Prosecutions for October 2012

Referring Agency: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Number Latest Month 1,235
Percent Change from previous month 12.2
Percent Change from 1 year ago -5.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 5.2
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 3.7
Table 1: Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2012 the government reported 1235 new prosecutions for these matters. Those cases were referred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 12.2% over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See Table 1)

When monthly 2012 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was down (-5.6 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 5.2 percent from levels reported in 2007.

The leveling out in these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall increase in prosecutions is 3.7 percent instead of 5.2 percent. The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases by the Justice Department.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in prosecutions

The leveling out from the levels five years ago in prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.

Cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in October 2012 was for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen", accounting for 20.6 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (12.3%), " Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (9.9%), "Project Safe Childhood" (7.2%), "Bank Robbery" (6.2%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (5.4%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (4.1%), "Fraud-Financial Institution" (3.7%), "Violence-Other" (3.6%), " Fraud-Mortgage" (3.5%), "Fraud-Other" (2.9%), "Fraud-Health Care" (2.7%), "Violence-Indian Country" (2.5%), "Organized Crime-Emerging Organization" (2.3%). See Figure 2.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2: Specific types of prosecutions

Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In October 2012, 224 defendants in cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

In the magistrate courts in October the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 involving the "Attempt and conspiracy". This was the lead charge for 14.3 percent of all magistrate filings in October.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes" (10.7%), "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (7.6%), "18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts" (6.7%), " 18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act" (6.3%), "18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors" (5.8%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In October 2012, 1011 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October there were an additional 117 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during October.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of matters filed in U.S. District Court during October 2012referred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 142 1 1 3 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 102 2 2 2 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 68 3 3 1 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 49 4 5 8 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 43 5 7 7 More
18 USC 1349 - Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy 43 5 4 16 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 43 5 6 4 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 37 8 9 9 More
18 USC 1341 - Mail Fraud - Frauds and swindles 27 9 8 6 More
18 USC 1344 - Bank Fraud 25 10 9 5 More
18 USC 1961 - RICO - definitions 25 10 54 43 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 841) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846. "Attempt and conspiracy" under Title 21 U.S.C Section 846 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Bank robbery and incidental crimes" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113. "Bank robbery and incidental crimes" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions—up 381.8 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1961 that involves " RICO - definitions ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—273.6 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1349 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 31.3 percent—was Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1349 ). Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 34 percent—was for filings where the lead charge was " Bank robbery and incidental crimes " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 2113 ).

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2012 the Justice Department said the government brought 440.9 prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

Understandably, there is great variation in the per capita number of prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.

The districts registering the largest number of prosecutions per capita for these matters last month are shown in Table 3. Districts must have at least 5 prosecutions to receive a ranking.


Judicial District Percapita Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
N Dakota 2,968 16 1 78 62 More
D. C. 2,401 12 2 18 73 More
S Dakota 2,216 15 3 40 21 More
Montana 1,477 12 4 33 16 More
N Car, W 1,223 30 5 57 18 More
Fla, S 1,205 67 6 3 1 More
Okla, W 1,171 19 7 59 50 More
Ohio, N 1,010 49 8 9 5 More
Ken, E 941 17 9 38 23 More
Tenn, M 915 17 10 39 65 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of North Dakota—with 2968 prosecutions as compared with 440.9 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States—was the most active during October 2012.

  • The District of Washington, D.C. (Washington) ranked 2nd.

  • District of South Dakota is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Washington, D.C. (Washington), now ranked 2nd , and Montana at 4th In the same order, these districts ranked 18th and 33rd one year ago and 73rd and 16th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago— 210.5 percent—was North Dakota . Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 272.7 percent—was Washington, D.C. (Washington).

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions— 42.6 percent—was Middle District of Tennessee (Nashville).  But over the past five years, Montana showed the largest drop— 16.7 percent.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new crime cases of this type during October 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Fuste, Jose Antonio Puer Rico 67 1 7 2 More
Atlas, Nancy Friedman Texas, S 26 2 20 113 More
Wells, Lesley Brooks Ohio, N 18 3 617 - More
Whitney, Frank DeArmon N Car, W 16 4 - 21 More
Sammartino, Janis Lynn Cal, S 14 5 712 - More
Hovland, Daniel L. N Dakota 14 5 121 75 More
Johnson, Sterling, Jr. N. Y., E 14 5 617 577 More
Webber, E. Richard Mo, E 13 8 712 192 More
Russell, David Lynn Okla, W 13 8 254 192 More
Fenner, Gary A. Mo, W 12 10 187 278 More
Conrad, Robert James, Jr. N Car, W 12 10 78 33 More
Gilstrap, James Rodney Texas, E 12 10 712 - More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

A total of 5 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of filings per capita, while the remaining 7 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 12 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Jose Antonio Fuste in the District of Puerto Rico ranked 1st with 67 defendants in cases. Judge Fuste appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 7) and five years ago (rank 2).

  • Judge Nancy Friedman Atlas in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 2nd with 26 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Lesley Brooks Wells in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 3rd with 18 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: February 6, 2013
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