Government Regulatory Prosecutions for August 2023

Number Latest Month 78
Percent Change from previous month -9.3
Percent Change from 1 year ago 3.2
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago
(Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Government Regulatory Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during August 2023 the government reported 78 new government regulatory prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 9.3 percent over the previous month.

The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with government regulatory-related offenses 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 2023 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (3.2%). 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 43.5 percent from levels reported in 2018.

The dip 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 decrease in government regulatory prosecutions is 33 percent instead of 43.5 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.

Figure 1. Monthly Trends in Government Regulatory Prosecutions

The decrease from the levels five years ago in government regulatory prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of government regulatory 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.

Within the broad category of government regulatory, cases were classified by prosecutors into more specific types.

Case types within government regulatory are

  • Counterfeiting and Forgery

  • Customs Violations - Duty

  • Customs Violations - Currency

  • Energy Pricing and Related Fraud

  • Health and Safety Violations - Employees

  • Health and Safety Violations - General Public

  • Copyright Violations

  • Trafficking in Contraband Cigarettes

  • Energy Violations - Nuclear Waste Issues

  • Money Laundering/Structuring (Narcotics)

  • Money Laundering/Structuring (Other)

  • Export Enforcement General

  • Other Government Regulatory Offenses

The largest number of prosecutions of these matters in August 2023 was for "Money Laundering-Drug", accounting for 37.2 percent of prosecutions. Prosecutions were also filed for "Money Laundering-Other" (23.1%), "Other-Regulatory Offenses" (23.1%), "Counterfeiting and Forgery" (7.7%), "Customs-Currency Violations" (2.6%), "Export Enforcement General" (2.6%), "Health and Safety Violations-Employees" (2.6%). See Figure 2.

The lead investigative agency for government regulatory prosecutions in August 2023 was DHS accounting for 46 percent of prosecutions referred. Other agencies with substantial numbers of government regulatory referrals were: Postal (14% ), Justice Other (12%), FBI (10%), Veteran (6%). See Figure 3.

Pie chart of progcatlabel

Figure 2. Specific Types of Prosecutions
Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 3. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency

Government Regulatory Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In August 2023, 20 defendants in government regulatory 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 August the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 18 U.S.C Section 19 involving "Petty Offense Defined". This was the lead charge for 20 percent of all magistrate filings in August.

Government Regulatory Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In August 2023, 58 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during August there were an additional 7 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 August.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of government regulatory matters filed in U.S. District Court during August 2023.

Lead Charge Count Rank  
21 USC 846 - Attempt and conspiracy 19 1 More
18 USC 1956 - Laundering of monetary instruments 18 2 More
18 USC 1344 - Bank Fraud 11 3 More
18 USC 471 - Obligations or securities of United States 3 4 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 2 5 More
18 USC 472 - Uttering counterfeit obligations or securities 2 5 More
18 USC 1343 - Fraud by wire, radio, or television 2 5 More
18 USC 111 - Assaulting, resisting, impeding certain officers 1 8 More
18 USC 542 - Entry of goods by means of false statements 1 8 More
18 USC 1365 - Tampering with consumer products 1 8 More
18 USC 1709 - Theft of mail matter by officer or employee 1 8 More
31 USC 5332 - Bulk Cash Smuggling into or out of the United States 1 8 More
50 USC 1701 - War and National Defense - Unusual and extraordinary threat 1 8 More
50 USC 1705 - International Emergency Economic Powers 1 8 More
State or Territory Provision 1 8 More
Table 2. Top Charges Filed

  • "Attempt and conspiracy" (Title 21 U.S.C Section 846) was the most frequent recorded lead charge.

  • Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Laundering of monetary instruments" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1956.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Bank Fraud" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1344.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

In August 2023 the Justice Department's case-by-case records show that the government brought 23.5 government regulatory prosecutions for every ten million people in the United States.

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

The districts registering the largest number of prosecutions of this type last month are shown in Table 3.

Judicial District Count Rank  
Texas, S 19 1 More
Puer Rico 13 2 More
Cal, C 12 3 More
Ga, N 4 4 More
Cal, S 3 5 More
Nebraska 2 6 More
Texas, W 2 6 More
Virg, E 2 6 More
Ala, M 1 9 More
Cal, E 1 9 More
Cal, N 1 9 More
D. C. 1 9 More
N. Y., W 1 9 More
Ohio, N 1 9 More
Okla, E 1 9 More
S Dakota 1 9 More
Table 3. Top 10 Districts

  • The Southern District of Texas (Houston) — with 19 prosecutions — was the most active during August 2023.

  • The District of Puerto Rico ranked 2nd.

  • Central District of California (Los Angeles) is now ranking 3rd.

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 government regulatory crime cases of this type during August 2023 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank  
Ellison, Keith P. Texas, S 18 1 More
Walter, John F. Cal, C 11 2 More
Zwart, Cheryl R. Nebraska 2 3 More
Anderson, Percy Cal, C 1 4 More
Drozd, Dale A. Cal, E 1 4 More
Goddard, Allison Cal, S 1 4 More
Chutkan, Tanya Sue D. C. 1 4 More
Vineyard, Russell G. Ga, N 1 4 More
Anand, Justin S. Ga, N 1 4 More
Fuller, J. Clay Ga, N 1 4 More
May, Leigh Martin Ga, N 1 4 More
Vilardo, Lawrence Joseph N. Y., W 1 4 More
Carr, James G. Ohio, N 1 4 More
White, Ronald A. Okla, E 1 4 More
Velez-Rive, Camille L. Puer Rico 1 4 More
Garcia, Orlando Luis Texas, W 1 4 More
Lane, Mark Texas, W 1 4 More
Table 4. Top Ten Judges

All 17 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of government regulatory filings. (Because of ties, there were a total of 17 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)

  • Judge Keith P. Ellison in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 1st with 18 defendants in government regulatory cases.

  • Judge John F. Walter in the Central District of California (Los Angeles) ranked 2nd with 11 defendants in government regulatory cases.

  • Judge Cheryl R. Zwart in the District of Nebraska ranked 3rd with 2 defendants in government regulatory cases.

Report Generated: October 6, 2023
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