trafficking and Violent CrimeWorking with both the United States Drug Enforcement Administration and a wide variety of state and local drug enforcement task forces, Criminal Division attorneys investigate and prosecute federal criminal offenses involving the unlawful importation, possession, distribution, and manufacture of controlled substances, including methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, ecstacy, and marijuana, as well as prescription drug abuse. Criminal Division attorneys also handle cases involving violent crime, such as armed bank robberies, unlawful possession of firearms (as part of the Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program), arson, and violent crime associated with narcotics trafficking.
Computer Crimes, Child Exploitation, and Human TraffickingCriminal Division attorneys, working with the Iowa Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) and other agencies, prosecute a broad range of computer-related crimes, with special emphasis on crimes that involve the sexual exploitation of children and Internet child pornography, including as part of the Department’s Project Safe Childhood Program. Criminal Division Attorneys, along with victim-witness specialists and others, also work to investigate and prosecute interstate prostitution, human trafficking, the enticement of children across state lines for immoral purposes, and unregistered sex offenders who travel across state lines in violation of the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Environmental and Wildlife CrimesCriminal Division attorneys, working with both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, investigate and prosecute criminal violations of federal environmental laws, including violations relating to the improper disposal and storage of hazardous materials and violations of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act. Criminal Division attorneys also work with the United States Fish & Wildlife Service in pursing cases involving interstate trafficking in unlawfully taken wildlife and similar crimes.
Immigration Crimes and Program FraudCriminal Division attorneys handle a variety of offenses involving the integrity of government programs, such as those administered by the Social Security Administration, the Small Business Administration, the Veteran’s Administration, and the Railroad Retirement Board. Criminal Division attorneys also work closely with the Department of Homeland Security and its agencies to prosecute violations of the immigration laws, such as visa fraud, alien smuggling, and unlawful reentry to the United States following deportation.
Civil RightsCriminal Division attorneys, together with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, assess complaints alleging violations of the criminal civil rights laws and, in appropriate cases, conduct grand jury investigations and initiate criminal prosecutions for civil rights violations.
Appellate UnitThe Criminal Division’s Appellate Unit handles the office’s criminal appeals before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, which is the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over cases arising from Iowa and several neighboring states. Additionally, the Appellate Unit, in consultation with the Department of Justice, decides when to seek appellate review of trial level rulings adverse to the United States, and coordinates with the Department of Justice if further review of cases arising from the Southern District of Iowa is sought before the United States Supreme Court.
Asset Recovery Team–Forfeiture and CollectionsThe Criminal Division’s Asset Recovery Team supports the prosecution of criminal and civil forfeiture cases and enforces and collects criminal and civil debts, including restitution for victims in criminal cases. In addition to litigating civil forfeiture cases, this team of specialists provides support to Criminal Division attorneys on all criminal forfeiture issues. Forfeiture attorneys and paralegals work with federal law enforcement agencies, assisting their criminal investigations by identifying assets subject to forfeiture and developing evidence for seizure and forfeiture. The team also collects criminal debts, such as fines and restitution orders, and civil debt to federal agencies, such as student loans and federally-guaranteed mortgages, and works with Criminal Division attorneys to identify assets that can be used for restitution to crime victims.
The Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office represents the United States and its departments and agencies at both the trial and appellate levels in civil actions filed in the state and federal courts in the Southern District of Iowa. The activities of the Civil Division include defensive civil litigation, affirmative civil enforcement actions and miscellaneous matters.
The types of defensive cases handled by the Civil Division include tort cases filed against the United States under the Federal Tort Claims Act; claims against individual employees of the United States alleging constitutional violations (also known as Bivens Actions); discrimination cases brought by federal employees based upon race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability or age; review of administrative action under the Administrative Procedures Act; and appeals of denial of Social Security disability claims.
Affirmative LitigationThe Civil Division brings civil affirmative actions under the False Claims Act to pursue false claims or fraud against the government, Americans with Disabilities Act and the Fair Housing Act and other statutes designed to enforce civil rights, as well as environmental statutes and other health and safety laws.
Miscellaneous MattersCertain miscellaneous matters are also handled by the Civil Division, including summons enforcement action on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service, subpoenas to federal officials, commercial litigation to collect debts owed the United States and protect the government’s interests in bankruptcy and foreclosure actions.