Prosecutions for October 2017

Referring Agency: Federal Bureau of Investigation

Number Latest Month 1,182
Percent Change from previous month 1.7
Percent Change from 1 year ago 18.0
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
-3.3
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
-7.4
Table 1. Criminal Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during October 2017 the government reported 1182 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 1.7 percent 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 2017 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (18%). Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 3.3 percent from levels reported in 2012.

Bar and line plot of FYMON

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 2017 was for "Withheld by Govt from TRAC (FOIA challen", accounting for 22 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Drugs-Drug Trafficking" (12.7%), "Drugs-Organized Crime Task Force" (12.5%), "Project Safe Childhood" (9.4%), "Violence-Other" (7.7%), "Weapons-Operation Triggerlock Major" (6.6%), "Bank Robbery" (5.9%), "Other Criminal Prosecutions" (3.6%), "Violence-Indian Country" (3.1%). 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 2017, 209 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 18 U.S.C Section 2113 involving "Bank robbery and incidental crimes". This was the lead charge for 10 percent of all magistrate filings in October.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A" (10%), "21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy" (10%), "18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts" (8.6%), "18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors" (6.7%), "18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act" (5.7%).

Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In October 2017, 973 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during October there were an additional 129 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 2017 referred by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 132 1 2 1 More
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 128 2 1 2 More
18 USC 922 - Firearms; Unlawful acts 97 3 4 4 More
18 USC 2113 - Bank robbery and incidental crimes 59 4 3 3 More
18 USC 2252 - Material involving sexual exploitation of minors 45 5 5 6 More
18 USC 1951 - Hobbs Act 38 6 7 10 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 33 7 6 5 More
18 USC 1962 - RICO - prohibited activities 22 8 15 29 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 20 9 11 7 More
18 USC 1349 - Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy 19 10 8 8 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 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 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 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922. "Firearms; Unlawful acts" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 was ranked 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions — up 78.3 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1962 that involves " RICO - prohibited activities ". This was the same statute that had the largest increase — 269 % — when compared with five years ago.

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 22.1 percent — was " Mail Fraud - Attempt and Conspiracy " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1349 ). This was the same statute that had the largest decrease — 56 % — when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In October 2017 the Justice Department said the government brought 409.3 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  
S Dakota 1,551 11 1 39 22 More
Ohio, N 1,404 67 2 16 2 More
Alaska 1,334 8 3 67 86 More
N. Y., S 1,166 51 4 2 4 More
Montana 1,151 10 5 38 31 More
D. C. 1,057 6 6 30 27 More
N. Y., W 942 22 7 61 39 More
Texas, N 912 55 8 3 24 More
Fla, S 885 54 9 1 1 More
Ala, S 853 6 10 61 73 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts (per ten million people)

  • The District of South Dakota — with 1551 prosecutions as compared with 409.3 prosecutions per ten million population in the United States — was the most active during October 2017.

  • The Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 2nd.

  • District of Alaska is now ranking 3rd.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland), now ranked 2nd , and Washington, D.C. (Washington) at 6th In the same order, these districts ranked 16th and 30th one year ago and 2nd and 27th five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in the rate of prosecutions compared to one year ago — 81.6 percent — was Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 409.1 percent — was Alaska .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in the rate of prosecutions — 42.9 percent — was Washington, D.C. (Washington).  This was the same district that had the largest increase — 51.2 percent — when compared with five years ago.

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 2017 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Totenberg, Amy Mil Ga, N 29 1 94 - More
Pearson, Benita Yalonda Ohio, N 24 2 260 621 More
O'Connor, Reed Charles Texas, N 21 3 106 519 More
Polster, Dan A. Ohio, N 19 4 52 16 More
Roman, Nelson Stephen N. Y., S 18 5 46 - More
Lynn, Barbara M. Texas, N 18 5 11 149 More
Schofield, Lorna Gail N. Y., S 15 7 - - More
Cleland, Robert Hardy Mich, E 13 8 133 6 More
Brann, Matthew William Penn, M 13 8 52 - More
Altonaga, Cecilia M. Fla, S 12 10 46 23 More
Vilardo, Lawrence Joseph N. Y., W 12 10 156 - More
Gaughan, Patricia Anne Ohio, N 12 10 186 42 More
Rice, Walter Herbert Ohio, S 12 10 106 131 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

A total of 9 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 4 judges were from other districts. (Because of ties, there were a total of 13 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Amy Mil Totenberg in the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta) ranked 1st with 29 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Benita Yalonda Pearson in the Northern District of Ohio (Cleveland) ranked 2nd with 24 defendants in cases.

  • Judge Reed Charles O'Connor in the Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth) ranked 3rd with 21 defendants in cases.

Report Generated: November 28, 2017
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